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The Invergordon Archive

RAF Rescue Launches at West Pier, Invergordon
The Invergordon Archive
RAF Rescue Launches at West Pier, Invergordon

How many readers remember this scenario I wonder? This photo is one of many included in a book shortly available about the RAF launches at Invergordon/Alness during the period 1954-1958.

Picture added on 16 May 2011 at 09:53
This picture is in the following groups
RAF Marine Craft
Oh my goodness Brian I remember it well. No doubt many others will too. Longing to read the book.
Added by Rosalie (Graham) Samaroo on 28 May 2011
Yes, I spent two very happy years at Invergordon serving on both of those boats. I loved the town and so many of the lovely people I met there. My fond memories must remain as if I returned now I feel I wouldn't like all the changes that have taken place. I would love to hear from anyone who may have remembered me or ex RAF personnel from that time (1955/57).
Added by Peter Ramsey on 30 May 2011
Brian Mutton has informed me that his book “Waves of Nostalgia” is now available from the printers in Australia, either by post or on line in e-book format.
Please feel free to contact them on www.documentondemand.com.au to view their book gallery - “Waves ….” should be listed soon.
Alternatively, he can arrange to post the book directly to customers by contacting him on his email address (bamutton@bigpond.net.au). The cost will be (Australian) $25.00 plus packing and postage.
Added by Malcolm McKean on 14 June 2011
I have been in touch with Brian as he knew my dad Jeff Wilkie when they were in the RAF together, he very kindly sent me a photo of my dad with Ken Heritage, in the engine room of one of the launches. My dad had 2 pencil drawings of these boats on our living room wall.
Added by Anne Wilkie on 19 June 2011
I have just finished reading Brian's book "Waves of Nostalgia" and it is a "must" read for all MCU personnel and those from Invergordon and Alness. I remember you Peter Ramsay as I'm sure a lot of other people. Anne I knew your Dad too. I was dismayed one day when walking down the RAF pier with my Dad (who was an RAF officer by then) and we met your Dad. Amazingly they greeted each other as long lost friends having joined up together. My Dad "introduced" me to your Dad not knowing that I, and a few other girls often walked down this pier so introductions were unnecessary. Your Dad, bless him, accepted the introduction with a straight face and a look of panic on mine!! Happy Days!!
Added by Rosalie (Graham) Samaroo on 11 July 2011
Aw, what a lovely story Rosalie. Will be purchasing the book very soon, can't wait to read it.

Added by Anne Wilkie on 11 July 2011
i remember the launches very well and the smell of the oil and sea I can still get. I delivered morning rolls to RAF Alness every day, great memories. I also worked with your Dad in Henderson's Store, he loved his Skoda. Regards to Jeff your brother also.
Added by David Gow on 24 July 2011
Hi David, that's right, dad worked for Hendersons, and he did have a Skoda, it was a lime green colour, wow, memories are flooding back.
Will tell my brother you were asking for him.

Added by Anne Wilkie on 25 July 2011
I was at RAF Alness in 1957 and have fond memories of my time 'up north'. I am in regular touch with Brian Mutton who lives near Brisbane and with Pete Ramsey in Cornwall. Brian's book brings back memories of Invergordon and the many friendly people I met. Highlights of my time at 1100 MCU Alness include navigating my little Austin 7 around the mountains, the Saturday night dances in the local village hall and the regular visits to the pictures, also playing cricket in midsummer until very light in the evening. Best wishes to anyone who might possibly remember me 55 years on! and perhaps get in touch.

Mike Moore in London
Added by Michael Moore on 30 June 2012
Hi Michael, did you by any chance have a nickname while you were at Alness/Invergordon? I remember your surname but not your first name. If you are who I think you are then I remember your nickname but I won't divulge it here (although perfectly respectable) in case I have the wrong man.
Added by Rosalie Graham (Samaroo) on 02 July 2012
Hi Rosalie.
I am not aware of any nickname. My colleagues called me 'Mike' - to my face! I see you have read Brian's book. It includes many reminiscences and some photos of us old lags outside the corrugated iron huts on the base. There is one of us piled into my Austin 7 (Page 135). I am one of the four standing up in it (on the right). The others I remember are: from left - Pete Ramsey, Pete Larner, then far right Brian Mutton with fire extinguisher, and Brian Weston kneeling down tinkering with the engine. You may know some of the others. This mini limousine did me good service, and when I was posted it safely took me home to Hastings - 600 miles in two days with a top speed of 45mph( downhill with a following wind - and no motorways).
I was the wireless operator on the boats (not a very good one as I was a very poor sailor and succumbed to seasickness soon after leaving Invergordon harbour).
Anyway thanks for making contact - do you think I might match this mysterious nickname?

