43rd anniversary of lifeboat tragedy nears

MEMORIAL: The memorial statue outside Fraserburgh's lifeboat station.
MEMORIAL: The memorial statue outside Fraserburgh's lifeboat station.

Monday will mark the 43rd anniversary of the tragedy which took the lives of five crew aboard the Fraserburgh lifeboat ‘The Duchess of Kent’.

On the morning of January 21, 1970, the lifeboat was launched to go to the assistance of the Danish vessel ‘Opal’, which had sent word that she was taking on water 38 miles offshore.

Making contact with her just after noon, the lifeboat was tragically capsized in a wave, resulting in the deaths of coxswain John Stephen, mechanic Fred Kirkness and crew members William Hadden, James Buchan, and James R. S. Buchan.

Assistant mechanic John Jackson Buchan was the sole survivor, which left 15 youngsters without their fathers and five widows without their husbands.

Less than 20 years prior, the ‘John and Charles Kennedy’ capsized at the harbour entrance, which killed six of its seven crew in 1953.

In 1919, the ‘Lady Rothes’ also capsized within view of the harbour.

Commemorating the lives which had been lost at sea by Fraserburgh’s lifeboat crew, a memorial was erected in recognition of the 13 men in 2010, following a fundraising drive which saw £40,000 raised to complete the project.