Campaign to remember Dalkeith D-Day hero

Thursday August 16th 2018

James-M-Stagg-Dalkeith

A campaign has been started to raise funds to commemorate Dalkeith D-Day hero James M Stagg.

James Martin Stagg CB OBE FRSE is Dalkeith’s unsung hero, his contribution towards the allied war effort was of such magnitude that his efforts, expertise and determination could be considered key factors in bringing an end to World War 2 and saving the lives of some 70,000 individuals.

Despite this, the story of Group Captain James Stagg remains relatively unknown in Dalkeith so to commemorate his life and achievements Sharon Mackintosh is raising funds for a plaque to be positioned in his honour on the building where his house once stood in Dalkeith High Street.

The following is a brief summary of the life of this remarkable man.

In a long and distinguished career, James Martin Stagg (30 June 1900–23 June 1975) was, amongst other achievements, the Chief Meteorological Adviser to Allied Forces, Europe, 1943-45. Stagg played a key role in predicting the weather conditions for the D-Day landings in early June 1944. It was largely thanks to Stagg’s work and intuition that the landings were postponed for 24 hours because of a severe storm. This was a critical and extremely difficult decision, and without it the landings would have been much more difficult and may not have been successful. This in turn means that the course of the Second World War would have been entirely different.

James Stagg was born on 30 June 1900, the eldest son of plumber Alexander Cairns Stagg and Helen Martin. The 1901 census shows that the family were living at 6 Esk Place, Dalkeith but in the early 1900s they moved to rented accommodation at 153 High Street, Dalkeith where they lived for the next twenty years. The property at 153 High Street was demolished and as a result of the High Street being renumbered, number 169 High Street is now where Stagg’s family home stood.

Educated at the old Dalkeith High School, Stagg won certificates for perfect attendance in 1907, 1908 and 1911. In 1914-15 at the end of his third Higher Grade year (age 15), he was Dux of the school. At this time Dalkeith High School did not provide education beyond the age of 15 so Stagg had to complete his schooling at Broughton Junior Student Centre in Edinburgh. In July 1917, he won a bursary to attend Edinburgh University. He graduated with first class honours in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy (Physics) in July 1920. The following years he graduated with a Diploma in Education. He was science master at George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh between 1921 and 1923, and then took up a post with the Meteorological Office.

In 1932, he was leader of the British Polar Expedition to Arctic Canada, reports of which appeared in the Dalkeith Advertiser.

Stagg died on 23 June 1975 at his home in Seaford, East Sussex, his body was cremated and his remains were later interred at the family lair (T100) in Dalkeith New Cemetery.

Sharon Mackintosh is Dalkeith born and bred and was only made aware of James Stagg when her late father mentioned that he’d like to go and see the play “Pressure – about the man from Dalkeith whose weather predictions changed the course of WW2”.

Up until that point she had never heard of him and couldn’t believe that there is no mention of James Stagg in the town. Sharon said:

“I am extremely proud of the fact that Dalkeith can lay claim to such a historically important figure and since then have endeavoured to have him commemorated. Sadly with financial constraints local government funding isn’t readily available so I’ve decided to try and raise the money myself by way of Just Giving. I have formed a small committee with Rodd Lugg (Heritage Project Manager, MDC), John Jack – Dalkeith Museum Advisory Group Chairman, Norman Brett/Alan Mason – Chair/Vice Chair from the Dalkeith History Society and Councillor Colin Cassidy.”

The campaign needs £1,078 to for a commemorative plaque so if you would like to contribute then click here.

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