A WESTER Ross family heirloom is providing vital information about a key part of World War II history.
The MacIver family have inherited their father George’s meticulously handwritten sales ledger, which covers the sales of food to the Merchant Navy ships on Loch Ewe from the family shop in Aultbea, from September 1942 to October 1943.
They have now donated the ledger to the Russian Arctic Convoy Museum project, which is planning a museum in Aultbea as a lasting legacy to all those that took in the nightmare Arctic convoys during the war.
The significance of the ledger came to light when Annabelle MacKenzie, formerly MacIver, from Inverness, contacted the museum group when she saw a Remembrance Day television news item about the Arctic convoys which was filmed at Aultbea last November.
It quickly became apparent that her father’s book was extremely important, giving a carefully and accurately written listing of every one of the ships that were anchored in Loch Ewe, either before or after their gruelling convoy trips to Russia.
As the area was top secret during the war, very little is known of the ships’ movements and so the ledger gives a rare insight into what was happening on Loch Ewe during parts of 1942-43.
Annabelle told the North Star: “We are so thrilled that this sales ledger from our dad’s shop in Aultbea is proving to be such an important reference book for the museum project.
“We never thought it would be so significant. Our family are very happy to hear of the plans to develop a museum in Aultbea to commemorate the part the area played in World War II.”
She added: “Our father ran the grocer’s shop at the bottom of Tighnafiline, which is still there.
“As well as serving local folk from a wide area, he supplied the merchant ships during the Arctic convoys.
“We heard many stories from our parents of how our sleepy little village was completely transformed to a vibrant and very busy area during the war.
“World War II had an enormous effect on the area and provided work for locals for a number of years. Our mum Ena worked in the Post Office in Gairloch and told us of how the little post office was overwhelmed with telegrams coming back and forth from the military.
“We are especially pleased also to hear of the families reunion which is planned for May 10 at Aultbea Hotel, during World War II Week and the Arctic Convoys Week that the museum group is organising.
“We have lost touch with many of the folks we knew in Aultbea since our family moved to Inverness in 1959.”
Several of Annabelle’s five siblings – Wilma, Gina, Muriel and John (Tonto) – hope to go to the reunion and look forward to meeting everyone and sharing their memories of bygone days.
They still have relatives living in the Gairloch area and see them from time to time.
Annabelle added: ‘We are so pleased to be able to donate our family heirloom to the future Russian Arctic Convoy Museum – a very appropriate place to keep the ledger for future generations to view, back in its home village of Aultbea.”
For further information about the Museum Project and the WWII event, visit www.russianarcticconvoymuseum.co.uk