Introduction


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 Port Seton. 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, still waters run deep. 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
 
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.

Sources


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 newly researched and unpublished information is being added by the site author.

Author And thanks


Key to this new version of the East Lothian at War website has been the knowledgeable guidance and assistance provided by Kevan Gordon of Fix my Mac, Tranent. The website wouldn't have got very far without his generous help. Of huge significance too, has been the financial assistance and support provided by Haddington History Society. David Elder has provided many of the current photographs and the author of others has been indicated where apposite. My grateful thanks to them all.

The website is being maintained and expanded by David Haire, the site's custodian and author.

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

November 2020

October 2020


27th Feb 2013
Wartime Industries: significant additional information re Weatherhead's, Cockenzie

Website relaunched and updated to modern standards of accessibility and security.

Website launched