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 Robert Burns

 

 

 

 

 

Earlsferry and Elie Beach

 

Many have wondered how, during World War II, aircraft could safely take-off and land from hastily constructed grass field landing strips without the aircraft sinking into the ground and cart wheeling to destruction.   What made these instant airfields possible was the laying over the grass of a covering of heavy steel, 3 inch square, wire mesh that the grass grew up through. At the end of World War II, to return the fields to their use for agriculture, this wire mesh was removed and sold for scrap. But not all of it was melted down. General contractors were quick to see how their heavy lorries and vehicles could now operate from soft ground and unimproved roads if wire mesh were to be laid down like a carpet and much of the surplus mesh was purchased for this purpose.

 

 The Sands of Time

 

 

One of Earlsferry and Elie's wonderful assets is the beautiful golden sand beach which is recognized as being one of Scotland's finest. However when the winds of winter blow, the sand can pile up in unwanted places to the extant that for some it becomes a minor problem. Some years the wind blows the sand from the Earlsferry end of the beach to the Elie end. Other years prevailing winds blow the sand and deposit it in the opposite direction. Some years the action of the winter winds and the waves sucked the sand out to sea to the extent that in my memory the level of the entire beach was lowered such that the waves of high tides caused erosion at beach front properties and sea weed tangles were deposited up in the lanes that lead to the beach. At other times the opposite occurred and sand piled up high up to the extent that it encroached over the protective sea walls of the gardens of the beach front  houses.

 

Beach photos by Sandy Moncrieff

 

After World War II, men with horses and carts with balloon size tired wheels came and hauled away tons of sand from the beach which they used for agricultural purposes and for several years this happened. Also there were others from out of the area who came and laid down war surplus airfield runway steel mesh and drove their heavy lorries on to the beach and without asking or getting permission from the titled owners of the beach, hauled away great amounts of sand for their building and construction projects. (I informed the haulers  that this was not all right and to the best of my knowledge they never came back.)

 

With such a lot of sand it would seem that some sand being hauled away will not make a difference but one only has to look at the rocky shores and the rocky beach fronts of other seaside villages to see that this is not the case. 

 

Hauling away of any of the sand from the beach instead of pushing it lower down on to the tidal beach is akin to squandering Earlsferry and Elie's bounty.

 

Shifting Sand--at my beach hut site.