We’re partnering with fringereview.co.uk to post a series of guest blogs leading up to this year’s festival, giving further insight into the venue and our programme.
Here’s blog eight.
Appeal to Find Scots Who Crossed the Rhine with Bomb Happy WWII Veteran
When Ken Cooke and Ken Smith visited us for the opening of Army@TheFringe we wanted to ask if they had any Scottish connections.
It turned out they did. Ken Smith, now 94, had trained on Scottish lochs before heading off to his date with history.
And Ken Cooke, 93, had been sent to Stracathro Hospital after being wounded a few weeks after being part of the second wave to arrive on Gold Beach.
After that, however, he returned to the front line and linked up with the Highland Light Infantry for the crossing of the Rhine – another seminal moment in the liberation of Europe.
He recalls the event very clearly: “We were all dug in and ready and then the artillery started – firing against the German side of the river. I’d never heard noise like it. It was simply incredible.”
After landing on the other bank they pushed into enemy territory, ending up in an abandoned trench. There were parachutes around the place, some hanging from trees.
He said: “So that’s how we spent the night. We gathered them in and slept in the trench wrapped in parachutes.”
We are now appealing to see if there are any veteran Scottish soldiers out there who made the crossing alongside Ken – and would love them to be our guests at the play.
During their visit the veterans were photographed on the set of another Army@TheFringe show Unicorns, Almost by Owen Sheers which tells the story of the World War II poet Keith Douglas (pictured below) who was killed shortly after D-Day.
They also had the chance to chat to operational head of the Army in Scotland Brigadier Robin Lindsay who personally thanked them for all they had done and said he looked forward to welcoming them back later in August, when they plan to attend performances of the play.
For details of both productions visit our website here.
And to get in touch with details of any veterans please email Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Org or call 07786 704299.