Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Nairn's wartime links to D-Day revealed

Today's BBC Scotland News reports on some seventy years old ordnance being found on a Scottish beach:

War-time explosives at Nairn's East Beach made safe

Two mortar bombs found on a Highland beach used to train troops for the D-Day landings in World War II have been safely disposed of.

Explosives found at Nairn's East Beach. Pic: Northern ConstabularyThe devices found by a member of the public at about 09:45 were thought to have been exposed by shifting sand at Nairn's East Beach. Edinburgh-based bomb disposal experts made the weapons safe, police said.

Nairn's beaches were used to prepare soldiers and sailors for the Allied landings in Normandy in June 1944. Military personnel were based at nearby Fort George at the time.

The remains of tanks used in the rehearsals have previously been found further east along the coast from Nairn. A Valentine tank was lost by the Royal Hussars at Culbin Forest and two others in Burghead Bay.
Northern Constabulary had put in place a 100m (328ft) cordon at East Beach.

It's worth adding that the 13/18th Royal Hussars put their training to good use when they landed on Sword Beach on D-Day along with the rest of 3rd Division. If you are wondering how they could lose a Valentine tank in a forest as reported by the BBC, it is in fact under the sea off Culbin Sands

Culbin Sands offered what seemed like a perfect place to practice amphibious landings but the treacherous tides ensured that 3rd Division suffered several casualties in training over the winter of 1943-44. A small memorial commemorates the time before D-Day spent on the beaches of Nairn and Moray by the Division. You can see a photograph of it on the Scottish War Memorials Project.

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