Pipers around the world will, on Saturday, June 12, pay a magnificent tribute to commemorate the 81st anniversary of the Battle of St Valery.
The largely forgotten Second World War battle led to 10,000 mainly Scottish soldiers from the 51st Highland Division being captured as Prisoners of War at the French fishing port of St Valery-en-Caux. Days after the mass-evacuations at Dunkirk, the division remained on mainland Europe supporting their French allies, however, they were soon surrounded by German troops and forced to surrender.
At 10 am Saturday morning, on the 81st anniversary, musicians near and far will perform on their doorsteps and at war memorials playing the evocative march, ‘Heroes of St Valery’, paying tribute to the valiant 51st Highland Division and remembering those that fell and were imprisoned. The piece was composed by Pipe Major Donald MacLean who himself was one of the 10,000 men captured that day and subsequently spent four years in a prisoner of war camp in Poland.
Saturday’s tributes have been developed by three leading Scottish Armed Forces charities: Poppyscotland, Legion Scotland, RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity and British Army’s 51st Brigade.
Speaking of the proceedings, St Valery Committee Chair and Director of Leadership Programmes at the University of Aberdeen, Neil McLennan said: “The events of 12th June 1940 had a profound impact on every town and village in the Highlands, with most families having one or more male relatives enlisted. Continuing to educate and remember the Battle ensures we, as a nation and wider military community, do right by those that fought that day.”
On Saturday (June, 11) morning at 10 am footage from the doorstep tributes can be viewed on the charity’s Facebook pages and the Poppyscotland YouTube channel.
This will be followed by a tribute concert featuring a host of contributors including Runrig and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.