Piper Bill Millin Funeral coverage

On September 2, 2010 ‘The Mad Piper of Normandy’ was laid to rest having passed away at the age of 88.

Though there are pipers on distant battlefields today, Bill was the last of a breed that actually led men into battle while playing the pipes. After WWI the War Office had issued a ban on pipers playing into a charge.

Piper Millin was serving with 1st Commando Brigade when he landed at Sword Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

His commanding officer, Lord Lovat, asked him to ignore instructions banning the playing of bagpipes in battle and requested he play to rally his comrades.

Piper Millin marched up and down the shore in his kilt piping ‘Highland Laddie’. He continued to play as his friends fell around him and later moved inland to pipe the troops across Pegasus Bridge, playing ‘Blue Bonnets Over the Border.’

He later said: ‘Lord Lovat said this was going to be the greatest invasion in the history of warfare and he wanted the bagpipes leading it. He said I was to play and he would worry about the consequences later.

‘As they [his fellow soldiers] moved off I found myself left on my own. No one told me to stop playing, so I had to run after them and catch them up.’

His bagpipes were finally silenced four days later by a piece of shrapnel.

They were handed over to the National War Museum of Scotland in 2001, along with his kilt, commando beret and knife.

For the past 66 years, Bill Millin  returned to France on numerous occasions to pay his respects to his fallen comrades.

The French recognised his courage by awarding him their Croix d’Honneur and two other gallantry decorations. Currently plan to erect a statue of him is under way.

An interesting aside is Bill continued relationship with his commanding officer from the invasion.

Lord Lovat, was one of the most colourful figures of the war, a hereditary chief of the clan Fraser who became a brilliant military commander.

A brigadier on D-Day, he led his Special Service Brigade onto the beaches and through some of the fiercest fighting in the wake of D-Day before being seriously wounded six days later.

When he died in 1994 Bill Millin played at his funeral.


For more information about the campaign to build the statue and the events surrounding it can be found here: http://www.ddaypiperbillmillin.com/

About The Author

Ian is an acclaimed writer, producer, and director of documentary films and multimedia events. He is also a competitive bagpiper and has produced large scale multimedia concerts and pipe band recordings. It is his combined passion for film and piping that endow him with a unique and personal perspective for the Pipes of War project.


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