Below is the letter sent to The Scots at War Trust. Please forgive spelling or grammatical errors, I’m not exactly what you may consider educated. Observation of history, suggests some within the scientific community are shunned for sharing information. I would hope that there has not been any ill will towards the good Doctor. She simply answered the questions of a boy.
My name is Frank Churchill, and I write to you because I have been researching the great wars for the last year or so. Although my work is in its infancy, I find I do have fascination with the Faroe Islands and the efforts of British occupation to pre-empt a German invasion. I have read many stories about the men that occupied the islands. From the Royal Marines, to the Lovat Scouts, and the Great Cameronians, but most of the stories have been about the battles after their departure.
I must confess my interests are not within the battles themselves, but in the preparation of the soldiers before they ventured south into Europe. I’m not old enough, or knowledgeable enough, to understand how any soldier could prepare for such a task. Although I do believe to grasp even a scent of history one must look at all points of view.
I have 5 questions that I wonder if you might be able to answer. If not, would it be possible to guide me in the right direction to find the answers to them.
1. Housing – Were bunkers provided or did the troops stay with the locals in their homes?
2. Food – What did the troops eat? I understand that the people of the Island live mainly off the sea. Was food imported for the troops?
3. Training – What exercises were carried out during their stay?
4. Gas – Did they prepare for gas attacks and if so how? I’ve seen photos of men huddled in a bunkers going through gas drills in order to prepare for the frontline. Was this a common practice on the Faroe Islands?
5. Night Life – I understand many marriages blossomed during their stay, was there a nightlife on the island?
If any of these questions are of a sensitive nature then forgive me, it is not my intent to disrupt or open old wounds. I’m merely trying to have an understanding of troop life in the Faroe Islands.
Frank A Churchill
Diana Henderson email@example.com to me 11/12/08
Thank you for your message.
The book that you would find useful is the Northern Isles at War – The North Atlantic Front by James Miller published by Birlinn and the Regimental Museum that you should contact is the Queens’ Own Highlanders at Fort George Inverness.
The Lovat Scouts TA 450 strong arrived in the Faroes on 25th May 1940. There were no bunkers although there was an old fort at Skansin. The men were billeted in schools, empty houses and public buildings and later in Nissen Huts.
Rations were brought in but they also used local produce primarily fish.
The troops here were at war and carried out Garrison duties. “Exercises” as such were few as this was the real thing. There were for example several German air attacks. If you want details of their day to day activities you will need to find the Battalion War Diary in the national Archives at Kew in London.
Every body carried their gas respirator and drills would have been practiced. This could have been done in a hut, tent, old building etc.
The Faroes were a thriving community, the troops had good relations with the locals and various events, dances etc were held.
I hope that this is helpful.
Dr D M Henderson
The Scots at War Trust
Scottish Charity SC023305