Fraserburgh lifeboat tragedy commemorated

THE death of six lifeboat men has been commemorated 60 years after the tragedy.

Only one man survived when the RNLI lifeboat upturned while the crew assisted boats coming into harbour at Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.

Vic Sutherland, current coxswain at the town’s lifeboat station, said: “Unfortunately the history of the lifeboat in Fraserburgh has been blighted by three major disasters.

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“We lost two crew in 1919, six crew in 1953 and then five crew in 1970 and therefore we are also remembering everyone who has died in the course of duty with the RNLI at Fraserburgh.

“This is a sombre occasion as we recall the events of February 9, 60 years ago, when the whole town and the surrounding area was affected by the appalling tragedy, the like of which we hope we will never see again.”

Mr Sutherland spoke ahead of the ceremony at a bronze statue outside the lifeboat station where crew gathered to pay respects. Family of the victims also attended and helped lay a wreath at sea.

The boat capsized in heavy swell after helping two boats back to harbour.

The coxswain was thrown clear of the boat and swam towards the harbour until he was struck by wreckage on the head and died.

The five others who died were trapped under the boat’s canopy during the lunchtime tragedy.

Those who died were coxswain Andrew Noble Ritchie, 39, who left a widow and four children; George Flett Duthie, 55, the mechanic, who left a widow and six children; Charles Tait senior, 61, the bowman, who left a widow and three children; James Noble, 32, the assistant mechanic, who left a widow and two children; John Crawford, 52, who left a widow and three children, and John Ralph Buchan, 23, who left a widow and two sons.

The only survivor was Charles Tait junior, the second coxswain, whose father died in the disaster. He was washed up alive on the rocks to the south of the harbour. Charles then enrolled in a new crew which was formed 12 days after the capsize.