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Homecoming for war hero’s Bible

todayAugust 26, 2017 12

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Rev Dr Donald Caskie was leading the Scots Kirk in Paris when France was invaded in 1940 and had to flee the city.

Instead of boarding a ship bound for the UK, he travelled to Marseille and ran a seaman’s mission which became the last link of a chain of safe houses from the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France to his new home in the south.

He helped British and Allied soldiers to escape to Spain until he was arrested and banished from Marseille, but he moved to Grenoble and continued to arrange for the escape of soldiers while a university chaplain.

Church of Scotland

Rev Dr Donald Caskie


Dr Caskie, who was born in Islay, was finally imprisoned by the Gestapo and sentenced to death, but the intervention of a German pastor meant the minster was instead moved to a Prisoner of War camp.

After the war, he returned to the Scots Kirk near the Champs-Elysees in Paris and stayed until 1961.

Before his death in 1983 he wrote a book about his war-time exploits, entitled the Tartan Pimpernel, with the proceeds helping to rebuild the Scots Kirk after the war.

His nephew Tom Caskie, 76, decided to gift his uncle’s Gaelic bible to the Scots Kirk in Paris, which is creating a permanent exhibition in honour of the war hero.

Mr Caskie said: “Donald bequeathed his bible to his brother Neil, with whom he lived in Greenock until his death in 1983 at the age of 81.

“When Neil died about 30 years ago, I was offered a choice of one of his books as part of my inheritance, so I chose the bible.

“It is in good condition and I recognise Donald’s distinctive handwriting inside the cover.

“When I heard that the Scots Kirk wanted to install a permanent memorial to my uncle, I thought it was more appropriate that the bible lived there rather than anywhere else.”

Church of Scotland

Rev Jan Steyn, minister at the Scots Kirk, holding Dr Caskie’s Gaelic Bible with Elder Alisdair Gould. Etienne Des Haynes


Rev Jan Steyn, 56, the current minister in Paris, is delighted the bible had been gifted to the congregation.

“I gladly accepted it and as the inscription in the front of the bible indicates, he acquired it while still in Paris,” he said.

“Its return marks a homecoming after more than 50 years.”

A bible that belonged to a Church of Scotland minister who helped save more than 2,000 soldiers during the Second World War has been returned to his former church.

Written by: Rufus Olaniyan

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