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The Invergordon Archive

RTTL 2757 at Invergordon
The Invergordon Archive
RTTL 2757 at Invergordon

Rescue, Target Towing Launch 2757 refuelling at the West Harbour. A brand new craft in 1958, she arrived at Alness - No.1100 Marine Craft Unit (MCU) - in January 1958 (Brian Mutton knows all about that!) and was here until August 1965. She went to RAF Mount Batten, Plymouth, for Category 4 Repairs, and then to No.1105 MCU at Portrush, Ireland, in June 1966.
The picture is thought to date from 1966 or 1967 but this doesn't tie in with her known Service Record. The date of the photo is therefore a guess.
Picture added on 28 May 2012 at 09:53
This picture is in the following groups
RAF Marine Craft
Comments:
I served with the crew and maintenance personel of this craft in 1961, as I was the station fireman at Alness, temp posted from RAF Kinloss.
She was an extraordinary vessel, I was aboard her on frequent exercises in the Cromartary Firth,with low flying Shackletons of 120 Sqaudron.
I was there for approx 6 months, and in that time I witnessed some amazing escapades.
The camp comandant was Flt Manson.
Added by Thomas R Johnston (Tamus) on 05 June 2012
I served at RAF Portrush's 1105 MCU from 1969 until it closed down on the 1st April 1971. Whilst I was mainly one of the crew members on board HMAFV Seal (5000) a metal hulled 120ft Long Range Recovery and Support Craft, which was to be based at Alness after Portrush's closure, and she was still there after the RAF Marine Branch was disbanded and handed over to a civilian contractor working on behalf of the MOD.
I also did several trips on HMAFV 2757 from RAF Portrush whilst Seal was undergoing her refit periods down at the Royal Naval Dockyard at Devonport in Plymouth.
RTTL 2757 is now on show at the RAF Museum in Hendon, along with a 63ft General Service Pinnace, and a 43ft Range Safety Launch.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 31 July 2012
This picture was taken by me in 1967 after major servicing; she was still based at Portrush. The camera used was a Minolta Sr1s SLR. Budge Bergin wop - I transferred to the Seal shortly afterwards.

(Many thanks for the information on this excellent photo - and the 'Contributor' and 'Date' have been changed accordingly - Site Admin.)
Added by Pat Bergin on 25 August 2012
Is Pat Bergin saying that the photo was taken at Portrush, as it somehow reads that way for some reason, especially as he also served aboard HMAFV Seal (5000), as I also did whilst stationed at Portrush's 1105 Marine Craft. Seal was sent to be operated by 1100 Marine Craft Unit at RAF Alness in 1971 after RAF Portrush was Closed Down and the craft based there sent to other MCU's in the UK, and after I had completed the Hand Back of that MCU's equipment and stores to the central stores system I was also posted to RAF Alness.
The photo that he took certainly shows 2757 inside the old West Harbour at Invergordon on what was one of the Admiralty Fuelling Jetties, though most of the RAF craft were normally refuelled at the main Admiralty Jetty.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 28 August 2012
Hello David, no the picture was taken at Invergordon but 2757 was still based at Portrush - she came to Alness at various times for servicing and repairs as necessary. I was originally based at Alness in the early ’60s on 2749 and then my journeys took me to various destinations on marine craft including Mountbatten, Holyhead, Portrush, Seletar, Glugor (Penang) and then an expedition training from Seletar to Mountbatten on a fifty-footer called Lookwide in 1966 from whence I was posted to Portrush, and the picture was then taken on trip to Alness for a major servicing and we were awaiting the refueller before returning to Portrush and shortly afterward was then chucked on the Seal. You might have known me as ‘Budge the Sparks’ - hope that helps.
Added by Pat Bergin on 29 August 2012
Hi Pat. Thanks for the info. I do recall hearing of someone who was given the nickname you say you had, but can't put a face to it after all these years.
