Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 556

Issue # 556                                             Week ending Saturday 13th June  2020

It’s Not Unusual to Go Eye to Eye with A Young Deer, My Dear
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Our world has changed forever, they say, yet some things have not changed at all. The streets are just about as deserted as on as a 1960s-Sabbath in downtown Stornoway. Quiet, quiet, quiet. The occasional drunk wibble-wobbles out of the grounds of Lews Castle, where the thirstiest islanders always kept a Tennents stash in an old tree, looks right and left and, deciding there is no public conveyance available, starts to weave an unsteady path towards an unmade bed in  Marybank,  Laxdale or, sometimes, even Point.

People said the animal kingdom knew when the seventh day was being observed here on God’s own island. Cattle, sheep and pheasant ventured closer to the road then because the roads were quieter that day. Fewer Morris Minors and Austin A35 vans - except just before the doors of the kirks were flung open, and just after the intimations and chucking-out time.

Now it is so quiet that deer are getting bolshie. We were out in the van on essential deliveries recently and as I drove past Newmarket, just north of the town, a young stag was by the side of road. I toot-tooted to alert the venison dinner on legs, as I expected it to turn and flee. Nope. It turned slowly, disdainfully, with an irate look visible under his junior antlers, to see who was trying to put him off his leisurely graze. I slowed right down. I stopped. No fear, but none from the deer either.

That stag knew where to look to stare straight at me. Gulp. Stare right back, Maciver. Engaged in psychological combat, I heard Mrs X pipe up: “You took too long to react. You were almost on him.” Listen hon, I didn't take too long. That stag and I were locking in a mental duel. This is a male thing. You're a woman. You wouldn’t understand.

That withering “Wait till I get you home” look faded as she realised the unpredictable and very stubborn deer was now a couple of feet from the van. It held its piercing, annoyed look and did not flinch. Mrs X realised a battle of minds had begun and she began to slowly wind up her window. The stalemate continued. A Woody’s Express Parcels van whizzed past but the deer still stared at me and stood its ground.

Of course, this particular cereus elaphus scoticus may have had the antlers but I had a big horn myself. Beee-eeeep. Deciding that an advancing Vauxhall Vivaro with a revving engine and an extremely deafening horn, and an extremely annoying driver, were not something he needed to suspend an afternoon’s grazing for, he was off, hip-hopping over the heathery clumps and heading for the Achmore TV mast. Phew, that was so unusual.

It’s also unusual for a guy who sang songs in the 1950s to still be around. But it’s not unusual for people to say Tom Jones is amazing and this week he turned 80. It is even more unusual because he was one of the people who had to endure lockdown earlier in his life. He contracted tuberculosis and at just 12, had to be isolated. Stuck in a bedroom for two years, for most of that time he could not get up out of bed.

Many people are isolated now, as they were then. Yet, now, we resent it. Two and a half months in and we are climbing the walls. The less-intelligent among us just ignore the rules to avoid transmission of the disease and have decided that sitting in and doing nothing is too much to ask of them. They put themselves at risk - but, more seriously, others. Changed days.

And a changed message from the government. Not yours, Nicola. You can sit down again. I saw Hancock’s Half Hour on Monday, presented by health secretary Matt Hancock and it was exactly what we wanted to hear. We are beating the pants off Covid-19 and everything is under control. Just one problem, it is difficult to believe that there is not a huge risk still of another wave that could also cause more misery and suffering.

We must still help the NHS. Some people give blood. As Mr Hancock said: “I don't mind giving a reasonable amount, but a pint? Why, that's very nearly an armful.” Wait, that was the other Mr Hancock. Tony. Phew, I’m glad I cleared that up. The message is the same - Help the NHS.

That earlier encounter with the young stag reminded me that my pal Joe and his brother came back from his Canadian holiday before lockdown. Being from Clydebank, he had never encountered the joys of Canadian hospitality until then. They went to Nova Scotia and stayed in a wee town called New Glasgow.

