Prince Charles

Prince Charles Joins Tributes To Soldiers From 'Forgotten Dunkirk'

The battle at St Valery-en-Caux in Normandy led to the capture of 10,000 soldiers mainly from the 51st Highland Division.

Prince Charles has joined commemorations paying tribute to thousands of Scots who were killed or captured during what some say is 'the forgotten Dunkirk' 80 years ago.

The Second World War battle on 12 June 1940 led to 10,000 mainly Scottish soldiers from the 51st Highland Division being captured at St Valery-en-Caux, in France.

They continued the fight on the continent in support of the French after the Dunkirk evacuations had been completed, and a flotilla of ships sent to rescue the troops was unable to reach them due to fog and the proximity of German artillery above the town.

The commemorations were led by pipers playing a tribute in what was thought to be a record for the greatest number playing simultaneously.

More than 500 pipers from around the world played the pipers’ march 'Heroes Of St Valery' in memory of those caught up in the conflict.

Prince Charles, known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, took the salute from a piper at his Scottish home of Birkhall.

In a message of support, he said: “At 10am this morning, on this year’s 80th anniversary, pipers throughout Scotland and further afield were on their doorsteps playing the celebrated march, the Heroes of St Valéry, in honour of the fallen and to remember a battle in which those of the Division displayed the greatest courage and tenacity. 

“We remember all who served and who sacrificed so much.”

(Picture: Mark Owens/PoppyScotland).

‘Heroes of St Valley’ was composed by Donald MacLean, who was captured at St Valery in June 1940 and spent four years as a prisoner of war.

Three Scottish Armed Forces charities – Legion Scotland, Poppyscotland and Royal Caledonian Education Trust: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity (RCET) – joined forces to organise the tribute.

Scotland's Veterans Minister Graeme Dey said: "There is barely a town or village in the Highlands that was unaffected by the events at St Valery in June 1940, yet many people today don’t know of the incredible bravery shown by the soldiers of the 51st Highland Division.

"Eighty years on from such a significant date in Scotland’s history, it is vitally important that the heroic stance the 51st Division took that day is remembered, not only today but in the years to come."

Today's events included a live broadcast featuring pipers performing around the world and a virtual classroom lesson for schoolchildren.

An online screening of the play 'The Beaches of St Valery' also happened with a further tribute concert due this evening.

Cover image: Prince Charles, taking the salute from a piper at his Scottish home of Birkhall (Picture: Mark Owens/ Poppyscotland).