CC BY-SA, Jim Bain, Arisaig House, Borrodale
During World War II, Arisaig House was requisitioned for use by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), and became a Commando finishing school for around 3000 men and women, providing the final stage of their training to serve in occupied Europe. Maintaining a rigorous security was critical: with only one access road, the area was easy to seal off as a Special Protected Area and even locals were required to have a pass to go in and out of the protected area.
Violet Szabo whose short life was the subject of a film and many books, was one of the brave agents who trained in Arisaig House. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross aftet her death following her capture during a mission in France. Many Czech nationals also trained there in the use of explosives, silent killing methods and railway sabotage before being parachuted behind enemy lines. In 2009, a war monument of polished granite in the shape of a parachute made by Czech artist Josef Vajce was erected in Arisaig to the memory of the Czech and Slovak soldiers who trained there between 1941 and 1943.
There is a small exhibition about the SOEs in the Arisaig Land Sea and Islands Centre and a larger on in Fort William’s West Highland Museum.
More information on visiting the area can be found here.