Rest in Peace, Piper Millin

August 19th, 2010 | by Sqotty |

D-Day Piper Bill Millin has passed away at the age of 88. For those of you who don’t know who he was, he was the British commando under Lord Lovat who played the pipes during the D-Day invasion and immortalized in the movie “The Longest Day”.

From the NY Times:

Mr. Millin was a 21-year-old private in Britain’s First Special Service Brigade when his unit landed on the strip of coast the Allies code-named Sword Beach, near the French city of Caen at the eastern end of the invasion front chosen by the Allies for the landings on June 6, 1944.

The young piper was approached shortly before the landings by the brigade’s commanding officer, Brig. Simon Fraser, who as the 15th Lord Lovat was the hereditary chief of the Clan Fraser and one of Scotland’s most celebrated aristocrats. Against orders from World War I that forbade playing bagpipes on the battlefield because of the high risk of attracting enemy fire, Lord Lovat, then 32, asked Private Millin to play on the beachhead to raise morale.

When Private Millin demurred, citing the regulations, he recalled later, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish and that doesn’t apply.”

It took a lot of cojones to make yourself a target for German fire. Millin later learned that the German gunners didn’t shoot at him because they thought he was crazy. No, not crazy; just Scottish. And, of course, I really like what Lovat had to say about Brittish regulations. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

The article mentions a plan by a French pipeband to raise money for a statue of Millin. You can get the information from their site. It is in French, but I am sure they won’t say no to contributions from the USA. I’ll be sending them a donation in the next week.

As for Bill Millin, God’s speed, my friend, and rest well. My condolences to your family and friends. I have no doubt that you will be missed; you will also be remembered for your courage during one of the most important battles in history.

Also see:

Daily Mail

and

Telegraph

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