‘Keller Len Scott’: Search launched to find family of Scottish hero captured and killed during battle of St Valery-en-Caux, the ‘forgotten Dunkirk’

A search is underway to trace the family of a Scottish soldier who died following “the forgotten Dunkirk” more than 80 years ago.

The 51st Highland Division soldier evaded capture during the battle of St Valery-en-Caux in Normandy and was hidden by a French family, but was later discovered by the Germans and shot.

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They continued the fight on the Continent in support of the French after the Dunkirk evacuations had been completed, but a flotilla of ships sent to rescue the troops was unable to reach them due to fog and the proximity of German artillery above the town.

Following the commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the battle last June, St Valery resident Patrick Prieur contacted veterans charity Poppyscotland and other organisations for help to trace the relatives of a soldier who was sheltered by a local family.

He is taking on his late father’s quest to find the family of the man, whose name was Keller Len Scott.

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Mr Prieur, 65, whose grandparents and father remained in the town throughout the war, said: “A soldier from the 51st Highland Division was hidden by a local family in the village. They bonded, and the family learned that he was a married man, with a wife and two daughters waiting for him to return home.

A piece of paper with the name of a fallen hero who died following "the forgotten Dunkirk" more than 80 years ago.

“For several weeks, the soldier remained hidden, but regretfully he was eventually discovered by German troops and marched through the town to the municipal cemetery.

“After being forced to dig his own grave, he was positioned against the cemetery wall and shot. His death deeply upset the townspeople, who had been aware of his hiding, and especially my father, who was only 11 at the time.

“In later years, the Franco-British military cemetery was built, and his body was moved there. His grave is marked as ‘Known unto God’, and my father and other villagers tended to it for decades after the war ended.

“My father had been gifted a piece of paper on which the soldier’s name was written, ‘Keller Len Scott’, and this became his prized possession.

The grave of a fallen hero who died following "the forgotten Dunkirk" more than 80 years ago.

“He desperately wanted to find the soldier’s family to tell them what had happened to their beloved and where he was laid to rest, but, having very little information, he struggled.

“In 2014 my father passed away and, being eager to finish what he started, I recently contacted Poppyscotland and the Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association to ask for help.”

Michelle McKearnon, head of engagement at the Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association, said they were only able to get so far with their research into the soldier’s identity, and appealed for help.

She said: “We believe the name order on the piece of paper may have been written in military fashion, with the surname preceding any given names, so the family name might be Keller.”

Dr Claire Armstrong, chief executive of Legion Scotland, said: “As we approach the 81st anniversary of the battle, we hope to identify this Scottish hero, give him the recognition he deserves, and bring peace to his family.”

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