The Reel of the 51st Division

	From: "George Meikle" 
	To: "'SCD news and discussion'" 
	Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2005 09:42:28 -0000
	Subject: Re: Reel of the 51st
	Reply-To: SCD news and discussion 

I recently received a copy of a newly released CD from a very good Canadian friend of mine, Fred Moyes. Fred came over and stayed with me when he recorded the CD at David Cunningham's studio on 13th July 2004. After making the recording, Fred left us to go and play at Summer School in St Andrews.

On track 9 of the new CD, Fred has recorded "Reel of the 51st Division (Prison Camp Version)" as a 5x32 Reel. His sleeve notes about the dance are as follows and may help you with some background information:

"Reel of the 51st Division"

In June of 1940, the remnants of the 51st Division of the British Expeditionary Force surrendered to the Germans at St Valery-en-Ceux on the coast of Normandy, France. The 51st was a Highland Division comprising officers and men of the Black Watch, Camerons, Seaforths, Gordons and Argylls. There was also a unit of The Royal Army Service Corps, composed mainly of men from Perth. One group of officers ended up at a prisoner-of-war camp in Laufen, Bavaria where they started a dancing class, dancing, first to clapping and "tempo" calling, whistling of tunes, then chanters obtained through the Red Cross, and finally an accordion. Remembering dances was difficult, so they improvised and even made up a few completely new dances. They danced, not in ghillies and Highland finery, but in army battledress and army boots, the only clothing and footwear they possessed.

One of these new dances, a creation of Lieutenant Jimmy Atkinson of the Argyll Highlanders and Lieutenant Peter Oliver of the 4th Seaforth Highlanders, subsequently modified by suggestion from Lieutenant Colonel Tom Harris Hunter of the R.A.S.C., was named The 51st Country Dance (Laufen Reel). The dance was first performed in public at Officer's Camp 7B at Warburg in Westphalia, Hallowe'en 1941, before Major General Victor Fortune who approved the dance and its name.

Copies of the dance eventually reached Perth, Scotland, where the dance was known briefly as The St Valery Reel. However, this title was short-lived and the dance was given the name by which we now know it, The Reel of the 51st Division.

Initially, the R.S.C.D.S. refused to accept the dance. However, its popularity resulted in its eventual acceptance - but not without a few modifications. The original five-couple set was reduced to four, and a bow, which has ended the first eight bars, was deleted. The dance appeared in RSCDS Book 13 (the 1951 edition), the "original" tune being The Drunken Piper. The tune most used in the prison camps where the dance was danced during the war was My Love She's But A Lassie Yet!. For his "Prison-Camp" version of the Reel of the 51st, this is the lead tune used by Fred Moyes on his CD "What You Hear is What You Get!"

Most of the above information is derived from an article by Michael Young, which appeared in TACTALK. It was made available to me by J.D. Shaw of London (Canada) and R. Anglin of Ottowa, both enthusiastic Scottish Country Dancers and former army officers. The Reel od the 51st Division was danced by a battledress-clad group of ten men at the Teacher's Association of Canada Summer School Ceilidhs in 1994 and 2004, with a uniformed Fred Moyes providing the "original" music on both occasions.

Fred Moyes 2004