After downing a few drams, he noticed a large, stuffed animal head with giant antlers on the wall. He says to the barman: “Ah didnae realise ye had deer o’er here.” The barman says: “We don’t. That’s a moose.” Joe was aghast. “That’s a moose? How big are yer flamin’ cats?”

Quarantine Starts for Travellers Entering Scotland
Anyone entering Scotland from abroad must go into quarantine for two weeks or face a £480 fine. The 14-day isolation period will be enforced from Monday to prevent new cases of Covid-19 being brought into the country.  The Scottish public health measures are broadly similar to the UK-wide measures which take effect at the same time.  More than 200 airlines and travel companies have asked for the new rules to be scrapped.  Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed during Sunday's coronavirus briefing that Scotland would be following the rest of the UK by introducing a quarantine for travellers.  Passengers will be expected to follow and adhere to the Scottish guidance when their final destination is Scotland.  The regulations apply to people who live in Scotland who are returning from outside the UK as well as to visitors.  The fines are lower than those in England, where there will be fixed penalty notices of £1,000 or prosecution for anyone who breaches their self-isolation. Mr Yousaf said this was due to the different legal systems in the two countries which mean a fine would have to be reported to the procurator fiscal if above £500.  From today,8 June, the rules for Scotland are:  Residents and visitors arriving from abroad must self-isolate for 14 days.  All travellers must complete an online passenger locator form supplying contact details, travel details and the address of where they will self-isolate.  Border Force will carry out spot checks at the border and can impose a fine of £60 on those who refuse to comply (£100 in England).  Arrangements will be made for those arriving into Scotland to be contacted during self-isolation to receive public health advice and information. Those who fail to self-isolate can be fined £480 (up to £1,000 in England).  Persistent offenders can be reported to the procurator fiscal for potential prosecution and a maximum £5,000 fine. If someone arrives in the UK with coronavirus symptoms they need to tell staff on their plane, train ferry or bus and they will not be allowed to use public transport to get to their destination to self-isolate. If international travellers are not able to self-isolate safely when they get here, then the UK Westminster government will provide accommodation for them, at cost to the traveller.  Mr Yousaf said: "We are, as a country and across the world, continuing to deal with unprecedented challenges that this pandemic brings. These public health measures will play an important part in helping to prevent further spread of the disease.  These steps are aimed at protecting people and ensuring that we limit spread when our own infection rates are falling.  However, they are temporary and will not be in place any longer than deemed necessary to protect public health - as such, they will be reviewed after three weeks."

Face Coverings and Mass Booking for Catholic Church Return
Churchgoers should wear face coverings and may have to book places at Mass when churches reopen, Scotland's Catholic Bishops have said.  The Bishop's Conference of Scotland has sent the country's 600 priests guidance about the resumption of public worship. They have been encouraged to start preparations to allow churches to safely reopen with social distancing. Priests are being told to "act in harmony" with Scottish government advice. The Catholic church's guidance has been developed by its Covid-19 infection control working group, chaired by Scotland's former chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns.  In line with the Scottish government's "route map" for easing lockdown, the guidance stresses that Mass can resume once the country enters phase three, with the recommendation to have services on both Saturdays and Sundays to allow more people to attend.  Priests are being asked to measure the church in two-square-metre areas to estimate how many people can safely attend services, but are reminded they should only open if there is enough trained volunteers and PPE available. In parishes where demand for places exceeds the restricted capacity of the church, the advice suggests "it may be advisable to introduce a booking system for places at Mass, either online or by phone".  Further guidance includes requiring all churchgoers and clergy to wear face coverings, and use hand sanitiser when entering and leaving.  Liturgical guidelines for Mass state that Holy Communion wafers should be placed in a person's hand, rather than their mouth, hymns may be omitted and "sermons should be brief".  The letter from the eight Scottish Bishops to priests accompanying the guidance says: "Our aim is to act in harmony with the guidance of the government and the health authorities, with whom we are in conversation, and to return to our normal liturgical and devotional practice in a safe and phased way."  The letter continued: "It is important that we act together as the Catholic Church in Scotland, in step with one another, and clear about what is legitimate and prudent at each stage of the process."  It adds: "Happily, as the virus abates and restrictions are eased, we can begin to move firmly and sensibly towards the reopening of churches and the resumption of public worship.  We look forward eagerly to the day when it will be possible to gather again, without fear, around the altar and celebrate the Holy Eucharist together."

