Les  Gracie

Les Gracie

United Kingdom
About: Disaster Responder - Firefighter
Bio: Les Gracie was working as a firefighter in Lockerbie at the time of the disaster. He was one of the first crews on the scene when plane crashed into the town, and he was tasked with not only controlling fires and gas leaks, but also searching for bodies. Les' story is one of bravery, courage and resilience.
  • First Responder

Lockerbie Firefighter - One of the First Crews On the Disaster Scene

The day of the attack

12/21/1988

Les Gracie was working as a firefighter in Lockerbie at the time of the disaster. He was one of the first crews on the scene when plane crashed into the town, and he was tasked with not only controlling fires and gas leaks, but also searching for bodies.

Les begins his story describing where he was when the terrorist attack happened. 

When Les first reached the fire station, he was deployed to Park Place in response to a gas leakage. Whilst there, a colleague found a piece of luggage with the inscription 'Pan Am 103'- which immediately informed the crews that the plane that had come down was much larger than a light aircraft. 

They then began to find numerous bodies in the surrounding streets and gardens, which confirmed the horrific situation. Overwhelmed with the amount of fires across the town and not enough water to fight them, the local creamery sent milk tankers full of water to assist in the efforts.

Les and his colleagues were using their specialist equipment to search on the roofs of houses for bodies and body parts. Once they had established where the bodies were, the police took over proceedings. 

Les invited the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Legacy Foundation team to visit the Fire Station in Lockerbie, where he spoke about his work during the bombing. Whilst showing the team one of the current fire engines, Les recalled a haze that shrouded the town on the night of the attack.

The days following the attack

12/22/1988

After working through the night of the attack, Les and his fellow firefighters were asked to return to the place where they were initially sent. They were on standby as the police began to try and identify individuals.

Les describes the difficulty in navigating around the crash scene, as the place was full of debris- including thousands of toy soldiers and medical supplies that had been stowed in the plane's cargo.

The amount of work involved in the aftermath of the attack was a seemingly never-ending task for the emergency crews. The crime scene was mammoth in its size and scale, and the fire crews spent weeks working on the recovery efforts. 

Despite working day-in, day-out on the Lockerbie disaster, Les tried his best to carry on his life as normal. He had a family to provide for and look after, and tried to focus on creating daily routines. 

Long-term effects of the attack

3/10/1989

Les and his colleagues were never given any official counselling for what they had witnessed in the days and weeks following the terrorist attack. It was a case of colleagues speaking with each other about their experiences.

Les Gracie, photographed in 1990 during his service with the fire service

Les Gracie, alongside his fellow firefighters, was presented with certificate of thanks from the Firemaster, who acknowledged their "exceptional" work in connection with the Lockerbie Air Disaster. 

The certificate presented by the Firemaster in acknowledgement of the work carried out by the firefighters in response to the bombing

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