Friday, 25 November 2016

A Look at Earlston during the Second World War

War Weapons Week the Home Guard, Munition Workers and a Polish Tank Regiment - all feature in this look at Earlston during the Second World War.

In August 1941 War Weapons Week was held across Britain as a major national fund raising campaign to provide for the replacement of weapons lost in the evacuation from Dunkirk.

Each town was given a figure to raise. Earlston's target was £8000. In fact the "patriotic investors of Earlston" raised £23.006, 18 shillings and 4 pence - a phenomenal amount and equivalent to over £1 million pounds today. [Source: Measuring Worth] 

 Southern Reporter:  4th September 1941

The fancy dress parade included a float depicting Mary Queen of Scots and her the Four Mary's - Peggy Betts, Ella Montgomery, Lizzie Burrell, Mary Young and Mame Weatherstone.

Voluntary organisations were  on parade, including nurses and the Home Guard.  

Earlston Home Guard, drilling at Carolside. 

The Home Guard (initially "Local Defence Volunteers" or LDV) was a defence organisation operational from 1940 until 1944. The Home Guard was composed of 1.5 million local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, such as those too young or too old to join the services, or those in reserved occupation - and is best known today from its portrayal in the TV comedy "Dad's Army".
 The Home Guard's role was to act as a secondary defence force, in case of invasion by the enemy. The Home Guard continued to guard the coastal areas of the United Kingdom and other important places such as airfields, factories and explosives stores until late 1944 when they were stood down, and finally disbanded in December 1945. [Source - Wikipedia]

Also supporting the War Effort in Earlston - Local Munitions Workers.


Earlston women munition workers were employed at Charlesfield, St. Boswells and at Rodgers in Earlston. Ella Hood recalled being sent to college at Portobello, Edinburgh to learn how to operate a lathe. She said there were two shifts working seven days a week involving dozens of women.

Around 950,000 British women worked in munitions factories during the Second World War, making weapons like shells and bullets. Munitions work was often well-paid, but involved long hours. Workers were also at serious risk from accidents with dangerous machinery or when working with high explosive material. Some munitions workers handled toxic chemicals every day. Those who handled sulphur were nicknamed ‘Canary Girls’, because their skin and hair turned yellow from contact with the chemical. [Source: My Learning.Org ]


The Polish Tank Regiment in Earlston

General Eisenhower arriving at Earlston Station in 1944 to inspect 
the Polish Tank Regiment stationed in the village. 
Tanks in Earlston Square, under close inspection  by two little boys.

Polish troops under the command of General Stanislav Maczek trained across Scotland including Berwickshire, before taking part in the Normandy Landings of 1944. At its peak, the division numbered 16,000 soldiers.

In Earlston, the rugby club pitch and clubhouse were requisitioned by the military. Approximately one third of the pitch was dug out and concrete laid to make a "hull-down" park for the tanks stationed in the area preparing for D-Day.

The Polish contingent in the village involved themselves in local community events, including playing for the dances which were a popular form of wartime  entertainment.  
 The Polish band playing for a dance in the Corn Exchange. 

With a thank you from the Auld Earlston Group to everyone 
who has supplied the photographs featured here.   


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Earlston War Memorial

On the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, 

the Great War of 1914-1918 came to an end.

Two years later on Sunday 13th November 1921, in a service of dedication in the square, Earlston War Memorial was unveiled by Mrs Hope, wife of Colonel Hope of Cowdenknowes, chairman of the War Memorial Committee,

The War Memorial was built on the site of the old Pump Well in the Market Square,  "The Southern Reporter" of 17th November 1921 noted that the memorial was designed by Galashiels sculptor Thomas Clapperton, and executed in Creetown granite  by Messrs G. Sutherland and Sons, Galashiels.  at a total cost of £650.  The report also listed  the forty-eight  men whose names were inscribed on the memorial,   the names of the fund raising  committee and details of the  service, including  the  speech by Colonel Hope of Cowdenknowes. . 

Colonel Hope looked back at the campaigns and sacrifices of the Earlston men who never returned home and concluded:

"This Memorial which we are about to unveil, will keep the memories of those brave men always before the minds of those seeing it from day to day , or passing by it from time to time.  We are proud also today to see so  Manny of those salient men who went forth from this parish and have been spared to rturn to their homes.  And now having all pulled together to win the war........ shall we not now all pull together to  win  the true peace and prosperity which  are so much wanted throughout the world after all the devastation of the war."  


The memorial inscription reads "To the glory of God and in memory of the 48 men of Earlston Parish who gave their lives for King and Country during the Great War. Their names liveth for evermore".

Names of the fallen, as listed in the Dedication Service Programme (above) 

Aikman, William F.                  Aitchison, Alexander S.        Archibald, James S.          Ballantyne David                     George, Lord Binning            Black, Archibald
Borthwick, David A.                Boyd, John                            Cessford, Alexander
Dickson, John                          Duff, Henry                           Elliot, Henry
Faichney, Thomas                    Fairley, Alexander               Forbes, Henry W.
Gillie, Thomas                         Graham, William                   Hardie, James
Hardie, John T.                       Hewitt, John                        Johnston, George R.
Kerr, William                           Kerr, William G.                   Lees, Robert
Lunam, David                          Milne, Alexnder                    Notman, James
Paterson, David                       Robertson, James W.           Simpson, Alexander
Simpson, George                     Slassor, Walter                      Stirling, William
Thomson, James                     Turnbull, Henry C.                Turnbull, William
Todd, George                          Vallance, Thomas                  Weatherston, James
White Robert R.                      Wilkie, William                      Wilson, Adam
Wilson, Robert                        Wilson, William                     Young, George
Young, John F.                        Young, Robert D.                  Young, William R.

Following the Second World War, a bronze tablet was added, with seven more names of those who lost their lives in the conflict. 

Brown, Robert                         Colville, David                      Donaldson, Walter Scott
Falconer, Edward                    Faulkener, Robert Mason    Johnston, John T. 
Sandilands, David 



The Auld Earlston Group would be pleased  to receive for its collection  any wartime memories or photographs which could be scanned and returned to you.

Please contact 


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Wartime Air Crash over Earlston - UPDATE

Last November the Auld Earlston blog featured an account of the Darlingfield Air Crash of 1943 when a German bomber came down near the village, killing all four members of the crew.  Click HERE to read the full account.

Recently Henning Hiestermann  the grandson of the pilot, Paul  Rogge (left),  made a return visit to Earlston with members of the Aircrew Remembrance Society who were making a further investigation of the site.   

A new plaque was placed at the simple memorial, in the presence of members of the Auld Earlston Group, who assisted in the original enquiry to trace more information on the crash. 

It was a beautiful crisp autumn afternoon, standing in the field, surrounded by the peaceful Borders countryside that 73  years earlier had witnessed a tragedy of war.
 Henning Hiestermann (centre) with members of the Auld Earlston Group

  Henning holding a portrait of his grandfather on the site of  the crash