World War Two week in Loch Ewe

BY LISA FALCONER
lisa.falconer@whfp.co.uk

The Loch Ewe community took a step back in time last week for the annual World War II and Arctic Convoy commemoration week.

Organised by the Russian Arctic Convoy Museum Project, this year’s American theme remembered the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the SS ‘William H Welch’ in which 74 people perished. The American Liberty ship went down near the mouth of Loch Ewe on 26th February 1944 carrying 86 men. Local crofters battled through snow storms to help the few survivors.

Throughout the week a variety of talks, walks and events took place remembering life in Loch Ewe during World War Two and the Arctic convoys which departed from the area. A “stars and stripes” themed war-time dance on Saturday evening brought events to a close.

The main focal point of the week was the exhibition at Inverasdale Primary School, which highlights the legacy of the convoys. The exhibition was officially opened by Lord Lieutenant of Ross and Cromarty Janet Bowen and Timofey Kunitskiy, Vice-Consul of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh.
As well as new exhibits and a substantially enlarged Arctic convoy display area, the Inverasdale School Heritage Group have also renovated the Old School House tea room, which holds an exhibition on the history of the school.

Among the items on display last week were items on loan from the RAF Lossiemouth Museum and Mr Kunitskiy presented the project with Russian memorabilia including an original sailors hat.
Elizabeth Miles, honorary secretary of the Russian Arctic Convoy Museum Project, said: “The RACMP committee are delighted at the extraordinary level of support by many members of the local community who worked tirelessly to prepare the exhibition in readiness for this season.

“They would also like to thank all those from near and far who attended our events, thus contributing to the great success of WWII Week 2014.”

Among those visiting the exhibition was Andrew Choong, curator of historic photographs and ship plans at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, who added: “What a wonderful set up, you are doing the memory of these men proud.”

Committee members Bruce Hudson, Stuart MacKenzie and George Milne are pictured with exhibits of the American Liberty ship SS ‘William H Welch’, which was shipwrecked outside Loch Ewe on the 26th February 1944. Two members of the crew, John King and Russell Ross are still alive today

The Inverasdale exhibition is open until October.