Rationing, berry-stain lipstick and hand-drawn ‘nylons’ return to Wester Ross in week to honour WWII and Arctic Convoy veterans

loch ewe

Wester Ross is gearing up – in true fashion – for its annual WWII and Arctic Convoys Week (6-11 May)  – as you can see from the girls at Aultbea Stores above. Michelle Smith (right) and her team of Sharon Longley (left)  and Caroline Sutherland are getting ready with Ration Books and all sorts of wartime memories.

So a shortage of chocolate then? Oh dear.

The local shop, on the front at Aultbea, was one of the original shops serving HMS Helicon during the time of the Arctic Convoys. Its current owners, Michelle and Yvonne, are super keen to keep up the tradition of a real service to the community.

Michelle says:  ‘In 1940, the sugar ration was 12oz per person per week [Ed: Hey – today that’s huge], butter 4oz, tea, margarine and cooking fat were rationed to 2ozs per week. Its amazing how people managed on these rations – but they did.

‘We have prepared ration books to show visitors during WWII Week just how it used to be. The shop will be decorated with all sorts of wartime memorabilia, including posters depicting ‘Comrades in Arms.

‘Of course, food will be in plentiful supply here at Aultbea Stores during WWII Week, unlike the 1940’s. The whole community is really getting into the swing of the week’s programem of events  – and we’re looking forward to the 1940’s Ceilidh dance on Monday evening at Aultbea Village Hall.

‘We’ll be able to walk straight from work in these 1940’s clothes and right into the Wartime Ceilidh – without needing to change.’ [Ed: We bet they draw lines up the backs of their legs to look as if they’re wearing the seamed stockings – ‘nylons’  – as girls back then did for want of the real thing.]

WWII Week includes walks, talks, film nights – and a Veterans Reunion.

Over 40 of the Arctic Convoy Veterans are coming to Loch Ewe specially for the occasion – and will  be presented there, whee so much of it began, with their long awaited Arctic Star medal at a ceremony on the 9th May.

All of this – a strange and important sort of homecoming – will be deeply moving for everyone. A quite unique occasion with a belated honour finally awarded in a most appropriate place.

There are also nine exhibitions in locations around the area during WWII Week which runs from 6th-11th May.

For further information:

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