Sea Fest plans to rekindle wartime memories

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FOLLOWING Arbroath’s highly-successful Spitfire Parade last month, Arbroath Sea Fest committee is confident the Second World War theme that will run through this year’s event will prove to be a crowd puller.

“The commemorations of Arbroath’s wartime fund-raising efforts to buy a Spitfire has certainly struck a chord with local people,” said committee member Lynn Cameron. “This year’s Sea Fest, which is on August 4 and 5, will provide further opportunities to celebrate Arbroath’s inspiring community spirit, which, judging by the enthusiasm local people have for Sea Fest and many of the other events and fund-raisers that take place in the town, is as strong today as it was in the 1940s.”

One of Sea Fest’s wartime attractions will be Arbroath Abbey Timethemes’ MOD field canteen. “Teas and coffees will be in tin mugs, with Spitfire-shaped, home-made biscuits on tin plates and Vera Lynn singing on the radio,” said Bill Smith of Timethemes. “And, thanks to funding from Angus Council, those on duty will be in Second World War uniforms.”

Bill added that the canteen will also be a mini-museum of wartime artefacts, including a four-foot replica of Arbroath’s Spitfire, Red Lichtie. “We’re keen to display items that provide an insight into life in Arbroath during the Second World War,” said Bill. “Gas masks, wash boards, clothing, ration books, photographs, etc. Anyone who would like to lend wartime memorabilia to Arbroath Abbey Timethemes for the Sea Fest weekend, can email me at seacat78@hotmail.co.uk .”

A display by Strathmore Vintage Vehicle Club of 1940s vehicles will further add to the wartime atmosphere, especially the Women’s Volunteer Service’s Queen Elizabeth Canteen. “Whenever there was an emergency, this vehicle provided tea, coffee and soup to everyone involved and would have been a regular sight around Angus during the Second World War,” said Lesley Munro of Strathmore Vintage Vehicle Club.

The club will share a stand with Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, who hope to take along their RAF staff car. The curator of this award-winning museum, Dr Daniel Paton, explained that Montrose Air Station has revived the wartime tradition of fund-raising for a Spitfire and hopes to raise enough to buy a replica Spitfire to mark the air base’s 2013 centenary.

He continued: “As well as wartime artefacts, we’ll be displaying information about wartime Spitfire funds, including material on ‘Red Lichtie’, and about Squadron Leader George Keith, an Arbroath man with a remarkable war record.” He added that there will also be flying clothing for younger Sea Fest visitors to try on. “In addition, we’re bringing along our portable wartime siren which children always enjoy winding up, especially when they hear the resulting wail,” he concluded.

Harry Simpson, chair of the Red Lichtie Group, welcomed the news of Sea Fest’s Second World War theme. “With about 25,000 people expected to attend Sea Fest, this will help to highlight our commemorations of Arbroath’s Spitfire considerably,” said Harry.

For more information about Arbroath Sea Fest 2012, which is supported by Angus Council Community Grant Scheme, visit www.arbroathseafest.co.uk

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