Down memory lane

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One of Midlothian’s best kept secrets is finally out of the bag.

The story of Sir James Stagg, a former Dalkeith High pupil who persuaded General Eisenhower to change the date of the Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe during the Second World War, has been gripping theatre audiences in the capital.

Currently showing at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, Pressure tells how the weather forecast by Stagg, the son of a Dalkeith plumber, changed the course of the war, and our lives, forever.

The play is written by well-loved stage and television actor David Haig, who also stars. Haig is best known as a comic actor, for his roles in TV shows such as The Thin Blue Line and The Thick of It, and as Bernard, the moustachioed groom who causes Hugh Grant an embarrassing moment in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

A leading civilian meteorology expert, Stagg was appointed to the Operation Overlord planning team in 1943. Weather played a vital role in the planning and execution of the Normandy landings, and those responsible had to consider a number of factors such as weather conditions, the phases of the moon and tide patterns, when assigning a date for Overlord.

Requiring the best combination of these factors, D-Day was restricted to two sets of possible dates: June 5-7 or June 18-20, 1944.

Although D-Day was originally set for June 5, Stagg predicted on June 4 that weather conditions would deteriorate.

For the full feature see this week’s Advertiser. On sale now.