EAST LOTHIAN 
AT WAR
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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 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.


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.