Dancers observe remembrance in reel time
Sir, – Like your correspondent Ken Guild (Men of the 51st deserve better, Letters, November 7) my husband and I watched the excellent Channel 4 programme concerning the 51st Highland Division in 1940.
However, I would like to assure Mr Guild that there is a large section of the Scottish population – and of people worldwide – who regularly remember the officers and men of the 51st.
We are the Scottish country dancing community!
As many of your readers may know, officers of the 51st Highland Division composed and practised a Scottish country dance in their PoW camp after the surrender at St Valery.
The instructions for this were sent to the mother of one officer in Perth, and the dance was taken up by the Perth branch of the Scottish Country Dance Society (now the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society).
It was called The Reel of the 51st Division, and became the first “new” (ie non-traditional) dance to be accepted by the society.
The Reel of the 51st has long been one of the most popular dances in the country dancing repertoire.
It is danced all over the world, and I have danced it in school and church halls as well as at grand balls in many places.
I have taught it to schoolchildren in Dundee, Fife and Perthshire – all of whom were told about its origins and the action at St Valery.
Earlier this week, at a gathering of the Tayside Scottish Country Dance Club in Newport, we were remembering those brave men as we danced the Reel of the 51st.
And yes, we talked about the events of 1940 before we danced it. Helen Lawrenson. Bay Road, Wormit.