A World War II hero who fought at Le Paradis and spent five years locked inside a prisoner of war camp in Poland is celebrating his 100th birthday.

George Simpson, a Royal Scots veteran living in Midlothian, could not celebrate the milestone with his family on Thursday due to the Covid-19 lockdown, so they instead arranged a piper to play his favourite tune Blue Bear outside his home as a birthday surprise.

Lord Provost of Edinburgh Frank Ross also visited his home with a birthday gift.

Mr Simpson was too young at 17 when he tried to join the Army in 1937, but the recruiting sergeant told him to take a walk around the streets of Edinburgh and be 18 when he came back.

After training, Mr Simpson sailed out from Portsmouth with his battalion on September 21, 1939, bound for Cherboug.

On his 19th birthday, Mr Simpson experienced his first encounter with the enemy when the Germans invaded Belgium on May 7, 1940, in Wavre.

After encountering many losses, his battalion was moved back towards Dunkirk, fighting all the way.

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They took up a defensive position in La Paradis, France, in charge of delaying the enemy to allow an evacuation of Dunkirk. They were ordered to fight until the last man.

Mr Simpson was injured in the leg by shrapnel and was taken to a French prison for treatment, where he was captured and became a POW.

He spent five years in a camp in Poland, where there was a lack of food and water.

Given POW number 15835, Mr Simpson was told to work on the railways, loading material for the front.

He refused to do so as he feared the material would be used against the British. He was punished, given three months detention in a camp.

The Russians eventually freed the camp, ploughing through the wire fencing, and arrangements were made to return the prisoners back to Britain.

The prisoners were issued with new uniforms and documentation, and a special train coach was provided for them to travel to Scotland. Finally, they arrived back at Edinburgh Waverley Station.

After a period of leave, Mr Simpson took up a post in the Military Training School Lanark, training new young recruits for two years.

He then worked in Duncan’s Chocolate Factory in Edinburgh for 40 years.

Mr Simpson went on to have three sons, five daughters, 15 grandchildren, and 27 great-grandchildren – with number 28 now on the way.

Royal Scots colonel Martin Gibson said: “George is a marvellous man who is very proud of his family.

“He is very matter of fact about his time, 80 years ago, fighting for king and country. When discussing with him his time as a Royal Scot, he said: ‘I had to do it to ensure that Britain’s freedom was preserved.’

“The Royal Scots regimental family wish him many happy returns of the day. A piper from our Regimental Association Pipe Band will play for him outside his house.”