I AGREE entirely with Alan Simpson’s cynical view of official inquiries ("Binning history... we’ll set up an inquiry into that", The Herald, June 11). A cynic is, after all, simply an optimist with experience. You reported last week that the fatal accident inquiry into the Puma helicopter crash near Sumburgh, Shetland in 2013 may start later this year ("Virtual hearing for helicopter probe", The Herald, June 5). And we’ve been promised an inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh in 2015.

Whatever happened to the Edinburgh trams inquiry? How many millions has it cost so far? And will it produce its report before the next phase of the tram line is built?

It’s important we learn the lessons when mistakes have been made, but the current system of public inquiries appears to be very slow and ponderous. Justice delayed is justice denied, and far too many families are left hanging on for years before they get some understanding of what happened to their loved ones.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

Rommel saluted the 51st

FOLLOWING on from Fraser Kelly's letter (June 11) it should not be overlooked that the highest-ever praise in favour of the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division came from none other than General Erwin Rommel himself. Writing after the conquest of France had been completed, he recorded that when his forces first hit St Valery, he felt confident that he could leave it safely surrounded by a strong force, to be mopped up at a later date, while he focussed on other areas of the campaign. The German resources were very thinly spread, so at once he had all his panzers there loaded on to trains to be sent further along the line.

He recalled that, a short time later the 51st broke out of the town in a counter-attack with a ferocity he had not anticipated and which was coming very close to defeating the remaining troops there. Rommel was helpless, until he was told that the RAF had bombed the railway line along which his panzer trains were travelling, preventing them from moving more than a few miles. He immediately ordered their return, enabling the counter-attack to be suppressed.

Without his panzers, he said that the Second World War would have ended at St Valery.

George F Campbell, Glasgow G41.

Tree lineage

I WAS interested in your article concerning the increase in tree planting in Scotland ("Money growing on trees: Scotland’s £1bn a year forests continue to flourish", The Herald, June 13). There was no mention of the species of trees being planted. The ancient Caledonian Forest consisted of Scots pine, birch, rowan, aspen, juniper and other hardy types. Will all these trees be planted?

Bruce Steven, Glasgow G52.

Bard to worse

Dying in his prime more than 220 years ago, and despite his tangled love life and houghmagandie exploits, with more than60 statues from Aberdeen to Winnipeg, his works translated into more than 40 languages, and Burns Night celebrated worldwide in embassies, hotels, halls, clubs, and ordinary homes, Ian W Thomson (Letterss, June 12) is right that Burns will continue to inspire and entertain generations of Scots.

I also enjoy the legacy of William Topaz McGonagall, always good for a laugh, advanced by George Smith(Letters, June 12 ), but to suggest him as an alternative National Poet and that he has been kept in the shade by the Burns Cult:

“Is deleterious or deleerious

You cannae be serious”.

R Russell Smith, Kilbirnie.