As a coda to the commemoration of Dunkirk, a letter in yesterday's Telegraph pays tribute to the men of the 51st Highland Division who held the defensive perimeter during the evacuation.
Following their capture and incarceration in Laufen POW camp, officers of the regiments kept up morale with a weekly dancing class and from this emerged the Reel of the 51st Division, now one of the most popular of the Highland reels.
Flushed with pride at their impressive creation, the officers decided to send details of the dance to their fellows back home. Tradition has it that the German camp censors believed the complicated instructions to be some kind of fiendish code and, to the delight of the Scots, spent many futile hours trying to decipher them.
Purists say it should be danced by men only, in honour of its creators, and would doubtless shudder at the way mixed sets would fill the dancefloor at parties in my youth (often as not incongruously sandwiched between 'Oliver's Army' and 'Tainted Love'), but there is much to be said in favour of a tradition being kept alive by the young -I hope it's still going on.
This amateur rendition of the more complicated double version should give some idea of what the German codebreakers were up against!
The Book of St Richard, Chapter 25
7 minutes ago