Tartan Pimpernel tribute
History: French honour Scot who worked with Resistance to free prisoners
A Church of Scotland minister who helped prisoners of war escape from a fort through a sewer system, has been honoured in France.
A memorial plaque to mark the exploits of Rev Dr Donald Caskie has been unveiled at Fort de la Revere, near Nice in the south of France.
He and his Resistance allies orchestrated the escape of RAF personnel from under the noses of German soldiers and brought 36 of them back to Britain in a submarine.
Known as the Tartan Pimpernel, Dr Caskie, a crofter’s son from Islay in the Inner Hebrides, helped save more than 2,000 men during the Second World War.
The plaque at the former military fort, which is 2,280 feet above the village of Eze, was installed by an organisation called Le Devoir du Memoire.
The minister’s nephew Tom Caskie was at the unveiling service along with around 100 people, including local dignitaries, and said he was “bursting with pride”.
The Edinburgh man said: “The memorial is simply wonderful and it was very emotional to see Uncle Donald honoured in this way and seeing the Saltire on display.
“He was a hero of the Second World War and is still remembered with affection for his time as the minister of the Scots Kirk in Paris and the things he did with the Resistance to save thousands of lives.”
Mr Caskie and his brother Gordon were presented with a commemorative medal to mark the occasion.
The event also featured Highland dancing and Scottish songs including a performance of the Ballad of Donald Caskie by Paisley school teacher Gordon Whyte.
Dr Caskie, whose codename was Monsieur Le Canard – Donald Duck – was leading the Scots Kirk in 1940 when the Germans invaded Paris.
He refused to return to Scotland and fled to Marseille, where he ran a seaman’s mission, living a double life and passing the close scrutiny of the Vichy police.
He helped British and Allied soldiers to freedom across the mountains into Spain.
Dr Caskie was eventually recruited by British Intelligence officers and told that his mission was the last link of a chain of safe houses they had created.
The story of how he helped liberate prisoners from Fort de la Revere in 1942 is outlined in his book The Tartan Pimpernel.
WAR HERO: Gordon Whyte with the plaque for Tartan Pimpernel Donald Caskie at the fort where he helped liberate so many Allied troops