Hundreds Found with Covid After Hospital Admission
Hundreds of patients were found to have Covid-19 after being admitted to hospital for other conditions, the Scottish government has confirmed.  A total of 908 patients were found with the infection and 218 of them died.  It is not clear at this stage if they acquired the infection in hospital, or in their community prior to admission.  Labour called for an inquiry while the Conservatives demanded an urgent statement from the health secretary after the figures were revealed.  The Scottish government insisted it was being transparent but said it was necessary to properly validate figures before they were released.  On Thursday, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said there were 125 "incidents" of suspected Covid-19 transmission in hospital.  Opposition parties said they wanted to know if any of these people had been released into care homes after being in hospital. The Scottish government said any death related to Covid-19 was a tragedy and it was "working tirelessly" to reduce infection rates and support those affected.  A spokesman said: "Any claims that the Scottish government has sought to mislead or hide figures are utterly unfounded.  We are committed to transparency and openness while ensuring that all figures that are published have first been robustly validated to ensure accuracy."  The government said it was still working to establish validated data about healthcare-acquired infections and this would be published as soon as possible.

New Contractor Needed for £350m Aberdeen Harbour Expansion
A new contractor is being sought to complete work at Aberdeen's £350m harbour expansion. The project at Nigg is aimed at allowing cruise ships to berth. Construction was stopped by the coronavirus outbreak, but there is concern further delay could cause damage to existing works. Talks are ongoing between the harbour board and current principal contractor Dragados, but a contract has been issued for a new firm to come in.  The contract, issued last Wednesday, is to complete several unfinished works at the South Harbour development. This includes dredging and excavation.  Contract documents say elements of the coastal wall construction are incomplete, with uncertainty regarding the stability of the remaining structure.  It is also being warned that without substantial intervention, there is a risk that erosion of existing works could lead to land slippage and damage to roads. Aberdeen Harbour Board said it remained "fully committed" to the development, and was exploring the way forward. A statement explained: "Like many construction projects across the country, we are looking at how we proceed once work can restart. As part of our response to the current situation, and to mitigate against the impact of Covid-19, we are now in talks with our current principal contractor for the construction of South Harbour, Dragados UK, about the best way forward and we are considering all possible courses of action."  The expansion would allow cruise ships to berth alongside the dock, eliminating the need to ferry passengers ashore by small boat.  In October, completion being delayed was announced. Initially due this year, work was being based on a phased completion in 2021.  The dredging programme had met "technical challenges".

Public Help Sought to Complete Medal Collection by Attributing Pictures to Highlanders Heroes
North historians are asking people to supply photographs of heroic loved ones who were awarded military medals in decades past.  The Highlanders Museum at Fort George, near Inverness, has a huge collection of medals but many do not have a great deal of background attached to them.  Pictures are now being sought to put faces next to the names of the soldiers who were awarded the accolades.  Volunteers at the museum, led by retired Lieutenant Colonel Bob Towns, have created a medal carousel and touch screen medal finder in recent years.  The search engine allows members of the public to bring up veterans’ names, where a photo of their medal haul and a summary will be displayed.  However, since restrictions were implemented under the coronavirus pandemic, people have not been able to visit the museum.  People are now being asked to check whether any relatives might feature on the extensive list, and share their stories with museum chiefs.  Lt Col Towns said: “This will allow us to ensure that these brave men are honoured for their achievements for generations to come.  “It is important. We don’t want all of these medals to sit in drawers.  We want the people who were awarded these medals to be known and to make it quite a high point of the visit to the museum.  The photograph will be added to the display adding greatly to our records of these gallant men.  It certainly brings more of a personal element to the whole process.”  To submit photos, members of the public are being asked to log on to the museum’s website at, access the PDF list of medals and search their family name. If any matches are discovered, family members are asked to contribute photos by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or via post addressed to FAO Bob Towns, c/o The Highlanders Museum, Fort George, Ardersier, IV2 7TD. Lt Col Towns has said any additional information uncovered from family testimonies will be included in displays at the museum. The full medal list can be accessed at:

