A Burns Night one Bute soldier would never forget

Sergeant Neil McLellan with his friend Anthony Coulthard - one of the many soldiers who did not survive the 'Long March' in the early months of 1945.
Sergeant Neil McLellan with his friend Anthony Coulthard - one of the many soldiers who did not survive the 'Long March' in the early months of 1945.

Seventy years ago this weekend, Bute soldier Neil McLellan left a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp for the last time, five years after being captured - and Neil’s grandson Colin Fulcher has shared some of his grandfather’s wartime memories with readers of The Buteman.

Neil, a sergeant in the 202 Anti-Tank (Isle of Bute) Battery of the Royal Artillery, 51st Highland Division, was one of many men from Bute who were taken prisoner by German forces at Saint-Valery-en-Caux in France in 1940.

But his departure from the Stalag XX-A camp in Thorun, Poland on January 25, 1945, with Soviet forces advancing rapidly on the German lines, wasn’t the end of his captivity: Neil and his campmates were just beginning a long and brutal march, lasting several months, through some of the worst weather seen in Europe for generations, as the Germans desperately tried to keep their prisoners from being liberated.

Colin’s recollections of just a few of his grandfather’s stories - and an account of his own visit to the camp in July 2013 - appear in full in the January 23 issue of The Buteman, on sale now.