Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

World War II is still lying around – in some places

It was nice to see our Commando and SOE (Special Operation Executive) training areas in the Highlands near Fort William get a mention in an article inspired by the occasions where old ordnance is still uncovered in unexpected places. Well, unexpected for those who haven’t been hunting the stuff for years.

In a fairly long article for the BBC, the idea of enjoying q nice wander in the countryside was tempered with:

But some of these idyllic spots hide potentially explosive secrets.

Every year, unsuspecting members of the public stumble upon dozens of undetonated shells and bombs, most dating back to World War II.

So what happened in these remote places during the war? And how much do we know about the people who lived and worked there?

Of the Scottish training, it said:

The D-Day landings of WWII were key to the liberation of German-occupied western Europe. Although bloody, brutal and chaotic, they had been rehearsed at length.

Training took place around the UK, including at Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands, where troops dodged live bullets as they practised beach assaults.

Commandos were based at Achnacarry, near Fort William, with Special Operations Executive (SOE) at Lochailort, near Mallaig.

Local coastguard Craig Burton said: “Camas an Lighe, more popularly known as Singing Sands, on the north coast bears witness to that history. The beaches and their dune system were used for live fire landings training prior to many operations, including D-Day. One in particular, known locally as number three beach, contains most of the evidence.”

He said: “Operations involved using fixed-height machine guns, fired above the troops as they landed. They returned fire as they advanced up the beach using rifles, machine guns, mortars, grenades and other ordnance.”

While most of the ordnance left over from those days has either been found or cleared, there’s still a chance that something might be uncovered, and remain hazardous, so anything found is best left alone and notified. High explosive is bad enough, but there have been mortar bombs with phosphorous, and they can be nasty if damaged.

Via On the trail of Britain’s WWII ‘explosive’ beauty spots

We have also looked at a number of these sites, and a number of SOE training schools are listed here:

Secret Scotland – Special Operations Executive

And for the Commandos:

Secret Scotland – Achnacarry House

The Commando monument at Spean Bridge now looks out over the area, in their memory.

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July 2, 2013 - Posted by | military, World War I, World War II | , , , , ,

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