With kind regards, Mike Moore
Added by Michael Moore on 02 July 2012
Hi Michael, Now that I have checked the photo in the book I do remember you. There was another "Moore" but definitely not you and he did have a perfectly respectable nickname!!
Added by Rosalie Samaroo on 05 July 2012
Hi Mike, Another postscript.... I was thinking of Dinty Moore but now that I have looked at the photo in the book I can see that you are not him but I do remember you.
Added by Rosalie Samaroo on 05 July 2012
During the last war the ASRs moored there used to have machine gun turrets behind the cabins - I think they were larger boats than these two.
Added by Doug Will on 16 July 2012
I met my wife (to be then) in 1125 MCU RAF Glugor Penang, and she used to baby-sit for Jim Heaton, and his wife when they were there too, and when my wife came over to England to take up nursing at Redhill General Hospital, Jim and his wife were stationed at Invergordon, and kindly, Jim and Audrey invited Helena for a holiday with them, as a break from her nursing studies, and a chance to see more of our beloved country. I was stationed at RAF Felixstowe at the time prior to transfer to Bridlington after the closure of RAF Felixstowe ASR/MCU in 1959/1960.
Added by Tony Meagher (ex Mar. Mech.) on 16 September 2012
Hi, my name is Edward Wood and I also was stationed at Alness/Invergordon. Our workshop was at the end of the pier, (I was the corporal carpenter with 3 others) the boats were brought ashore on high tide, resting on a cradle and repaired when the tide receeded. This was in 1940 plus, prior to my posting to Iceland, which is another story.
Added by Edward Hodgson Wood on 09 October 2012
Hi Doug Will, yes these 68ft launches were armed during the war. You can see the base of the turret on the 2679 (above), it's just above the ladder. I think it would also have had an Oerlikon aft. The 2744 was built after the war and not armed.
Added by Pete Ramsey on 13 October 2012
Cheers for that info Pete, some of my mates thought that I was imagining the guns and now I have proof.
Added by Doug Will on 13 October 2012
Thanks for including the comments I made last time in September. Would like to hear from Jim Heaton if he is still around, and happens to read this. Maybe he was at Kinloss, or was that the flying station Invergordon was on Stand-by flying for?
Added by Tony Meagher (ex Mar. Mech.) on 13 October 2012
Further to the info re the boats being armed. At the beginning of the war the air sea rescue launches were made visible from the air by having the decks painted yellow, much the same as hospital ships were made visible. But after the launches were attacked, even while picking up enemy airmen they were then armed.
Added by Pete Ramsey on 16 October 2012
Thanks for the memories. I was posted to 1100MCU after you left Brian, and was involved there until my discharge in 1966. A quick update on the boats there. During the early 60s during a very cold winter, the Firth almost freezing across. Ice being trapped in the Firth was flowing up and down at the turn of the tides. The double diagonal hulls of the craft moored off Invergordon were damaged by the ice, the skipper had the crews breaking the ice with boathooks as it flowed past. The damage was so bad that another skin was put on top of the double diagonal. Resulting in a 4 and a half inch thick hull. Making the boats there much heavier and thus a lot slower. The wooden boats were eventually replaced by 90ft. metal hulled craft, still manned by the R.A.F. but shortly after replaced by civilian contractors. The camp (Alness) is still there but not used by the RAF.
Added by Brian Harnetty on 22 November 2012
You're right Brian, the old ones were taken over by Ocean-Going Launches; I used to fuel them - their names were the Seal, Seagull and smaller one the Hurricane. I used to swim at the slipway at Alness and lived on the farm behind it. I also used to go to the cinema on a Sunday way back around 1959.
Added by David Gow on 22 November 2012
Remember this well. Was in the crew up when it was taken and have my own copy. Many happy memories of Alness/Invergordon 53 to 55. Names I remember, Ft Lt Hunt, Flg Off Sydenham, Sgt Nick Carter, Cpl Ginger Jordan, Dinty Moore, Jack Kenyon. I was an MBC, went on Cox 11 course at Calshot in 55 and then sent to PD.
