The History of Leith

October 3, 2004

It happened in Leith

It so happens I had personal experience of seeing and speaking to some of these Repatriated British POW`s, they were part of an exchange UK/German scheme organised by the Red Cross, two Swedish passenger/hospital ships, one of which was the s.s. Kungsholm, the other, s.s. Gripsholm, brought the contingent into the Firth of Forth, anchored in Leith Roads, Tenders brought the men, bandaged or on crutches,into Leith and entrained them at the West Pier, close to the now defunct Henry Robb Shipyard, for dispersal in other parts of UK.

My fortuitous meeting, purely by accident, occurred quite close to my home, on a side stretch of railway line near Newhaven station, long since closed, at that time it conveyed traffic from Leith Docks to Edinburgh Princess Street, Caledonian Station and beyond: Passing over a bridge in Craighall Road a garage owner called me over to indicate the long train of coaches, all with Red Crosses boldly painted on sides and roof, what little I remember of the exchanged greetings with those in earshot were of happy smiling faces, and asking where they were, security was very real and harsh in those days, within a short time the train pulled away, the passengers therein no doubt eagerly waiting to meet up with their families.

A somewhat fleeting glimpse of history in the making, not a lot but I am happy to pass same along.

WLH…2004

(Short article by WLH suggested by michael coughlan from his comment on this site “I suggest you should have something on the return of the repatriated POWs in October 1943, mostly heroes from the defence of Dunkirk and fliers. ” Indeed they were heroes and to whom this nation owes a great debt for protecting the freedoms we now enjoy. We must never forget. JSA)

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