Fraserburgh man speaks about the lifeboat tragedy

Charlie Parker, who was at the harbour and helped in the rescue effort when the John and Charles Kennedy capsized 60 years ago.
Charlie Parker, who was at the harbour and helped in the rescue effort when the John and Charles Kennedy capsized 60 years ago.

A Fraserburgh man has been speaking about his memories of the lifeboat tragedy that hit the town 60 years ago this week.

Charlie Parker, who is 89 and lives on King Edward Street, has spoken to the Fraserburgh Herald about the day the John and Charles Kennedy capsized, killing six crew members. Mr Parker lived on Castle Street when the tragedy struck in 1953 and went to the harbour to try and save the crew members who were on the lifeboat.

In particular, Mr Parker hopes to draw attention to a boat seen leaving the harbour to help with the rescue efforts. Mr Parker says the skipper and crew of the boat never received the recognition they deserved.

Commenting on the tragedy, Mr Parker said: “I was out washing my car when the Lighthouse keeper came down the street and told me the lifeboat had gone over. Then we both went down to the harbour.

“I tried to grab a body from the shore but as I grabbed him we were washed right up the beach with the force of the water. A number of men jumped on us to hold us down because of the force of the waves.”

Mr Parker believes it was John Ralph Buchan who he tried to help save. He says there were hundreds of people who watched the tragedy unfold.

Mr Parker continued: “A fishing boat went out of the harbour but I don’t know the name of the boat or the skipper. It was a brave thing for him and the crew to do. I think the man who went out on the boat should have been recognised.

“I went back home and changed my clothes. When I went back I remember seeing Coxswain Andrew Ritchie being lifted on a stretcher and Dr Ross on top of the stetcher trying to revive him. I still remember it as clear as a bell.”

Mr Parker, who used to own a taxi business, is widowed and has one son and one grandson. He has lived on King Edward Street for nearly 25 years.