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Fraserburgh remembers: Emotional service held for lifeboat crew who made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’

Former lifeboat crew have laid flowers at sea in tribute to their colleagues who died in the 1970 Fraserburgh tragedy.

A group of 17 cox, mechanics, crew and officers who are no longer part of the RNLI took to the seas on Saturday to pay tribute to the five men who gave their lives saving others.

On January 21, 1970 the Duchess of Kent lifeboat was launched to help Opal, a Danish fishing vessel which had sprung a leak shortly after 7am 40 miles from the shore.

Within three minutes of coxswain John Stephen and his six crew reaching the stricken vessel disaster struck as the boat was hit by a huge wave and overturned.

One man, John Jackson Buchan, survived the tragedy.

John Stephen, Frederick Kirkness, William Hadden, James R.S. Buchan and James Buchan lost their lives.

Fifty years on, Fraserburgh remembers: Memorial for tragic lifeboat crew

At the weekend, an emotional service was held at sea where retired cox Albert Sutherland spoke about those who made the “ultimate sacrifice”.

He said: “It’s not fine but we’ve to remember those and not hide the tragedy away.

“It was a wave that hit them due to gale-force wind. It’s not a case of going when you want to go – it’s going when you have to.

“It’s a thing of dedication and something big to join the crew full time but people still do it willingly.

“The service was full of mixed emotion and we laid wreaths and flowers.

“Some of the crew with us weren’t born when it happened but these men gave everything and we’ve got to keep the memories alive as it’s all we have left.”

They made the trip on the restored Fraserburgh Lifeboat the Douglas Currie which replaced the capsized ship.

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