I joined Seal's crew directly from Training Flight. Given results at 11.45 and told to be on Seal at Devonport RND at 16.00, as she was leaving after a refit back to Portrush. This was in September 1969, and I only left the crew in March 1971 as I was being kept back to be in the Stay Behind Party after the craft left on the Closing Down of the 1105 MCU under Sqn. Ldr. Vendrell. In fact I was the last man to leave, doing so on the 2nd April 1971, as the CO had me and my family go to his bungalow for a meal before he handed me my travel docs.
Thanks again for the info. By the way I am now the Military Advisor to the Alness Heritage Centre, where I also put on display my large collection of military weapons and equipment every June.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 29 August 2012
Hi David, did you also server at Penang 1125MCU as MBC?
Added by Tony Meagher on 16 October 2012
Sorry Tony. I didn't serve on 1125 MCU, as I believe that it closed shortly before I joined up in April 1969.
After Training Flight at Mount Batten I served first at Portrush (1105 MCU), then Alness (1100 MCU) from April 1971 until I left in April 1981 following 12 years service and being injured and unable to be fit for sea duties.
Whilst at Alness I volunteered to do two short postings to the MCS at RAF Masirah. First posting was for the 1972-73 shipping season, which was also the 1st official posting, instead of it being a detachment from the Cyprus MCU, and I also went out to do the 1974-75 season, mainly so as to take advantage of some special perks that were offered by the RAF for anyone who volunteered and was picked to go there. There were only four men from the branch on the Section, and during my time there these consisted of a Cpl Cox, two MBCs, and a JT Mar Fitter. Our work consisted of providing marine cover for the DOE PSA who contracted two civilian divers to carry out work and maintenance on the underwater tanker terminal pipeline that the islands fuel was pumped ashore through, along with 24/7 SAR Stand-by, training the bases RAF Regiment Fire Section in Gemini Handling, Mooring tankers to offshore mooring, helping RFA Store Ships in the inner anchorage, and many other of the usual Marine Craft type of expertise.
Whilst the posting was considered as a 9 month unaccompanied tour our tour length was usually just over 7 months, as when the last tanker of the shipping season departed all we had to do was recover the sections of the flexible fuel pipelines from the offshore underwater terminal, mothball or hand back all of the equipment, and then get booked on to the first available flight back to the UK, plus our posting to whichever MCU we wanted to be sent to was guaranteed.
The posting really tested those who served ot Masirah, and with no SNCOs or Officers it meant that my rank (SAC) saw me 2 I/C MCS, and other sections demanding an officer's signature found that the rule book had to be torn up or their negative response would involve HQ NEAF being informed about their non-compliance to provide us with whatever was required.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 18 October 2012
Thanks for that information David. All the best.
Tony(M)

Added by Tony Meagher (ex Mar. Mech.) on 19 October 2012
Hiya I was stationed at Lossiemouth from 1971/2 with the RSL as the radio operation. Reg Johnson was the flight sergeant coxswain and billeted at HMS Fulmar. Occasionally sailing to Alness to meet and loiter with SEAL, SEAGULL and sometimes SEA OTTER. Great experience being a crab fat. Remember getting storm bound in Kirkwall on a sonar buoy and target towing exercise. Lost one of the HF whip aerials from the wheel house of SEAL in a force 10. That focuses the mind!!
Added by Ralph Hodgson SAC W.op on 19 October 2012
Hi Ralph.
You should have been on Seal in Northern Ireland. We went out on an exercise into the Atlantic and finished up meeting the 'Perfect Storm'. Lost the top mast, all the radio aerials except the UHF, and Pitrevie ordered a Shackleton out to search for us in what was a Storm 11. We finally made it back to Portrush a few days later, and Ulster TV had a camera recording our arrival back to Portrush in a very battered state. The CO stood all the crew down for a couple of days as we didn't get much sleep with trying to get rid of all the water that had filled the Torpedo Flat, and the air vents had pumped salt water into the accommodation and wrecked all the crockery etc.
