Cromwell Weir Tragedy 1975

A memorial to the men of 300 Troop of 131 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers (V), who died on a night Exercise "Trent Chase" on 28 of September 1975. This was an annual watermanship exercise over approximately 80 miles.

In stormy weather and dark conditions 10 out of the 11 Sappers drowned when their assault boat went over Cromwell Weir, including two Brothers, Sappers Stuart and Peter Evenden. 300 Troop were from Scotland.

The Royal Engineers Regiment Sappers, of Grangemouth, Falkirk, were on night-time exercise when the vessel capsized at Cromwell Weir, on the River Trent.

The sappers were taking part in the Trent Chase, an 80-mile night exercise from Stoke to Hull, on 28 September 1975. They unwittingly went over the weir, known locally as the Devil's Cauldron, when conditions were also worsened by a high tide.

Sapper Pat Harkin (died in November 2012) was the sole survivor  in what remains the 131 Independent Parachute Squadron's largest peacetime tragedy.

The former Lt Col, who took part in the exercise that evening, said he knew some of the men who died. He said: "[My memories] are one of complete shock and sadness. Half of the troop had been wiped out overnight." He said the only survivor, Sapper Pat Harkin, was a "strong swimmer" who managed to hold on to the upturned boat.

A retired police officer, who did not want to be named, arrived at the scene after electricity board staff, who were fixing navigation lights on the weir, raised the alarm. By the time he arrived, the officer said it was pitch black and he could hear just one man shouting from the water. The officer, then aged 20, along with another member of the force, managed to save him after they rowed out in a small boat.

A memorial was erected next to the Locks, opposite to the weir, made of Scottish granite, with the names of the men inscribed on a bronze plaque.

24243227 Sapper Norman Antoni Bennett, aged 29 from Dunblane, Scotland

24349393 Sapper James Black, aged 18, from Grangemouth, Scotland

Sapper Raymond Buchanan, aged 20

24349433 Sapper Peter Jackson Evenden, aged 19 from Falkirk, Scotland, buried in Falkirk Cemetery

24382129 Sapper Stuart Evenden, aged 22  from Falkirk, Scotland, buried in Falkirk Cemetery

24362105 Sapper Ian Mercer, aged 17 from Falkirk

24362246 Sapper Alexander Flannagan O'Brien, aged 18 from Alloa, Scotland. Buried Alloa, Sunnyside Cemetery, Sec. 2 Grave 499

24317712 Sapper Terry Smith, aged 20 from Falkirk

24362163 Sapper Ronald Temprell, aged 26 from Alloa, buried Sunnyside Cemetery Sec. 2

24382108 Sapper Joseph Walker, aged 21 from Dunfermline, cremated at Falkirk crematorium. 

Created with information from and BBC News article  with addition research made by Airborne Assault.

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