Couple Hit Out At Lothian Wedding Venue for Refusal of £2k Booking Fee

An Edinburgh couple forced to cancel their June wedding due to lockdown have accused their East Lothian reception venue of being ‘heartless’ after the company refused to repay a £2,314 booking fee.  The couple had arranged to marry on Saturday, June 27 at the popular Eskmills Venue in Musselburgh, but due to the health pandemic the wedding had to be rearranged for August. Grant Cluess, 53, said that he and his fiancee Susan Wright, 42, were happy to reschedule as they understood it was “just the way it was”.  But they were informed that the wedding would be unable to take place until October which was “too far away” for them.  Grant said: “We just want to be married now. We wanted to do it properly as it’s a special day. but we don’t really mind how anymore. I’d be happy to do it down the beach or even in our garden, but we don’t want to wait till October.”  The couple asked to cancel their wedding and say the venue said it would be “no problem”, before adding that it was company policy to retain 35 per cent of the initial £6,814 cost as a cancellation fee. Grant said: “I was shocked. I understand needing to keep a few hundred for administration fees or to cover any other costs but 35 per cent is shocking.  After that it got complicated They had been really helpful up until then but as soon as I said I thought that wasn’t a reasonable amount of money to keep they said ‘we are perfectly within our rights’ and ‘it’s a matter for our lawyers now’.”  The couple have been trying to get their money back but have been repeatedly told by Eskmills Venue that they are acting within their regular policy procedure and they do not have to return the money.  The Edinburgh cabbie said: “They have just been so heartless about this. It seems wrong that they would keep so much money when we have been forced to cancel the wedding because of the pandemic. It’s not like we want to cancel the wedding. It’s just that the company can’t offer us what we initially paid for anymore.” A spokesperson from Eskmills Venue said: “We understand that this is a very emotional and stressful time for everyone due to get married in 2020 and sympathise with all the families involved, including Susan and Grant.  The approach taken by Eskmills Venue in the event of the cancellation of a wedding due to factors outwith either party’s control, such as here, is in accordance with guidance from the Association of British Wedding Businesses (ABWB).  Our first step is always to explore all options and to try and find a replacement date which is acceptable to the clients. If that is not possible, we will look to refund a portion of sums which the customer may have paid up to the time of cancellation.  Unfortunately, a full refund is not normally possible, as the customer will have benefitted from various preliminary and preparatory activities in respect of which Eskmills Venue will have incurred costs.”

My Heart's In The Highlands
A song by Robert Burns, written in 1789.
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here, My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe, My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North, The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth ;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

Farewell to the mountains, high-cover'd with snow,  Farewell to the straths and green vallies below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods,  Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here, My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe, My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Stornoway Gazette Will Continue to Be A Quality News Title Which is Based and Staffed in the Islands

JPIMedia, owner of the Stornoway Gazette newspaper, is looking at closing some newspaper offices around the country and is currently in consultation with its staff about this process.The Stornoway Gazette office which is located at Unit 7 Harbour View, Cromwell Street Quay in the town centre is one of those being considered for closure.  The paper and its staff moved to that location from its long-term offices at 10 Francis Street, Stornoway almost four years ago. The Stornoway Gazette employs a full time member of staff, editor, Melinda Gillen, part-time Local Democracy Reporter, Peter Urpeth and freelance sports reporter, Eric Mackinnon.  Talking about the process, editor Melinda Gillen, said: “The company has started a consultation process with its employees about the closure of some offices, that consultation is ongoing, and no decision about which offices will close has been taken. Whatever decision is taken the Stornoway Gazette will still be a locally produced newspaper, bringing its thousands of readers - online and in print - quality news from across the Western Isles. Locally based staff will still produce the title and readers will still be able to contact the editor and reporters in the usual way with their stories, highlight issues which are important to them and promote upcoming events.  The public will also be able to continue to place their announcements and other advertisements in the paper in the current manner via email, or on the phone.”

