NEW evidence has emerged that 21 soldiers of Edinburgh's Royal Scots regiment were executed at Dunkirk after surrendering to Nazi troops during the Second Word War.
The men were part of a brave rearguard trying to hold back the Germans from reaching thousands of British troops being evacuated from the beaches around the town in May 1940.
Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, author of Dunkirk - Fight to the Last Man, today claimed he had uncovered evidence that French officials later discovered a mass grave containing the bodies of the Royal Scots troops.
He has launched an appeal to former Royal Scots or their descendants to try to find more information on the massacre.
It is understood all the soldiers discovered in the mass grave appeared to have been shot in an execution style, with bullet holes in the back of the head or neck.
The information was contained in the war diary of a Royal Norfolk Regiment officer's war diary that had lain unread for more than 60 years.
The Norfolks had previously been considered the only regiment to have suffered at the hands of SS officers after 97 of its men were executed near the village of Le Paradis near Dunkirk.
Mr Sebag-Montefiore was reported as saying: "I would very much like to hear from former Royal Scots or their descendants who have any information on the incidents near La Paradis.
"This was a terrible atrocity carried out in cold blood and should be documented accurately for posterity."
The war diary revelations are corroborated by a statement taken from a German dispatch rider after the war, who said he had been told 17 British soldiers were captured hiding in a hay loft in an area known to be occupied by the Royal Scots.
He said that "they all had to bite the dust" after being taken to the local SS battle headquarters.
The Royal Scots was the oldest active army unit in the world and the oldest infantry regiment in the British Army after forming in 1633. It traditionally recruited in the Capital and the Lothians and was last year amalgamated into the Royal Scots Borderers.
The latest revelations about the Royal Scots activities in Dunkirk are given further credibility by the account of a Sergeant-Major Johnstone, a Royal Scots NCO interviewed by war crimes investigators seeking evidence on the Le Paradis massacre.
He testified that he and a group of his soldiers had been lined up by a roadside ditch after they surrendered and were disarmed and that SS troopers were preparing to machine-gun them.
Only the order of a passing German staff officer to treat the men as prisoners of war spared them their lives.
Sergeant-Major Johnstone said the German officer commended the Scots, saying: "You fought like tigers."
The Royal Scots were part of 4 Brigade, one of the rearguard units that fought the Germans to a standstill on the Dunkirk perimeter.
Unknown to them they were heavily outgunned by the Germans but they managed to hold them off for long enough to allow over 300,000 soldiers to be taken off the beaches at Dunkirk.