Band remembers legendary piper

David Myles, Danielle Myles, Donna Myles, Linda Baynes, Heather Robertson, Elaina Stewart and Liz Moss.
David Myles, Danielle Myles, Donna Myles, Linda Baynes, Heather Robertson, Elaina Stewart and Liz Moss.

Members of Forfar and District Pipe Band took part recently in a special commemoration of legendary D-Day piper Bill Millin .

At the age of just 21, Mr Millin was personal piper to Lord Lovat during the 1944 Normandy invasion and piped troops ashore under heavy enemy fire.

Under orders from Lord Lovat, who had defied a War Office ban on pipers, he marched around Sword Beach playing his pipes to boost morale as his comrades fell around him. According to captured German soldiers after the battle, snipers had decided not to shoot at him as they thought he was insane.

His actions were later depicted in the 1962 film ‘The Longest Day’.

The band travelled to Normandy to join others from across Scotland to play at the official unveiling of a memorial statue to Mr Millin, who was originally from Canada although he grew up in Glasgow, in the town of Colleville-Montgomery near Sword Beach.

Mr Millin’s son John led a fund-raising campaign, helped by French supporters, to erect the £80,000 statue to his father to which the Forfar band made a donation. Along with other donors, their support is recorded on a scroll which was placed inside the monument.

Band member Danielle Myles said: “It was a great experience and very emotional piping on Sword Beach, just as Bill Millin had done all those years ago.”

As well as playing at the unveiling ceremony, during which a Spitfire performed a fly-past, the band also piped veterans over Pegasus Bridge to commemorate the battle for the vital crossing between Caen and Ouistreham. Mr Millin had also played his pipes during the assault on the bridge by Lovat’s commando unit.

His D-Day bagpipes are now on display in the Pegasus Bridge Museum and in 2009, a year before his death, France awarded Mr Millin the Croix d’Honneur for gallantry.