Added by Peter (Pete) Cornish on 03 May 2013
I was stationed Alness 50-52 ,on HSL 2679 as seen on photo with 2744. the only other launch at that time was 2644. Was the number altered?
Added by Sam Nicol on 03 May 2013
Hi all, I was detached to Alness from 1104 MCU Bridlington on three occasions when we slipped our 63ft Pinnaces there. The Alness craft had two diagonal skins of half-inch mahogany and when triple skinned they had a max thickness of one and a half inches. This extra bottom skin was laid fore and aft if I remember correctly. I must get a copy of Brian's book.
Added by Donald Smith on 21 May 2013
I have in my possession a Royal Air Force Marine Craft News letter, dated 1964, which I believe is the only one of its kind on record. This relates to the crews and "outing" the launches made from 1100 MCU/Alness. In it there is a long entry made by Flt.Lt. T Fryirs who was the skipper of TTL 2757 and describes the launches visit on Battle of Britain week to Lerwick. The crew at the time were as follows:
Cox'n F/S Rab "The Poacher" Howitt,
M. Cox'n Sgt. Larry Parkes
S Mar. Fitt Ch.Tech. Tex Weldon
Mar Fitt. J.T Geordie Gibbon
W. OP Cpl Ted Phillips
M.B.C SAC. Bob Murray
M.B.C SAC. "Tubs" Bowen (Cook)
M.B.C. SAC. "Burglar" Cruickshank ( would love to know how he gained the nickname?)
Am happy to photocopy and forward them on to those interested. I have also some other bits and pieces as well as some colour slides of 2757. Am hoping to have these put onto the PC (when I know how) and therefore enable others to enjoy. Great pictures of her on full throttle. If anyone should wish to contact me via email directly, christiaan.jan@ntlworld.com
There are other names under the title of Movements of Personnel :
Flt Lt G.E.F. Hubbard.................... from Gan
Ch. Tech J. Graves (Mar.Fitt.)........from North Front
Sgt. G. Nicolini Cox'n Q-MC-M........from North Front
Sgt. S.L. Varnham Cox'n............... from North Front
Cpl. L.T Mulberry Cox'n..................from Gan
Cpl. B.J. Harnetty (Mar.Fit..............from Muharraq
SAC C. Bowen M.B.C......................from Butterworth
SAC D. Bruce M.B.C........................from Butterworth
LAC A.J. Shepherd M.B.C.................from Butterworth
Hope these names and those others will jog a few memories?
Added by Christiaan on 24 May 2013
TTL 2757 is on display outside at the RAF Museum Hendon and I took some pictures last summer. Unfortunately it was in need of some tlc. It also features in Brian Mutton's book "Waves of Nostalgia".
Added by Mike Moore (Alness 1957) on 25 May 2013
Further to my post above, there is a special half term event at the RAF Museum Hendon London NW9 5LL at its Search and Rescue Week 27th to 31st May. It is family friendly with lots of 'hands on' and may be of interest to those within reach of London. More info at:
www.rafmuseum.org and Time Out Magazine
Added by Mike Moore (Alness 1957) on 27 May 2013
Hi, my dad Gerald Raphael was on this launch based at Invergordon from 1954-56. Trying to get some info and pictures for his birthday in January - he will be 80. Anyone remember him or have any stories for me?
Added by Jane Kahlani on 06 November 2013
Hi Jane, I remember Gerry very well, I always remember him as a very easy going chap who fitted in with us all at Alness. I am in touch with other pals from those days who will also remember him well. Brian Mutton, Steve Wood, Mike Moore and Gardy Morrison, both WOP's, I know we would all be pleased to hear from him and to hear how life has treated him since those happy days when we were so lucky to have served our 'two years' at Invergordon. I understand that, due to the article again printed in the Daily Mail last week there are two letters being forwarded to Brian Mutton in Brisbane, perhaps two more lads have turned up!
Added by Pete Ramsey on 07 November 2013
When I was 20, in 1958, I had a falling out with my mum over a dog I had acquired. I packed a bag and took the dog to live on a houseboat at Isleworth which belonged to a friend. It was ASR launch 2744 – still in its RAF livery. Later, she was moved upstream, to Thames Ditton, re-pained grey and named 'Tempest'. She remained there until 1979. I lost track of her after that. It's good to know about her time, doing what she was built to do.
