The Duke of Rothesay has led commemoratios for Scottish soldiers on the 80th anniversary of the Battle for St. Valery. Prince Charles was joined by a lone piper at Birkhall as musicians around the world took part in the tribute.
On June 12th 1940, the 51st Highland Division was forced to capitulate to Nazi forces as they battled to hold on to St. Valery in northern France. Many died and thousands more soldiers were captured and ended up as prisoners-of-war. Exactly eighty years on, bagpipers stood on doorsteps in Scotland and in countries across the globe to play the march ‘Heroes of St. Valery’, in commemoration.
Prince Charles, who is always known as the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland, stood on the doorstep of his home at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate while a lone piper played. The royal musician is though to be one of at least 450 around the world who made the tribute at exactly 10am.
Ahead of the commemoration, the Prince said ”On June 12 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 Valéry-en-Caux on the Normandy coast of France….I warmly encourage all pipers, whether skilled or learning, to take part in this moving tribute to one of the United Kingdom’s most legendary fighting formations. We remember all who served and who sacrificed so much.”
The special tribute was organised by three charities supporting the Scottish Armed Forces. Legion Scotland, Poppy Scotland and RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity have put together a series of events to mark the 80th anniversary. Other events planned for June 12th 2020 include a special online panel debate involving historian Dr. Stuart Hepburn and a virtual concert including specially recorded music by Runrig.
In a special broadcast covering the commemorations and shared by Legion Scotland, Scottish and French flags were carried to the memorial stone at St. Valery where the area’s new mayor, Jean-Francois Ouvry, paid his own tribute. Just before the pipers began their lament, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr. Martin Fair, shared a reflection before the march was played.