SOMETIMES it is the simplest of things which spark long-buried memories, happy and sad.

The discovery of a long-forgotten letter brought the dramatic events of March 27, 1978 rushing back for one Times Past reader.

Bobby Pollock, from Croftfoot, explains: “I found a letter of commendation from Strathclyde Police my flatmate Gordon and I received back in 1978.

“I hadn’t thought about that day for many years, but seeing that letter again brought it all back.”

It was a stormy Easter Monday, and Bobby and a few pals were walking along the promenade at Millport on the isle of Cumbrae.

“We went over regularly from Glasgow for holidays,” he explains.

Glasgow Times: Millport on the island of Cumbrae.

“My friend, Alistair Roberts, had a fishing boat, but he wasn’t out that day because of the weather.

“Suddenly, we spotted two men bobbing up and down in a small boat, and as we watched, a huge wave hit the boat and flipped both men into the rough sea.”

Alistair jumped into action, and he, Bobby and Gordon launched their boat to try to rescue the stricken sailors.

“Within minutes, we were on our way into the huge waves,” recalls Bobby.

“We reached the first man to discover he was not wearing a life jacket.

“As we approached, the boat was pulled away by a large wave so we had to go round again, and this time, he had disappeared under the surface of the water.

“Time was of the essence. As we reached him, two of us managed to haul him on board, and we headed towards his friend.”

Increasingly desperate, the men searched for the second sailor, but he had disappeared.

“I asked for a rope to be tied round my waist and I was planning to jump in, but I was advised against it,” says Bobby.

“At last he reappeared, but although we reached him and tried to grab him, as our hands touched a huge wave pulled us away.

“He went under, and never reappeared.”

Bobby shakes his head.

“It was incredibly sad. By the time we got back, a huge crowd had gathered, along with the police and an ambulance.

“The police took our details and thanked us for our public-spirited actions. The man we saved was treated in hospital, but his friend drowned – it was a huge tragedy.”

Later, Bobby discovered the two men had met in a pub in Largs and had decided to go fishing despite the stormy weather.

Our sister newspaper The Herald reported in March 1978: “A 24-year-old Londoner was drowned in the Firth of Clyde yesterday after he and a companion ignored a local boatman’s warning against putting out in their 12ft outboard powerboat.

“Nigel Barnes-Watt, a shop assistant, was swept away just as a rescuer grasped his hand.”

Bobby’s letter from the then Chief Constable states: “It has been brought to my notice that you rendered valuable assistance to the Police on Monday, March 27 1978 when a boat overturned in Millport Bay and two men were thrown into the sea.

“Your public-spirited actions in immediately going to their assistance undoubtedly saved the life of one of the men in the Bay.”

Bobby is now a grandfather and volunteers for a number of charities and good causes in and around Glasgow.

READ MORE: When Gordon Strachan was attacked by a fan during 1980s Celtic match

He was chosen for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games baton relay in recognition of his volunteering dedication.

He adds: “I did relive the day’s events many times over the coming weeks.

“We all wished it had ended differently, of course. I wish we could have saved both men.”

Share your memories with Times Past via or Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG