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France

Normandy town mourns D-Day piper’s death

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2010-08-20

Bill Millin landed on the beaches of Normandy playing the bagpipes, an act of heroism immortalised in the 1962 film "The Longest Day". His death, aged 88, has touched hearts in the Normandy town he helped liberate.

 

A town in Normandy is in mourning after the death of bagpiper Bill Millin, who played his comrades ashore during the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944.
Bill Millin
 
The Scotsman, who died in Torbay, Devon, England, aged 88, landed at the head of Lord Lovat’s 1st Commando Brigade wearing a kilt and armed only with the traditional dagger in his sock.
 
His morale-boosting playing of “Highland Laddie” and “Blue Bonnets over the Border” under heavy fire was immortalised in the 1962 film “The Longest Day”.
 
Guy Legrand, Mayor of Colleville-Montgomery, the village next to Sword Beach where the commandos came ashore, paid tribute to the piper whose bravery has touched the hearts of many generations of townsfolk.
 
“We have been raising funds since last year to erect a statue of Bill Millin, and it will be unveiled next year,” Mayor Legrand told FRANCE 24.
 
“We were hoping that he would be there - it is very sad that he will not be there to see it.
 
“He has been coming back to Colleville-Montgomery for many years to pay respects to his fallen comrades. We knew him well and everyone in this town has a sentimental attachment to him.
 
“He was undoubtedly a very brave man. But he was also kind, understanding and a great diplomat.”
 
The statue will be unveiled on June 6, 2011 in Avenue de Bruxelles in Colleville, 200 metres from where the 1st Commando Brigade came ashore in 1944.
 
Millin’s family are understood to be holding a private ceremony, but Mayor Legrand said a ceremony will be held at nearby Pegasus Bridge on Sunday.
 
Pegasus Bridge, a vital tactical target for the invasion, was taken by British airborne troops the night before the D-Day invasion, and was relieved by Lovat’s commandos the following day to the sound of Millin’s pipes.

 

Bill Millin, as portrayed in the 1962 film 'The Longest Day'

 

Date created : 2010-08-20

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