Continuing on the theme of ruined buildings in the mountains, see blog entry for May 2013, Our director Douglas Campbell recently came across some ruined stone-wall bivouacs at the back of Ben Macdui in the Cairngorms which he believes may date back to the early 1940’s when the 52nd Lowland Division of the British Army was undergoing their mountain warfare training in this area. The ‘Mountaineers’ were formed and specially trained up to fight the Germans in Norway – Douglas’s grandfather was in the 4th KOSB which was part of this division and he spent a lot of time with them in the Cairngorms early in the war; he has pictures of them in a regimental book setting up Howitzers on the flanks of Braeriach, and snow-holing on the side of Ben Macdui in the 1940’s. Their history during WW2 is fascinating – they were eventually told the invasion of Norway was never going to happen (it was an elaborate hoax designed to draw a large section of the German army north, away from Normandy for D-Day), then they were re-trained as glider troops to be dropped at Arnhem alongside the parachute troops but their involvement was (perhaps fortunately given the outcome) also cancelled; they were finally trained for sea-borne assault, and found themselves in landing craft going to the Walcheren Islands on 4th October 1944, part of the push to open up the port of Antwerp for the allies, where they took part in some very fierce fighting in the main town. It is indeed humbling to stand at the ruins on Macdui and think of the contrast these men experienced, going from their mountain bivouacs in the Cairngorms to the urban battlefields of Western Europe. To learn more about Operation Infatuate, the battle to secure Walcheren, follow this link…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Infatuate