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Caithness At War - From The Highland Archive

29th January 2013

Photograph of Caithness At War - From The Highland Archive

A great series being published regularly at the moment at the Highland Archive web site.

Week 22: 29 January-4 February 1940
29 January 1940
On 1 February the Winter War entered its final phase when Russian forces launched a major offensive against the Finnish forces defending the Karelian Isthmus, putting them under severe pressure.

On Wednesday this week came probably the saddest scene in the history of the town of Wick, with the mass burial of the bodies of 15 seamen washed ashore after the sinking of HMS Exmouth with the loss of all hands on 21 January. Hundreds of people watched the departure to the cemetery, and along the streets there were many more people, and in all the groups women could be seen openly weeping. The sailors were accorded full military honours, and the event was commemorated by a plaque in the church.

Scotland meanwhile was still in the grip of unusually cold weather, and Caithness experienced its heaviest fall of snow since 1918. Although the railways kept running, roads were blocked as temperatures dropped to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Wick river was frozen, allowing people to skate on it for the first time in years, and skiers took to Newton Hill. As the John OGroat Journal noted, There were days of bright sunshine and the beauty of the countryside was something rarely to be seen.

See the full article with nerwspaper clippings at -

PHOTO photo of the Exmouth war graves as they are today. Each year on remembrance sunday wreaths are places there by the people in Wick.


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