14 July 1922 - 17 Aug 2010
ZUI this article from the New York Times:
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.(Links in original.)
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.”
After wading ashore in waist-high water that he said caused his kilt to float, Private Millin reached the beach, then marched up and down, unarmed, playing the tunes Lord Lovat had requested, including “Highland Laddie” and “Road to the Isles.”
After the war, he worked on Lord Lovat’s estate near Inverness, but found the life too quiet and took a job as a piper with a traveling theater company. In the late 1950s, he trained in Glasgow as a psychiatric nurse and eventually settled in Devon, retiring in 1988. He visited the United States several times, lecturing on his D-Day experiences.
In 1954 he married Margaret Mary Dowdel. A widower, he is survived by their son, John.