On 27 December General Eisenhower was officially named head of Overload, the planned Allied invasion of Normandy, as 1943 ended with a series of victories for the Allies. On 28 December the small Italian town of Ortona was finally captured by Allied forces after bloody fighting which resulted in the battle being called the “Italian Stalingrad”. On 29 December Soviet forces won a dramatic victory along the line west of Kiev, forcing some 200,000 German troops back towards the Polish border. And on 30 December the First U.S. Marines captured a strategically key airfield at Cape Gloucester on the South Pacific island of New Britain.
And so Caithness prepared to welcome in its fifth year of war. The Caithness Courier reported that the children attending Thurso West and Scrabster Sabbath Schools had their annual Xmas Treat on 27 December at the West Church Hall: “The juniors were entertained in the afternoon, the seniors in the evening. Both parties opened with the singing of a hymn and the repetition of the Lord’s Prayer. A sumptuous tea was served by the teachers and various games were heartily indulged in. The happy faces of the children expressed their delight and voted the parties a success.”
Also in the Courier was a letter from Sergeant “Barney” Robertson, with news of the “Thurso Boys in India”: “There are quite a few of us here, and it is no unusual sight to see some car or gun bearing such names as “Thurso Lassie” or “Thursonian” come rumbling through one of India’s ancient cities.” Sgt Robertson goes on to mention Lieutenant R.M. Manson (“wee Roy Manson”) and Sandy Ruby, former Junior Band Leader in the Salvation Army, before concluding: “The Thurso Boys wish you and your paper all the best. They themselves are all fine but longing to ge back to their ain fireside.”
Finally this week, as our thoughts turn to the New Year, the John O’Groat Journal contained an advertisement recently for the Annual County Event to celebrate Old New Year on 12 January with a supper, dance and show at the Breadalbane Ballroom (“keep this date free”). “Miss 1944” was Miss Mary S. Hendry. All profits would go to the 51st (Highland) Division Comforts Fund.
Coming soon! Week 227, 3rd – 9th January 1944, will be published on Monday 2nd January 2017. To view previous issues please use the menus on the right hand side of the page.
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