Police Drones Deployed Near Alloa in Search for Man Who Fell Into the River Forth

Police are using drones near Clackmannanshire to search for a man who fell into the River Forth.  Prajwal Pandharinath Guhagarkar is believed to have fallen into the water in a “tragic accident” near Bridgehaugh Road in Stirling during the early hours of Saturday. Emergency services were originally alerted to the incident at 2.45am on the date the 21-year-old is said to have fallen.  Following days of searching, Police Scotland’s Air Unit confirmed it is now assisting with the effort to find the young man as of Tuesday, June 9.A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: "Emergency services are continuing to search for a 21-year-old man who was reported to have fallen into the River Forth near Bridgehaugh Road. It appears to have been a tragic accident that happened on a night out and a number of resources, including the Police Scotland Dive and Marine Unit, are being used as part of this search."

Dumfries and Galloway Families Warned Over Childcare Access
A council has warned that some families may have to travel to access early learning and childcare services.  Local authorities have been released of their legal obligation to double free childcare provision by August due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Dumfries and Galloway Council said all enrolments for August had been reviewed based on capacity across the region.  It said that it meant some families might not initially find their first choice of childcare was available.  The council said alternative services would be offered but admitted it could involve further travel.  Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, all education authorities had been working toward increasing early learning and childcare provision to 1,140 hours from August to comply with Scottish government legislation.  However, in light of the health crisis, that deadline was lifted.  There remains a commitment to deliver the expansion but local authorities now have more discretion to determine the timing of their plans. In Dumfries and Galloway, all projects in the last stage of the early learning and childcare plan have been delayed by the pandemic.  It includes work to enhance school nursery provision at Laurieknowe, Calside, Noblehill, Canonbie and Springholm.  The council said it had been on track to meet its statutory obligations before the coronavirus outbreak. A report said further guidance was expected on social distancing in due course and plans would need to "respond and adapt" once those were issued. It stressed the council would make "every effort" to provide as many hours as possible to children during the recovery period.

NE Skipper Warns No-deal Brexit ‘Will Hurt’ Scottish Fishing Industry
Failure to find a fishing compromise in the Brexit talks “will hurt” the Scottish industry, insiders warned as negotiations entered extra time.  Fishing leaders have told MPs that if differences between the UK and EU are not ironed out before the end of the transition period on December 31 there will be a “risk to the industry” short-term.  The warnings come just days after the final round of scheduled talks between London and Brussels broke off, with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier accusing his opposite number, David Frost, of not showing “any true will” to reach a deal.  Since the outset of negotiations the EU has demanded “status quo” access to UK waters, which would essentially mean a continuation of the common fisheries policy – something that has been categorically rejected by Boris Johnson. Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, told the Commons environment committee that, despite the differences, a deal must be done “no question”. He said: “The number one priority for the members I represent is for the UK to get a deal with the EU.  We’ve got trade flowing both ways, probably worth about a billion pounds, on seafood coming into the UK and seafood leaving the UK, and therefore it is in the best interest of both parties to make sure they get a deal so that continues, because anything else will hurt both sides.  He added: “I would hate to see any type of time delays because we are a just in time delivery service, fresh fish on the slab the next day is what we’ve built our market on, so we don’t want to see any restrictions that is going to create time delays.  There is no question about it, getting a deal with the rest of Europe is really important to our fishermen.” Jeremy Percy, director of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, which represents the UK’s small fishing vessels, agreed that a deal was needed.  He said: “Eighty percent of the fish we catch is exported and we’re facing the potential, if we do have a no-deal, of both tariff and non tariff barriers.  Tariff barriers are going to be unhelpful enough, non tariff barriers are potentially far more dangerous.  We’re looking at catch certificates, health certificates, transport certificates, on top of that you’ve got both French customs, who are not exactly renowned for their patience, but also French fishermen. They can close down the ports or outside the port very quickly and for shellfish exports, especially, that’s the death of it.”  The comments came as Cabinet Office minister Penny Morduant hinted negotiations were nearing a conclusion.  Speaking in the Commons, she said: “We cannot keep negotiating forever, we have to allow our businesses, our farmers, our citizens time to implement the decisions taken. That is why we are at this key stage now where we have to increase and escalate negotiations because we need to arrive at a deal soon.”

