Yesterday, June 12th.
While most folks on the cruise ship took off for tours and hikes exploring Edinburgh, I stayed home. The Ms Rotterdam anchored in Queensferry, as close in to Edinburgh as possible, then sent forth boat tenders, bobbing in choppy waters like puffy orange toys. I preferred watching them come and go while reading a book in The Explorer’s Lounge on Deck 5. Lots to be learned from books, and it wasn’t my first time visiting Edinburgh.
Today, June 13th, we anchored off a small slice of Scotland called, Invergordon. Grabbed my rain jacket, before venturing out of the Explorer’s Lounge into the town. Drew deep breaths of fresh sea air, remembering Gloucester.
Invergordon’s deep harbor held a prominent place during World War I, serving as a “fuel depot and repair base for the British Fleet.” (Invergordon Museum fact sheet) Oil tanks still pepper the landscape, holdovers from the war. But the”war to end all wars” didn’t do as promised. Inside the small museum, my attention was drawn to an exhibit on the 25th Polish infantry stationed here at the end of WWII. They were supposed to assume occupation duties in Europe but the war ended and it never happened.
About 1000 Polish soldiers plus officers took up residency in this small Scottish town. They built a war memorial with stones from the beach. They played Glen Miller tunes and held dances. No war games. The memorial’s still there and each November a Remembrance service is held “with an excellent turnout. Descendants of the 25th take part. To hear so many voices singing the Polish national anthem accompanied by Duncan MacGillivray on bagpipes is an emotional moment.” (from the Museum guide)
As I looked at rows of Polish soldiers in the framed photo, they looked so young. And they were. A number of them married Scottish lasses and settled in the area. In the 1950s some of the Polish men started a chorus, singing during Christmas, raising funds for the upkeep of the memorial.
Two white-haired women manned the museum desk, answering questions, helping us remember what’s easily forgotten.
Such basic human needs to…
leave the Explorer’s Lounge.
I hope they’re still singing, dancing, recruiting more tenors and basses.
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