AN exciting new event, the Loch Ewe World War II Festival, is being launched in Poolewe, in Wester Ross, this week, to showcase the intrepid Russian Arctic Convoys that braved the North Atlantic passage to Russia in extreme weather and war-time conditions.
The passage once described by Sir Winston Churchill as the “the worst journey in the world”, they brought support to our ally in what was a vital strategic war effort.
A two-day extravaganza of military and naval re-enactments in Loch Ewe and Aultbea, on 6 and 7 May, will be complemented with a movie night, Highland Swing band, D-Day Darlings singers to reminisce along with some serious vintage glamour and military style.
This being the 75th anniversary of the first Convoys from Loch Ewe to Russia, military and cultural representatives, veterans and guests from Russia, Britain and the USA will be attending to mark this momentous era, with a special memorial service at Rubha Nan Sasan, at the head of Loch Ewe.
This is the site of the emergency coastal battery that protected the gathering place for the convoys.
The Russian Arctic Convoy Project festival team has developed a multi-faceted plan for the event working with the local community, veteran organisations and naval and military representatives.
Elizabeth Miles, Hon. Secretary of RACP, said: “To gain an understanding of what happened here during WWII, we thought a full-scale re-enactment and themed entertainment would give it immediate colour and set it in context.
“We want to recognise and ensure that we keep this incredible international history and heritage alive for our future generations and it is a fitting time to do this in the Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology 2017.
“We are honoured to have some of the few remaining veterans attending, whom, against the odds came through this dire time.
“Three thousand sailors who left from here tragically did not make it, but the stories of bravery, heroic endeavour and sheer guts are ones that will be told in our new Exhibition Centre at Aultbea and accessible to visitors on the NC500 route.”
Over the course of the weekend, visitors and WWII enthusiasts alike will have a chance to see war-time vehicles, including a Soviet T34 tank, half-track personnel carrier; full-size replica Spitfire and Messerschmitt planes, plus re-enactors in full costume.
The Russian sail training ship ‘Yuny Baltiets’ from St Petersburg will also visit with its crew plus around 40 Russian sea cadets.
Visitors will also have a chance to sail around the bay on the Sealife Glass Bottom Boat.
This will be a rare opportunity to see Loch Ewe from a sailor’s perspective.
Captain Rick Holmes will highlight the key points of interest relating to the Arctic Convoys.
A contingent of the Royal Marine Band and local pipe bands will be making the event extra special with performances over the weekend.
The Hon. Tim Lewin, vice-president of the HMS Belfast Association, whose father served on the Arctic Convoys, said: “Bringing together the few remaining veterans, cultural and military representatives from many countries is a testament to all who those who fought and took part.
“This landmark event will go a long way to reinforcing the sacrifice, the raw bravery and belief of the men involved in a current and engaging way for our young people.”
The festival will also see the official opening of the new Arctic Convoy Exhibition Centre at Aultbea to make the area a dynamic and engaging destination highlighting the naval fleet locations, coastal batteries and billets that will undoubtedly draw people from across the UK and the world to view this outstanding maritime and military heritage.
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Image courtesy of Northern Forties Re-enactment group.
Tickets are required for event highlights including entry to the re-enactment camps, The Highland Swing Band, D-Day Darlings singing trio, Vintage Beauty Parlour, Movie Night and tour of Inverewe House, Garden and Boat Trip.
For tickets, check out http://www.theracproject.org/festival2/tickets.php
For entry to all re-enactment locations, the ‘Battle of Britain’ site in Aultbea, and the ‘Allied Camp’ at Poolewe during the Loch Ewe WWII Festival in May 2017.
It will also give you free access to our shuttle bus service between locations.
Valid for one day. This is an e-ticket. You will need to print it and present it when you arrive on site. Tickets are valid for one day and cost £15 (£10 concessions). Concessions are for children under-16 and OAPs.
The D-Day Darlings and The Highland Swing Band 6th May – 18:30 – 22:00. Tickets cost £25 to see the D-Day darlings and the Highland Swing band live in Aultbea Hall. Limited numbers are available so book early. There will be an overflow marquee available next to the venue where the show will be live streamed on a big screen. The performers will make appearances in the marquee too to meet and greet the audience. Tickets for the marquee cost £15 for adults, £10 for concessions (under 16s, OAPs), and £40 for a family ticket (two adults and two children).
Vintage beauty parlour Available between 10:00 – 13:00, and 14:00 – 18:00 on Saturday. Available 9:00-11:00 and 14:20-17:00 on Sunday. There are three time slots available with the Vintage Beauty Parlour stylists. A session with the stylists’ costs £35 and lasts 20 minutes. 20-minute sessions provide make-up, 40-minute sessions are available for hair styling, and 60-minute sessions are available for full hair and make-up. Tickets are available in 20-minute increments, so if you wish to book a 40-minute session you will need to buy twi tickets with adjacent time slots. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Saturday tickets are available here.
Sunday tickets are available here.
Movie Night 7th May – 18:00. Tickets to see South Pacific in Aultbea Hall, (which was used as a cinema during the War), cost £7 and include refreshments. Limited numbers are available so book early. Click here to buy tickets. Make sure you’re suitably dressed as we will announce the prize for ‘Sunday’s Best Dressed’ after the show.
Inverewe Garden, tour of Inverse House and boat trip Available 6th and 7th May 10:00 – 17:00. We are delighted that the collaboration with the National Trust for Scotland has allowed us to offer an unique opportunity to enjoy the gardens, a tour of Inverewe House and a spectacular voyage on Loch Ewe. This is a rare opportunity to see Loch Ewe as the sailors of the convoys would have done 75 years ago. Your Captain, Rick Holmes, will set the scene, and show you key points of interest relating to the Arctic Convoys. Tickets provide visitors with admission to the world famous Inverewe Garden, a guided tour of the recently restored Inverewe House, and a 45-minute boat trip on Loch Ewe, provided by Sealife Glass Bottom Boat Cruises. There are limited number of tickets available for this exclusive package, so book early to avoid disappointment. Tickets are £40.
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