When Nazi Germany invaded France in 1940, Donald MacLean hurriedly left Britain to rejoin the 2nd Battalion of the Seaforths, by the part of the 51st Highland Division, on the Continent. Following action against German armoured and artillery units, including Rommel’s 25th Panzer Regiment 2&3, the 51st Highland Division was surrounded and plans made for a Dunlirk-style evacuation. These plans failed and two of the Division’s three Brigades were ordered to surrender at St-Valery-en-Caux, a fishing port west of Dieppe.
Donald was captured there on or about 12th June 1940. He and his family were no stranger to such a situation, his father having been ordered into internment with the Royal Naval Division in neutral Holland for most of the First World War.
Donald survived a harrowing forced march from France with little food or shelter. He was later held in Stalag XXIB, and remained a PoW in Poland and Germany for most of the war.
His march ‘The Heroes of St Valery’ commemorates those who fought and fell there, including the piper and drummer who rest in the well cared for military cemetery above the town.