WINSTON Churchill was undoubtedly a great war leader ("Myth of reckless egoist who was last of the imperialists", The Herald, January 21, and Letters, January 22 & 23).

However, he was detested by many Scots, as he was blamed for deliberately abandoning the 51st Highland Division in France in 1940. As a result around 12,000 Scots serving with the Division were killed or became German prisoners.

With no air cover, few tanks and little ammunition the Scots were ordered to face the might of the German army and delay their advance. Thousands of Scots were serving on ships at Dunkirk and saved thousands of English soldiers. When the order to abandon the 51st was received some naval officers were scared the Scottish seamen would mutiny.

The deliberate abandonment of the 51st has been stated to be the most treacherous act by the Allies during the Second World War.

Peter Scott, the naturalist, was a naval officer at Dunkirk and wrote that abandoning the Highland Division in France was one of the darkest days of his life.

While the rest of Britain was celebrating Dunkirk, in Scotland it was gloom as families awaited news of fathers, sons and brothers missing in France. Churchill's abandonment of the 51st is never mentioned in books by war historians except by Saul David.

Churchill was responsible for two major disasters in the Frst World War, Galipolli and the Defence of Antwerp.

The abandonment of the 51st reminds one of the Seven Years War report in the Edinburgh Courant, July 18: "Were not Highlanders put upon every enterprise where nothing was to be got but broken bones?"

Donald J MacLeod,

49 Woodcroft Avenue,

Bridge of Don,


TALENTED writer though he is, lan Bell's vitriol becomes worrying at times. His tirade on Churchill is just the latest.

There are so many points to challenge, but I'll stick to one. Does he really believe that Churchill had no appreciation of what "the common fighting men and their families" gave in their blood, sweat and tears? Did he not say, more than once, that it was the British people, not he, who were the lion? He simply provided the roar.

I can still remember vividly how, as a schoolboy during the war - and especially after Dunkirk - I felt he was all that stood between me and Hitler. I have never lost that feeling. And I was tempted to tell him so when we later came face-to¬ face in a lonely corridor of the Commons. Instead, I just exchanged a common courtesy with a truly great man.

Jack Webster,

58 Netherhill Avenue, Glasgow.