Christmas Past: Home

Christmas is a time when family and friends come together. For Orkney this may involve travelling south or islanders returning.

The journey, as it can be today, might be a long one and suffer delays mostly due to the weather.

In 1948 the parish of Holm announced in local paper ‘The Orkney Herald and Advertiser’ that visiting Orkney to be ‘spending Christmas with their ain folk’ were Miss Muriel Manson, Maple Cottage; Miss Isobel Hourston, Millfield and Mr Abbie Sutherland, Lyking. The war was over and people were now able to travel around more freely. It must have been wonderful to be able to return to Orkney and see family and friends once more.

Wartime travel was different. People were engaged at every level in war work, rationing meant food and clothes had to be carefully used, travel was for essential personnel and bombs were being dropped on homes.

For those who could not go home, serving personnel during wartime and based in Orkney, Christmas could be lonely. Events were put on for the forces to keep up morale.

At the Royal Dockyard, Lyness, Hoy, parties were held. ‘There was dancing to the music of locally based military bands and some very talented artistes occupied the intervals with much appreciated musical and vocal offerings.’ Orkney Herald, 02/01/1945.

Home By Christmas

“That’s what they said during the war. In the Middle East, in Burma, in P.W. camps everywhere: “Home by Christmas”. With unquenchable optimism the phrase popped up even in the darkest days. Why Christmas? Because Christmas is the Home Festival. It stands for good things of home, for the glow of intimacy, understanding and unspoken affection.” Rev Read. Greenbank Parish Church Edinburgh

Orkney Herald and Advertiser 24/12/1946
© IWM (Art.IWM PST 16433)

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