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The Tartan Pimpernel by Donald Caskie

The Tartan Pimpernel (1957)

by Donald Caskie

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Autobiographical account of Minister of Scottish Kirk in Paris in 1940, who stayed on after the Nazi invasion to help British civilians and then servicemen escape. After capture he narrowly escaped execution.
  RubislawLibrary | Dec 13, 2013 |
Donald Caskie was the minister of the Scots Kirk (Scottish Presbyterian) in Paris at the time of the German invasion of France in 1940. This autobiography recounts his war-time experiences in the country of France. He walked from Paris to Tours with thousands of other refugees, diving into ditches whenever the German and Italian aircraft roared overhead spitting indiscriminate death all around him. In Tours he purchased a bike and rode to Bordeaux. From Bordeaux he was given a ride to Bayonne where the British offered him a ride on the last ship out of France. He refused, giving his place to a wounded soldier.

Caskie made his way to Marseilles where he took over the abandoned “British and American Seamen’s Mission.” From that base he helped 2,000 British soldiers escape from occupied France (2/3 of the total number that escaped).

The story is fascinating and sheds a lot of light on the human ingenuity that can be exercised in times of crisis. As Caskie observes, war brings out the best and worst in man, and both are seen in this book.

There are several remarkable stories of Providential control. In one prison (in Nice, France) Caskie engraved a portion of Scripture into the plaster wall. Later in another prison (in Italy) after being kept in isolation for about a month, another prisoner was thrown into his cell. This new comrade shared with Caskie that while imprisoned in Nice, he was about to commit suicide when reading a portion of Scripture engraved on the wall changed his mind.

Another remarkable intervention of Providence is seen in the way Caskie’s life was spared. He was condemned to death by a Nazi court in Paris and was awaiting execution when a German Lutheran pastor serving as chaplain to the Nazi troops, visited him in his cell. They shared communion together in the cell, and the German pastor told him: “There are opposing camps and God has placed us, one in each, but the link that binds us, my dear friend, is closer than the tie my nation has on me or yours on you. The cross indeed is the symbol of our common faith.” Some time following this meeting, that same pastor put a plea into Berlin that resulted in Caskie’s death penalty being removed.

I found this account of sacrificial risk more thrilling than any adventure story. ( )
  trbixby | Dec 21, 2010 |
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"I had caught up with a struggling mass of people when German and Italian aircraft streaked down from the sky. Machine guns spat indiscriminate death. Bombs thudded and exploded all along the road."This is the remarkable story of Donald Caskie, minister of the Scots Kirk in Paris at the time of the German invasion of France in 1940. Caskie helped to establish a network of safe houses and escape routes for Allied soldiers and airmen trapped in occupied territory. Finally arrested and interrogated, he was sentenced to death at a Nazi show trial, and it was only through the intervention of a German pastor that his life was saved.… (more)

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