Grangemouth memorial service to remember Cromwell Lock tragedy

One of the district’s darkest days will be remembered at a special service on Sunday.

By Jill Buchanan
Friday, 24th September 2021, 12:30 pm

It is 46 years ago since part-time squaddies of 300 Troop, 131 Independent Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers left behind their loved ones for a weekend exercise.

Tragically in the early hours of September 28, 1975, during an 80-mile night navigation exercise on the River Trent and in extreme weather conditions, their boat capsized after a power failure caused the navigation lights on the weir to go out.

Ten of the young men died at Cromwell Lock with only Sapper Pat Harkin surviving.

Pedestrians stop in silent tribute as the coffins of two part-time paratroopers killed in the River Trent disaster are carried through Falkirk High Street in October 1975

The disaster remains the 131 Independent Parachute Squadron's largest peacetime tragedy.

Those who lost their lives were: Raymond Buchanan, Norman Bennett, Terry Smith, all aged 20; James Black, Alexander O’Brien, both 18; Ronald Temprell, 26; Joseph Walker, 21; brothers Stuart, 22, and Peter Evenden, 19; and the youngest victim, 17-year-old Ian Mercer.

Back in 1975 people across the district turned out to pay their respects when the funerals took place.

Remembering 10 TA soldiers killed on the River Trent in 1975 at the memorial in Grangemouth's Zetland Park

A memorial garden with a block of Scottish granite bearing the names of the men who died, now lies next to the lock.

The men are also commemorated at The National Arboretum in Staffordshire.

There is also a small monument to the young men in Grangemouth’s Zetland Park and a service will take place there at 10.45am on Sunday.

Organised by members of the Airborne Engineers Association Scotland, those attending will include families and former comrades of those who died, along with Armed Forces standard bearers.

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