It took over a month to get Seal back into operational condition, as a new mast had to be made and the mast lights, all of the aerials and the radar scanner all needed replacing, plus the bow fairing above the deck on the starboard side was also replaced after the wave we hit smashed it back towards the deck. It was scary. I know as I was on the helm with Fl/Lt Kingston as the skipper when we went into the wall of water just after midnight, and it washed right over the top bridge and even poured into the engine room intakes.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 21 October 2012
Hi Dave
Very much enjoyed doubling up as Wop with Bob Brewit and Jimmy Mallon and sometimes Willy Mcallister on the Seal Class. Most of the time with the RSL out of Lossi working with the navy choppers. Visited Lossi and Alness a couple of years ago the tourist centre has all the fixtures and fittings from the Alness bar and the huge 'Oh Gawdelpus' plaque that greeted us on entry. Lots of archive from the camp and very helpful staff who rescued that history form the skip. A very moving visit to share with the missus.
Added by Ralph Hodgson SAC W.op on 12 November 2012
Hi Ralph.
Glad that you managed to get to the heritage centre and see some of the archive material we have managed to collect on RAF Alness. If you ever get up here again try to do so during June, as I will be at the centre all that month with my now well visited weapons collection, with many of the weapons allowed to be handled by visitors, especially those who have, or are perhaps are serving in the forces.
Due to security issues I have to be present when the weapons are on display, as some are now getting rather expensive and also hard to find.
Like most of those of my age I am hardly recognisable, but just shout 'Wilkie' or ask someone in the shop where I can be found.
Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed your visit, and if you have any items such as photos of your time at Alness or Lossie, can you let us have copies and any details that you have on them for our archives, we will be very pleased to add such info to the ever growing archives on what was a unique branch of the RAF that is alas no longer in existence.
Kindest regards to you and your missus.
David L Wilkinson
Added by David L Wilkinson on 12 November 2012
Marvellous comments and nice to stir such memories lads.
(Budge - ex Wop 2749 2757 Seal and various RSLs circa '61/62 and '67/68)
Added by Budge on 13 November 2012
My father, Flt Lt Gavin Wilson was stationed at Alness, does anybody remember him or serve with him.....?
Added by Stuart Gavin Wilson on 09 December 2012
Hi Ralph, Lossie was OK wasn't it? I was mechie on opposite crew to Nige Brenchly for a bit. Also was with Dave Wilkinson at Masirah and also on Seagull. I'm now enjoying retirement.
Added by Colin Graham on 13 March 2013
Is there anyone out here who can offer any information on 1100 RAF Alness from 1962/1965 or there about. My father was R1921163 TED Phillips or his wife, Tina Phillips. TTL 2757 was the marine craft involved were he was the radio operator. I do have some pictures of the boat itself, but am desperate to have more info on that time in Alness and the guys he served with.
Many thanks
Added by Christiaan on 24 May 2013
Hi Colin, good to hear from you and have fond and clear memories of you both and all the laughs we had at Lossie.
Added by Ralph Hodgson on 06 June 2013
I remember Flt Lt Gavin Wilson, he was my skipper at Bridlington on 1386, nice chap.
Added by Geoff Brightwell on 25 October 2014
Hi, I'm Gwyn (Jim) Harris ex Sac Marine craft; I served at RAF Ainess 1969/1970. On SEAL then went to RAF GAN returned to RAF Alness 1972/1974 when I left the Air Force to work on the oil rigs. A lot of the time at Alness on SEAL was spent on patrol on the Irish coast and also we were involved in patrolling the Dover straights; happy days.
Added by Gwyn (Jim) Harris Sac on 02 January 2015
Hi Gwyn. Wonder if you got the date wrong about Seal, as she was still based at Portrush until March when she and the other sea-going craft left before the unit was closed down on the 1st of April 1971, which was also the day that I should have been on my way to Alness, but as Sqn Ldr Vendrell had ordered my family and myself to go to his bungalow for dinner, so I didn't get my travel doc's until after the last train had left Portrush.
