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Remember 51st Highland Division at St Valéry-en-Caux
There was a revealing comment from a Dunkirk veteran yesterday. Could we
have done more? What about the ones we left behind? While we remember the
miracle of Dunkirk and the heroism of the "little boats" we should not
forget that it was not only Goering's boast that his Luftwaffe could
the British Army at Dunkirk that held back the German land forces: Not all
the British Expeditionary Force were due to be evacuated. 51st Highland
Division (Seaforth Highlanders, Cameron Highlanders, Gordon Highlanders and
the Black Watch) fought on while the main force was evacuated until
completely surrounded and overwhelmed by Rommel at St Valéry-en-Caux on
June 1940. Some 8,000 were taken prisoner.
Their valour is recalled in the pipe tune "The Heroes of St Valery" and
better in the Scottish Dance "The Reel of the 51st" in which the dancers
recreate the Saltire, the badge of the 51st Division. The dance was
by the officers of 51st Highland in their prison camp at Laufen during the
long dark days of captivity following 1940.
As at Athelstaneford in 832 AD, and Roslin in 1303 the Saltire was an
inspiration against apparently overwhelming odds.
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