Oz Author's Gift to Strathnaver Museum

An Australian author has freighted out a historic artefact she is gifting to Strathnaver Museum, after her plans to present it in person were scuppered.  Mary Garden is donating the illuminated address, which was presented to her great-grandfather Robert Garden more than a century ago by north coast residents.  She had intended to take it with her when she travelled to the UK this year to attend Ullapool Book Week but coronavirus scuppered her plans. So she decided to ship the artefact out instead, incurring not just freight costs but a £200 customs fee.  The walnut-framed illuminated address was given as a token of the esteem in which north coast residents held Mr Garden, a merchant who used his wealth to help the poor. Ms Garden, who now hopes to come to Scotland next year, said the artefact had been held by various family members but was given to her brother Robert after her father’s death in 1997. She said: “I managed to talk him into giving it to me when I began researching a book on my father. It is a treasured and beautiful piece, but I thought it was better to be in a museum where it could be preserved and more people could enjoy it.”  Australian author Mary Garden, who has family ties to north Sutherland, was hoping to present the historic artefact to Strathnaver Museum in person.

Blackface 'Will Not Be Tolerated' At Up Helly Aa Festival
The organisers of Shetland's main Up Helly Aa festival have said the use of blackface "will not be tolerated".  The committee which runs the Lerwick event said there was "no place" for racism amid growing calls for a ban.  One island resident had asked festivals across Shetland to take action in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. The events in Bressay and Delting have both introduced a ban and the Cullivoe festival said its use was "particularly offensive" and not welcome.  A number of villages around Shetland stage their own festivals each winter, with the largest taking place in Lerwick every January.  The committee which organises that event said: "We are committed to ensuring that racism has no place in Up Helly Aa and can confirm that the use of blackface will not be tolerated.  The committee will discuss this further, when we can meet, and communicate with our members."  Ellie Ratter, from Brae, had written to the festivals across Shetland asking them to formally ban squads from using blackface in their acts.  The 20-year-old took action after photographs showing its use had been posted online in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.  That call was backed by Shetland Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart, who said: "Seeing blacked-up faces at some local events needs to be a thing of the past."  Labour MSP Rhoda Grant and Green MSP John Finnie both added their voices to the campaign.  Mr Finnie has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for an end to the practice. He said it was likely that no malice was intended, but that the use of blackface at a major community event excludes Shetland's black, Asian and minority ethnic residents and visitors.  Mrs Grant said: "I totally support a change and the banning of using blackface in the future. The Black Lives Matter movement has made people scrutinise behaviour close to home and I agree with that, as I was worried people would point fingers at the USA, while racism happens in every part of society here. That the people in Shetland are now looking at this and fighting for change is an example to every community to do the same."  The Up Helly Aa festivals remember the Vikings who used to rule the Shetland islands 1,000 years ago.  Squads of warriors parade through the streets by torchlight before the day culminates with the dramatic burning of a replica Viking long ship.

The 99-year-old Veteran of the 'Forgotten Dunkirk'

