St. Valery en Caux

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Macks, Mar 2, 2004.

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  1. I don't know if anyone can help me with this, but I'm looking for some details about what happened here in 1940.
    Well, I know the basic jist of Operation ARIEL, but I'm thinking more along the lines of:
    Does anyone know where the soldiers of 51st Highland Div were taken? More specifically, does anyone know which PoW Camp the Seaforths were held in?
    Or can anyone point me in the right direction?
    Many thanks for your help in advance!
  2. A large number of the Seaforths ended up in STALAG XX(20)A near the town of Thorn in East Prussia.A large portion of their journey from the combat zone was by river and canal barge,coupled with rail and PCL.
  3. Many thanks for the info Firestarter.
  4. Churchill's Sacrifice of the Highland Division by Saul David gives a good account of what happened although he hints a bit about them being sacrificed because they were Scottish IIRC.
  5. An excellent read, although I disagree as to the Scottishness reasoning. I read it more as the troops that happened to be allocated to the French centre were sacrificed as a political expedient. I'm going to combine a Motorbike tour for the Normandy 70th, then follow up from St Valery following the route march and then meeting some mates in Arnhem. My trip will be easier than theirs.
  6. There is also Bill Innes "St Valéry: The Impossible Odds" a collection of first hand accounts of the capture, forced march and the work camps.
  7. Fang_Farrier

    Fang_Farrier LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    It is a "hint" that is still remembered in various parts of the Highlands, whether it's true or not is another matter.

    And it's not so much that they were sacrificed, it's that more effort would have been made if it had been a Division from further South, perhaps abandoned is more appropriate for the feeling felt.

    But Saul David's book does point out the very political reasons they were kept in France and there were still palns to send over more despite the situation.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. IMHO They just happened to have been on the SAAR at the wrong time and it is as simple as that. It could have easily have been any one of the other divisions that were left behind if they were chosen to go to the SAAR Front instead of 51 Div. I suspect the fact they were the first division to go onto the SAAR as all previous deployments were Brigades didn't help matters as far as conspiracy theories go.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  9. Not to go off topic too much I was reading about 70th anniversary in Normandy on the main forum I go on (WW2 and there is going to be a strict movement ban within the area for all people unless you have applied for the appropriate paperwork before going. The French are putting in checkpoints across the region - It's a big area too! Fortunately I only go to the Dunkirk Anniversaries and they don't have all this kerfuffle ;)
  10. Andrew Bradford wrote a book based on his fathers PoW exploits called Escape from Saint Valery-en-caux. The book is written from his fathers letters home, war diaries and first hand accounts that his father, now sadly departed, had spoken of. Nice chap.

    Another person that might be able to help is David Irvine of Drum. His father was Colonel Charles Francis Irvine MC who was Colonel to the 5/7th Gordons at St Valery. Also in this video David has lots of memrobelia from his father including his diaries.

    I believe most ended up in Oflag VII. The Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen have had several exhibitions on the subject and I am sure they will be able to help as well.
  11. There's loads of information, including POW accounts here:

    As for the 51st being sacrificed. Someone had to fight the rear guard in order for the evacuation to have any chance of success. As has been said, the Highlanders were in the right place at the wrong time. Efforts were made to evacuate then from St. Vallery, but weather and the fact that the Germans had air superiority meant it was a hopeless task. It is difficult to imagine the confusion, lack of comms, planning, logistics etc. at the time.

    You can get some idea from this account:
  12. My great grandad ended up somewhere in Poland after st Valerie (black watch) and after numerous escape attempts finally ended up in dachau, got picked up by the Russians and handed over to the yanks (we still have the receipt for him!) he never talked about it, all we could get were his fantastical stories about escaping and staying in Poland for a few months. No one believed him, but when he died when the family were sorting through his possessions, they found a few photographs of various polish families with young children that had a suspicious family resemblance, the old dog
  13. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    Indeed you read the word to Runrig's The Old Boys to see that:

    At 4 mins on the song is an old boy from the Hebrides, speaking in Gaelic, telling of the despair of getting to St Valery and finding they were abandoned.