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Tributes paid to Heroes of St Valery

Pipe Major of Perth and District Pipe Band Alistair Duthie paid tribute to the thousands of Scots killed or captured during "the forgotten Dunkirk" at St Valery-en-Caux in France 80- years ago today. This included many hundreds of men from Perth and Perthshire.

Thousands of British troops remained on continental Europe under French command after the Dunkirk evacuations. This bravery was instrumental in Charles de Gaulle continuing the fight and creating the Free French Forces, having fought beside them.

Largely comprised of men from the 51st Highland Division, they fought for 10 days against overwhelming odds before being surrounded at St Valery.  

A combination of fog and the proximity of German artillery above the town prevented the awaiting flotilla of ships from reaching shore and taking the men to safety.

Those who were not killed in the fierce fighting, or fell to their deaths from the cliffs trying to escape, were captured following the surrender at 10am on June 12.

They were marched hundreds of miles to Prisoner of War camps in Eastern Europe, where they endured appalling conditions for five long years

Piper Alistair Duthie visited the memorial to the 51st Highland Division on Perth's North Inch to play the Heroes of St Valery in tribute to those who fell or were captured at the battle.

Provost Dennis Melloy said: "The battle of Saint-Valéry-en-Caux is often called 'the forgotten Dunkirk' but the sacrifices made by the 51st Highland Division are well remembered in Perth and Kinross, and across the north of Scotland, where most of its troops hailed from.

"More than 500 pipers around the world took part in today's commemorations and I am proud Perth and Kinross was able to play its part in honouring the brave men of the 51st, despite the current lockdown."

Today's event was organised by Legion Scotland, Poppyscotland and RCET: Scotland's Armed Forces Children's Charity.

Following defeat at St Valery, The 51st Highlanders were reconstituted from the 9th Highland Infantry Division. In September 1944, returned to St Valery, this time as liberators.