In the Twenty First century East Lothian remains predominantly a rural county just as it was in 1939. Most of its inhabitants worked in farming, its associated trades, down one of its many coal mines situated to the west of the county or as fishermen sailing from a port like Dunbar or Fisherrow. Life here was spent largely though not exclusively at the pace of the horse or tractor and compared to many other British counties its war was to be a fairly quiet one.

However, lying as it does just east of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, and within distant sight of the great naval base of Rosyth and the towering ironwork of the Forth Rail Bridge, East Lothian was to have its moments.

By a strange quirk of fate East Lothian played host to some of its more dramatic experiences at the very beginning and the very end of the war. Aerial bombing of the UK mainland was to commence over its skies and the first German aircraft to be shot down on the mainland fell on Kidlaw, not far from the small village of Humbie.
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In 1945 three JU 52s, painted white for ease of identification, ferried German staff officers to Drem to sign the surrender of all German military forces in Norway. That these forces had remained in Norway in the first place was a tribute to the success of Operation Fortitude North, the northern part of the allied deception plan preparatory to the D-Day landings and largely carried out from the Lothians.

In between these significant events lay a county experiencing a world war: its inhabitants undergoing all the worries, irritants and excitements of a people playing their part in the depths of this cruel contest between life and death. To fight or train alongside them came men and women from all over the world. The graveyards of East Lothian play sad host to men and women from countries as far apart as Poland, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. East Lothian had its war.
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The rural county of East Lothian sits on the southern coastline of the Firth of Forth in eastern Scotland.

The aim of this website is to bring the actions and experiences of those who lived through the Second World War in East Lothian to wider notice.
This will be done through:–

  • A History of Events
  • Eyewitness Accounts
  • Photographs
  • Films and Filmed Interviews.
The development of this site is an on-going process and will take a number of years to complete. Please be patient and revisit to discover updates, which are listed below in the Progress Diary.


The core information on this site is based on research carried out by a group based in Haddington which was inspired and organised by the late Jack Tully Jackson.  This website has been initially constructed around information collated and published by Jack and Ian Brown in two books, “East Lothian at War Volume 1” & “East Lothian at War Volume 2”.  The East Lothian at War website this replaces was based upon these books and has been closed. A significant body of unpublished information is being added by the site author.

Author And thanks

Under the aegis of Haddington History Society, the information the above contained has been re-written and re-designed by David Haire who is also responsible for the inclusion of additional findings and research and the construction of the website post November 2013. David Elder has supplied many of the contemporary photographs (except where indicated) and grateful thanks to Kevan Gordon (of Fix My Mac, Tranent) for the construction of the website template and initial pages.

Help Us!

It is hoped that you, the reader, will make your own contribution to this website. We would be very grateful for additional evidence and for notification of any errors or omissions you notice. Please send such observations or contributions to the contact email address below. We will always acknowledge your contribution on the site where this contribution is known.

Progress Diary

27th February 2013

November 2015
January 2016
January 2016
January 2016
April 2016

April 2016
July 2016
April 2017

31st May 2017

October 2018
February 2019
April 2019
April 2019
April 2019
February 2020
February 2020
Website launched.

Lennoxlove SLG uploaded under Airfields.
Minor alterations to Auxiliary page.
Post-war reconstruction page begun.
Home Front addition.
East Saltoun Home Guard named. PoW toy photos. Air raid: Preston Mains attack eyewitness added. German aircraft section begun.
Two letters added to Amisfield PoW camp section.
More material added to the Whittingehame Farm School page.
Additional contacts listed on the Whittingehame Farm school page.

The sad news came that Jack Tully Jackson had passed away at the age of 93. Long to be remembered.

Personal histories updates.
Uploaded photos of Vaclav Jicha.
Biography of Jicha in Air Accidents.
Margaret Begbie, NFS in Personal Histories.
Additional photo: SLG27 Lennoxlove.
Home Guard: Longniddry unit photo and member Jim O’Donnell’s story.
Personal Histories: George Gillan, Dunbar civilian.