IT’S not very often that an article that I have written inspires a new play, in fact it’s the first time ever, but last July in the Back in The Day column I told the story about the life of a Kirk minister who helped save more than 2000 allied service personnel during the Second World War.

Rev Dr Donald Caskie, who was known as the Tartan Pimpernel, was leading the Scots Kirk in Paris when the Germans invaded France in 1940.

Scotland Back in the Day: Reverend Donald Caskie, the kirk minister with a double life as a war hero

Now his story is to be turned into a play, for when Graeme Dallas and John Hughes were touring with the play Follow Through last year, they came across my article in the National on July 17.

They were looking for their next project and they were amazed that they had never heard of this forgotten Scottish hero who is revered in France but largely forgotten in his home country despite writing his successful autobiography, The Tartan Pimpernel, in the 1950s.

They both managed to track down a copy of the book and started adapting the story into a theatre script to get Donald Caskie’s story out there.

Now they have put together a strong cast of professional actors to work on this powerful play and are putting on the production at the Bungo pub in Nithsdale road as part of the South Side Fringe.

It’s already gained a lot of interest. The first performance on May 20 has already sold out and they have now added another date on May 28.

The Church of Scotland has featured the story of the play on its website. Dallas and Hughes have also contacted Donald Caskie’s nephew, Tom Caskie, who will be attending the opening night.

They are planning a tour of the play later in the year and are hoping to perform the play in Donald Caskie’s hometown of Bowmore on Islay. Tickets are available through The Tartan Pimpernel on Tickets Scotland.

Dr Caskie denounced the Nazis from his pulpit and when the Germans invaded Paris he had to flee the city. While in southern France, he refused the chance of safe passage on the last ship bound for the UK and fled to Marseille instead.

There he ran a Seaman’s Mission, living a double life and passing the close scrutiny of the Vichy Police, and helped British and Allied soldiers to freedom across mountains into Spain. He was eventually recruited by British Intelligence officers and was told that his mission was the last link of a chain of safe houses that they had set up, which stretched from the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France to Marseille in the south.

With nothing to trust but God and his instincts, the crofter’s son operated in the Seaman’s Mission for many months until he was betrayed by a traitor. Dr Caskie was eventually arrested by the Vichy Police, interrogated and banished from Marseille.

He moved to Grenoble where he continued to arrange for the escape of soldiers, seamen and airmen under the cover of being a university chaplain. Dr Caskie was finally imprisoned by the Gestapo and sentenced to death. The minister, who was given his nickname by the BBC, ignored calls from British Intelligence and the Church of Scotland to return home. His life was only saved through the intervention of a German pastor and he spent the rest of the war in a Prisoner of War camp.

Dallas said: “We saw your article last year. We were surprised his story was not well known and now John has done a fantastic adaptation which will do him justice.”