The 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade
(1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa)
Finding The Lost
How A Dead Artists Drawing Gave Me A Clue
Sorry for the clickbait title! - Like everyone, I believed the parachute tower to be at Largo House and so I went around Largo House grounds looking for evidence of it.
Coming home empty-handed and despondent I made it my mission to nail it's location, here is the story of how with help from a friend I located it ...
A Clue - A Tower - But Where?
There are only around 5 pictures on the internet of the parachute tower. All of them mention "Largo House". None of them have any landmarks in the background making identification of the site impossible.
Then I came across this dead artists sketch:
I know artists take artistic interpretations on things, so was sceptical of the tower in the background, believing (wrongly) that the parachute tower was in the grounds of Largo House and that the artist had just added artistic licence to the picture by including a historic tower.
Can you guess what I did next?
It Pays To Pay Attention When Driving!
I live just a few miles away from Largo House and have done so for around 40 years. The roads around Largo House are fairly familiar to me as are landmarks, yet, this tower in the above picture, I just could not place it.
Postcard Clues Led Me To The Parachute Tower
So good old Google came to the rescue. I think I typed in something like "Historic tower Largo". A minutes browsing of Google images and I located the picture below.
Bingo! The un-identified historic tower was apparently "Lundie Tower" (Lundin Tower). Another quick google and I had its approximate address: Pilmuir Road, Lundin Links, Fife, Scotland.
Now, this address is around 3 miles away from Largo House, so all descriptions of the parachute tower being at Largo House were definitely wrong!
Do you know how many times I drove past Lundie Tower and never even noticed its existence? If I had, then finding the parachute tower would have happened a lot quicker. A well, lesson learned, be more observant of scenery when driving!
The First 2 (Failed) Trips To Lundie Tower
I rationalised that the parachute tower must have had a very substantial concrete foundation. This foundation could not be easily destroyed so I rationalised that it still had to exists.
My first 2 trips to the field beside Lundie tower did not yield any answers, I walked around but achieved little in trying to find it. I'm not sure what I was expecting but the 100ft high tower was long gone!
Obsession Is The Key!
This is where I think I took leave of my senses trying to trace that parachute tower! Total obsession overwhelmed me, I HAD to find that parachute tower base location after all that was where MY GRANDAD trained.
To find the tower and visit the tower site, in some strange sense, would be to get closer to the grandfather that I barely knew..
3 Seconds Of A Video Is All It Took...
By the time my 3rd trip came up I had studied every possible photo I could find of the tower but there were almost no clues in these photos. Treelines change, even landscapes change so I was really struggling.
A colleague and I spent 50 hours and exchanged around 1000 messages trying to pinpoint the exact geo-location of the parachute tower.
She came across this video that has 3 glorious seconds of footage of the tower. With this new info we finally knew the towers location to within 2 meters. Hurrah!
When we found this little church (seats about 12!) at Lundin Tower, we knew we had the perfect reference point. We now know the cranes arm point out towards the church and can accurately guess the length of the crane arm based on where the parachuters landed.
What an EXCITING moment it was when we matched up the original picture to the still standing church! Incidentally this church then became a dovecot for birds and currently is roofless and abandoned..
Note how the line of the hill has gotten higher and changed. I suppose with thousands of ploughings of the field, the landscape must change somewhat.
Now I drive a BMW 640 that has a record 0-60 ability and I tested it to the max as I raced on over to Lundie Tower to checkout my new perspective on where the tower was located. Excitement was coursing through me (sad but true!).
Excitement About Overgrown Concrete In A Field
I couldn't make this title less interesting! And yet, if history interest you, if standing exactly where your ancestors stood 75 years ago excites you, then this is adrenaline overload!
This....THIS...is what all the excitement and fuss is about. This is THE base of the parachute tower where 7000 Polish soldiers learned to parachute. Some of them even went to Arnheim.
But THIS is where they trained. THIS is where MY GRANDFATHER trained and to me, this means the world, this is history, this is where it all began.
And as you look at this photo, you ask "How did he miss it the first 2 times, it stands out like a sore thumb!" All I can say is that "I should have gone to Specsavers!" which if you are not from the UK means I should have gone to the optician!
History Never Interested Me At School...And Yet, When History Touches Your Ancestry, Something Magical Happens. My Magic Started The Day I Found Lundie Tower.