In June 1940, in the days after the successful mass evacuation at Dunkirk, more than 10,000 men fought a desperate last stand in a small French seaside town. Among them was teenage soldier Donald Smith.  Donald, who is now 99, was part of the 51st Highland Division who were left in France when Dunkirk was evacuated, and ordered to fight on against Hitler's war machine in the face of overwhelming odds.  The teenage soldier had grown up in Yorkshire but joined the Seaforth Highlanders, part of the Highland division, before the outbreak of World War Two.  He choose the Scottish battalion because of a family connection and his strong links to the country through his Glaswegian father.  Donald, who now lives in Forres in Moray, signed up with five friends and they completed their training at Fort George in the Highlands and Maryhill in Glasgow.  In January 1940, the division landed in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).  In the months that followed, the BEF, along with elements of the French army, were pushed back to northern France by attacking German forces.  The Highland division became separated from the BEF and while hundreds of thousands of expeditionary soldiers headed for Dunkirk, the 51st was ordered to "hold the line" with the French army.  Over the course of a few days, almost 340,000 British and French troops were famously evacuated from the beach at Dunkirk.  The 51st, meanwhile, was fighting a losing battle. "We knew nothing about Dunkirk," says Donald. "We never knew anything about it. All we were told was that we were moving back to northern France. We had been in a lot of skirmishes," recalls Donald. "But then we moved back to Abbeville where one of the biggest battles was. It was a battle to end all battles."  One of Donald's five friends was among those killed before the division, along with the French, were pushed back again.  "We were pushed back right along the Normandy coast. You would find along the way graves of the 51st," says Donald. There were plans to evacuate the division but due to the advancing German forces, the options were narrowed to the small port of St Valery-en-Caux.  Donald's battalion reached the town of Veules-les-Roses, near St Valery.  "We were marching down this road and suddenly across a field in the distance it was absolutely black with troops and tanks coming at us," he says.  "We had to dive for cover and we lay down with our packs in front of us, with our guns sticking out."  The soldiers were shelled by artillery and tanks. A high explosives shell burst above the heads of Donald and two of his friends.  His pals were killed and Donald was knocked unconscious by the explosion. He was severely injured by pieces of shrapnel.  "I woke up in a first aid tent," he says. "What a mess that was. I feel sorry for the medical staff. We (the wounded) were in a bad state, but those poor devils were up to their eyes in it."  "There were men lying on the floor on stretchers or just on a ground sheet."  It was decided Donald should be moved to a hospital in St Valery, which was by now on the brink of being occupied by German troops.  Two artillery gunners were tasked with carrying Donald to the hospital. He says: "On the way into town German patrols were coming along the side streets, searching houses.  There was an old bus at the side of the road with its windows broken and the two artillery lads put me inside, near the front, and they told me to stay there and they would come back for me.  I must have dozed off or passed out again because the next thing there was a crash and a bang. I was the luckiest lad alive again as I looked round and saw the back end of the bus had blown out."  Donald staggered from the wreckage towards the harbour. Passing through a gate in a high wall he found himself at a house and in a garden with a pond, a fountain and the statue of an angel. The owners of the property offered him shelter, but there was little respite for the young soldier. A tank crashed through the main entrance to the garden and German soldiers "poured in".  The capture of 51st (Highland) Division following fighting at St Valery has been described as a "forgotten battle" of World War Two.  Its veterans, including Donald Smith believe the division was "sacrificed" to ensure the success of the evacuation at Dunkirk.  Events to mark the 80th anniversary include pipers across Scotland performing a "doorstep tribute".  Poppy Scotland asked pipers and other musicians to play Heroes of St Valery at 10:00 on 12 June on their doorsteps.  The music was written by Lewis-born pipe major Donald MacLean.  Following his capture, Donald caught a glimpse of what could have been.  While helped by two other prisoners of war (PoWs), he was marched to clifftops where he looked out over the English Channel and saw some ships that had been sent in an unsuccessful attempt to evacuate the 51st.  Donald was taken to a farmhouse where wounded PoWs were being given some medical treatment in a barn.  A senior German officer took an interest in the badly-injured Seaforth Highlander.  Donald says: "This big German top brass came up and he looked down at me and said: 'How old are you laddie?' in perfect English.  "'Old enough to fight you', I said back to him."  Once he had recovered from his wounds, he was moved to Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf, a PoW in Poland.  He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner, before being liberated by US troops while on a months-long forced "death march" alongside retreating German soldiers.  Of his friends who joined the Seaforth Highlanders, Donald was the sole survivor.  "I get very emotional when I think of them," he says.  "They were true friends. To think I was the only one to come back is hard to describe unless you are in my shoes."