Saturday, August 21, 2010
Bill Millin, a Scottish bagpiper who played highland tunes as his fellow commandos landed on a Normandy beach on D-Day and lived to see his bravado immortalized in the 1962 film “The Longest Day,” died on Wednesday in a hospital in the western England county of Devon. He was 88.
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.”
Other British commandos cheered and waved, Mr. Millin recalled, though he said he felt bad as he marched among ranks of wounded soldiers needing medical help. But those who survived the landings offered no reproach.
“I shall never forget hearing the skirl of Bill Millin’s pipes,” one of the commandos, Tom Duncan, said years later. “As well as the pride we felt, it reminded us of home, and why we were fighting there for our lives and those of our loved ones.”
In 2008, French bagpipers started a fund to erect a statue of Mr. Millin near the landing site, but the fund remains far short of its $125,000 goal.
Rest in Peace Highlander.......