Isles Cadets Remember St Valery

Laying a wreath at the 2015 Parade.
Laying a wreath at the 2015 Parade.

Army Cadets from Western Isles Company, 1st Battalion The Highlanders will be holding their annual St Valery & Dunkirk Memorial Parade this week.

The parade, taking place at Griminish War Memorial on Benbecula, is to remember the men from the 51st Highland Division, who despite overwhelming odds, held back the German advance on Dunkirk long enough to allow those on the beaches to escape back to Britain.

As British forces were withdrawing from France, the 51st Highland Division were place under French command.

The bulk of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) had already been evacuated from Dunkirk, but the Germans launched a, outflanking the Allies and trapping the Division and elements of the French, who withdrew to the coastal town of St Valéry-en-Caux.

More than 10,000 members of the 51st were taken prisoner at St Valery and were marched to Germany, following the route over which the Germans had advanced against them. Their destination was Stalag XX-A at Toruń.

It wasn’t the end of the 51st Highland Division - the division was reconstituted from the 9th Highland Infantry Division forming the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division.

This year marks the 77th anniversary of St Valery and the 17th anniversary of the Army Cadet Parade at the Griminish Memorial.

When the numbers of the St Valery veterans began to significantly dwindle the Western Isles cadets decided that the memory of the many islanders who had lost their lives at St Valery and Dunkirk should continue to be commemorated and organised their first Parade.

This year’s parade will take place on Thursday 15th June at 2000 hours at the memorial, where members of the public are invited to attend.