Memorial for SAC Calum Robertson

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On 19th March 2014, a team of RAF divers sunk a Tornado GR4 Ejection Seat in the National Diving Centre Stoney Cove as a permanent memorial to Senior Aircraftman Calum Robertson, a Safety Equipment Fitter at IX(B) Sqn, RAF Marham.

Calum, a Sports Diver and a member of the RAF Marham Sub Aqua Club, was very passionate about diving, but tragically he lost his life doing the sport he loved on 9th December 2012. The memorial plaque on the ejection seat reads ‘Loved Life, Loved Water, Loved Diving’ and it sums up Calum perfectly.

Sgt Angie Dickinson and Cpl Clive Hodgson from the RAF Marham Sub Aqua Club took over a year to plan and organise the event, which was a fitting tribute to their lost colleague. Its members showed huge initiative and resilience to overcome the hurdles that allowed them to obtain a scrap ejection seat and the permission to sink it, to weight the seat safely, to plan the sinking and obtain all the equipment required, to organise the diving and memorial service and, most impressively, to set up a flypast by two Tornados from IX(B) Sqn, RAF Marham where Calum had worked. Two Tornadoes created an impressive sight and is not something that you see at Stoney Cove everyday!

Joining in on the day were members of other RAF Sub Aqua clubs to assist in the sinking, and also colleagues and friends of Calum who came to pay their respects. The seat was set in a concrete plinth, so needed hoisting by Stoney Cove’s crane over a wall and into four metres of water next to the bus stop. The dive team of Sgt Mick Figge and Cpl Clive Hodgson then inflated two lifting bags to take the weight of the near 400kg seat. When the lifting strops were disconnected from the crane, the team temporarily had a floating seat! To save the divers a lot of hard work, Stoney Cove kindly towed the seat out to the position 160o out from the Stanegarth wreck. A waster line and buoy was attached to the seat and the two divers then deflated the lifting bag just enough for the seat to start sinking. It dropped to the quarry floor at a depth of 20m, with the buoy marking its position.

A surface interval allowed time for the silt around the seat to settle and a memorial service was conducted by Padre Mike Hall, during which the flypast took place. The support shown by RAF Marham, in supporting the planning and in people turning up on the day was incredible; a testament to a popular and well liked BSAC diver.

After the memorial service, a subsequent dive removed lifting bags from the seat and confirmed a safe final landing for the ejection seat, which was stable, albeit slightly tilted off the vertical. Immediate underwater photography was limited by residual silt.

Finally, other divers descended the line to the wreck in buddy pairs to pay their respects, flowers were tie-wrapped to the seat by SAC Laura Allen and the last pair of divers detached the waster line so the buoy could be recovered.

A fitting tribute to Calum, the poignant memorial was jointly organised by two of Calum’s close friends and dive buddies. Calum would have been overwhelmed by the personal tribute paid and the hard work that went into this event. The RAF extends its warm thanks to Martin Woodward, owner of Stoney Cove, for allowing the team to sink a permanent memorial, to Mr Dipple of Field Services UK for the permission to sink the seat, to XI(B) Sqn, RAF Marham for an incredible flypast, to Padre Hall and to all the divers and supervisors whose participation on the day ensured success.

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