THE Tartan Pimpernel, who helped orchestrate the safe return of around 2000 servicemen from occupied France during the Second World War, has been honoured in Paris.

Church of Scotland minister Reverend Dr Donald Caskie has been commemorated on a marble plaque erected on the exterior wall of the Scots Kirk where he was the minister 81 years ago.

Around 100 people attended the unveiling ceremony on La Rue Bayard on Thursday, including local church members and representatives from Mairie de Paris and the Scottish Government.

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Bagpiper Francis Sykes greeted guests with renditions of Auld Lang Syne, Flower of Scotland, Highland Cathedral, Scotland the Brave and The Skye Boat Song.

Local school pupils read aloud in English and French extracts from Caskie’s book, The Tartan Pimpernel, which tells how he fearlessly worked with the French Resistance to help trapped or imprisoned airmen, seamen and soldiers escape Nazi-occupied France.

The commemoration project was led by Derek Bonin-Bree, an elder at the Scots Kirk, with the support of other office bearers as well as minister Reverend Jan Steyn.

They were supported by the Scottish Government’s office in Paris in their mission to persuade Paris City Hall to allow the installation of a commemorative plaque.

Caskie, who was a crofter’s son from the island of Islay, was the minister at the Scots Kirk when the Germans invaded France in 1940. After the Dunkirk evacuation he locked the church on June 9 of that year and joined the mass exodus of Paris, heading south.

He believed that God had commanded him to stay in France and help stranded British subjects. Caskie was warned that he must only engage with civilians and would be arrested if he assisted servicemen.

The Gaelic speaker went on to be recruited by British Intelligence officers. He was eventually arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo and sentenced to death, with his life only being saved through the intervention of a German pastor.

Caskie spent the rest of the war in a Prisoner of War camp, and returned to Scotland after a spell in Paris. He died at the age of 81 in 1983, and is buried in Bowmore on Islay.