I had quite a job explaining my not arriving at Alness on the 3rd April as UWO Pegram met me as I got out of the Taxi I'd had to take from Inverness due to there being no buses or trains able to get me to Alness before the end of work. Of course I'd got chits to show why I was unable to reach Alness on the 1st and 2nd, as every from of public transport, including the ferry across from Larne all broke down, and of course I found out I was supposed to be on Duty Telephone Watch in the UHQ that night, so it was some arrival at this then remote outpost of the Marine Craft Branch.
Although I'd been on the crew of Seal when she was based at Portrush, doing so immediately after passing my MBC Course, I was taken off the crew to be part of the Stay-Behind Party at Portrush, but after a couple of tours out to Masirah from Alness I finally ended up on the crew of Seagull until 1980, when I had to have an operation for a knee injury incurred whilst onboard Seagull.
If you have any photos or memories you'd like to add about Alness can you send them to Alness Heritage Centre so they can be added to the growing archives we have on RAF Alness.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 03 January 2015
Hi I would like a print of some photos of the 1105 MCU unit while based in Portrush.
I would like with your permission to display in the Harbour Bar Portrush.

(Copyright is owned by the contributor of the photo so you will need each contributor's permission - Site Admin.)
Added by Willie Gregg on 19 January 2015
This launch is now at RAF Museum at Hendon. I was taken aboard it whilst it was at lnvergordon by my cousins husband who served at Alness.
Added by Stanley Majewski on 01 June 2016
A shot in the dark this! I lived in Cromarty 1991-2001 and my father visited me there in 1992. As we were driving out of Alness towards Tain we passed a pair of houses situated at 22 Obsdale Rd. He mentioned that he had stayed there when he had come up to inspect RAF Alness. I have no idea he had ever been in the area! His name was Lawrence 'Tony' Brockman-More, rank probably Squadron Leader. I'm only guessing around 1957-58. Had the RAF used the two houses as service accommodation and does anyone know or remember his visit? Many thanks for your time.
Added by Steve Brockman-More on 25 March 2017
Hi Steve. You are quite right about the houses, as they were for RAF Officers (OMQ's) Officer Married Quarters, though they were in private hands when I first arrived at RAF Alness in April 1971 from RAF Portush when it "Closed Down". I am afraid I can't help with any info on your dad, as I never heard of him during my time in the Marine Branch from 1969-1981. As these house had been sold by the MOD they eventually had to buy a couple of newly built Bungalows in an new estate called Obsdale Park, which lay further along that road and up to the left on the hillside.
If you are ever around this area then call in at the Alness Heritage Centre at 102-106 High Street and ask if Joan Ross is around, as she might possibly know of your dad, and we might have something on him in our archives on RAF Alness.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 25 March 2017
Thanks David for that confirmation about the houses. My daughter lives near Balintore and I'll be visitng her later this year. I'll be sure to follow up your suggestion about visiting the Heritage Centre. I'm not sure if the RAF Alness would log a single inspection by my Dad! Thanks again, Steve.
Added by Steve Brockman-More on 26 March 2017
Hi Steve. If you can manage to see your daughter between 19th June to 19th August you will find me in the Heritage Centre, where I will again have my large collection of military weapons along with loads of equipment on display. I normally allow some of the smaller lighter weapons to be handled by visitors, and it has been described as being the best private collection in Scotland by a number of people, with one visitor found to having been in the SAS in the 1990's.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 26 March 2017
Thanks for the invite David, if I'm over during those dates I'll definitely make the effort to come by. Cheers for now. Steve
Added by Steve Brockman-More on 26 March 2017
Hi there, my father, William Ernest Riley served on the SEAL at Portrush during this time and has fond memories. Would anybody remember him? It would be lovely for him to get in touch with old pals.
Added by Michelle Hunt on 17 April 2017
Michelle Hunt, there are many men who served at 1105 MCU Portrush, elsewhere and aboard HMAFV Seal we can be found on Facebook Air Sea Rescue and Marine Craft Sections Club...I am Secretary of the Club and Admin of the page. he could join the Club or just join the page, get in touch happy to help in anyway
Added by Markham Jones on 04 June 2017
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RAF Marine Craft

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