Added by Alan Morton Smith on 14 January 2014
Hi, I was at Alness from Jan '56 until Aug '56 having being sent up from Kinloss. I mainly drove the crews to and from Invergordon every day. Names I remember Bill Bishop, Dusty Miller, Brian's rings bells too. I went out on one or both on a couple of occasions. My time at Alness was the best of my 2 years N/S. Beautiful area, very happy memories.
Added by Bill Christie on 19 March 2014
Hi, my name is Gerry Raphael and I was a Wireless Op on 2744 and 2679 from mid 1954 to 1956 at Invergordon. Whilst on duty we had some very hairy incidents one being when I think Brian Mutton was in the engine room, we were passing the North Sutor going out on an exercise in the Moray Firth, North Sea, all of our three engines broke down. I managed to get a message to Jimmy Dunn who was the Wireless Op in the Pier House at Invergordon to send the small ferry out to us to tow us back to Invergordon. We were almost drifting onto the North Sutor when the ferry reached us "thankfully" and then towed us back to the pier. Sergeant Ginger Jordan was the Coxswain on the 2744 that day. Hope everyone is doing well. By the way I live ten minutes from Hendon RAF Museum and always salute as I pass.
Added by Gerald Raphael on 20 March 2014
Hi my name is Eddie Cullen I was the Medic at Alness when Gerry Raphael was there we became great friends. Gerry was demobed from Alness and I was transferrd to RAF Kinloss where I was based in sick quarters. I was married in 1956 and was demobed in 56. Gerry and I lost contact for 50 years and during that time we were both trying to contact the other without success. Gerry posted an advert in my local paper The Lochgelly Times in Fife asking if anyone knew where I was. A relative of mine saw the advert and told me about it so I phoned and made contact and we have been in regular contact since. I was privelegd to be a surprise guest at his 80th Birthday. Jimmy Dunne was also a friend at Alness. I have many great memories of Alness. My best regards to All.
Added by Eddie Cullen on 25 May 2014
Hello, just happen to come across this page.
During the summer of 1964 I spent a most memorable & enjoyable holiday with the family of Flight Lieutenant Guy Fortescue Hubbard (ex-RN) at Evanton. He took me with him for a ride on one the launches. Unfortunately I lost contact with the family.
Added by Michael Wackers on 27 January 2015
Hello, my Grandfather was skipper of 2679 during WW2. He was David Ross, from Findochty, Banffshire. I was just wondering if anyone had any pictures of 2679, I would love my sons to see them.
Thanks, Gary.
Added by Gary Ross on 04 July 2015
Hello, I delivered morning rolls from Monteith baker Alness to RAF Alness around 1959. I also remember babysitting for a guy that lived in married quarters while his wife was in hospital having another child; he used to borrow my bike to go and catch the bus. Don't remember his name but I knew a few of the guys, a fellow called Tiger, Alan the chef, Paddy Rodgers. Had good times listening to records in the canteen; I was sixteen then and enjoyed these happy times. Dave.
Added by Dave on 04 July 2015
I am prompted to add to my earlier posts about my time at RAF Alness in 1957 as my wife Ann and I were on a Round the UK Cruise and Invergordon was one of our ports of call (30th June). I had not been here for 58 years and I was keen to see how much I remembered in the town. The old pier hut seems to have gone but the little harbour looked much the same. The high street had not changed and looked really attractive with the brightly coloured murals on this sunny morning. Some "Waves of Nostalgia" washed over me (with apologies and regards to Brian Mutton!) and we enjoyed this brief encounter with past memories.

An earlier stop off was at Falmouth where we met up with Pete Ramsey and Steve Wood, two other "old Alnessians" for a coffee and reminiscence.

Regards to any other crew of 2557 and 2745 who might remember me.
Added by Mike Moore (Alness 1957) on 05 July 2015
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RAF Marine Craft

Undergoing Speed Trials off InvergordonRTTL 2757 at InvergordonRTTL 2745 coming into the moorings at InvergordonRAF Launches in the West HarbourWest Harbour