At the start of the new Ross-shire Welfare season, I wrote a blog entry about “The Eastern Rose” – a war time team comprised of local footballers and Polish servicemen. Although, at the time of writing, it wasn’t distinctly clear where the Poles would have been based. I wrote the following, using the limited information I could find at the time:
Polish artillery battalions and anti-tank regiments had been stationed in Ross and Cromarty throughout the war, and in 1945 in particular, with several noted to have stayed at Mansfield House in Tain.
Thanks to the exhaustive research of Margaret Urquhart of Tain & District Museum and the memories of her husband Forbie, I now have some additional information to share on exactly where the Polish forces were based. Forbie recalls that around 60,000 Polish troops were based in the North of Scotland, as far east as Nairn and as far north as Tain. There were a lot of them based in Tain. Some, those who were staying in the Mansfield Hotel (then Mansfield House) were Commissioned Officers and NCOs. The rest, we now know, were stationed in camps at Newfield, near Nigg. This would explain the reason for the first Eastern Rose get-together at Newfield, and puts to bed my earlier suggestion that the team first played there purely because the Links was not in a fit state. I had previously written:
The Town Council were no further forward with the repair of the Links, and as a result, all football activities were taking place elsewhere. Thus, this September match, which was to be the first reported post-war game of association football in Tain and its surrounding area, eventually took place at Newfield, Nigg.
It now appears more likely that the game was played at Newfield simply because the majority of the team’s players were living there.
That is not to say that their activities were kept to Nigg. It would appear that The Eastern Rose’s first game was something of a novelty anyway, and that the “field” used at Newfield was unlikely to have been a permanent home for a football team. We also know from newspaper reports that The Eastern Rose went on to play at the Links on a number of occasions during their eight month existence. orbie also recalls seeing the Polish forces going on route marches, coming back from the north in 3 files through the town, singing a Polish marching song (pictured below). They also ran dances in the Drill hall and had their own band.