Royal News

The Prince of Wales marks 80th anniversary of St Valery – the ‘forgotten Dunkirk’

The Prince of Wales stepped outside of Birkhall on Friday morning to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the ‘forgotten Dunkirk’ where World War Two soldiers were caught up and killed in St Valery in France – a battle that is often not remembered when the Second World War is thought about.

The Duke of Rothesay, as Charles is known in Scotland, honoured the mostly Scottish soldiers from the 51st Highland Division who were captured at St Valery-en-Caux in France on 12th June 1940. Charles took the salute as a piper played outside his Birkhall residence in Scotland.

Prince Charles commented, “On 12th June 1940, after a gallant stand, the 51st Highland Division with supporting arms and services, including elements from English regiments, was forced to surrender to the German army at St Valery-en-Caux on the Normandy coast of France. 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 Valery, in honour of the fallen and to remember a battle in which those of the division the greatest courage of tenacity. We remember all who served and who sacrificed so much.”

Piper to The Queen, Pipe Major Richard Grisdale, played a tribute at Windsor Castle. Both pipers played Heroes of St Valery, composed by Donald Maclean, who was captured at St Valery and spent four years as a prisoner of war.

Graeme Day, Scotland’s Veterans Minister, 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.”

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