For military buffs, he is one of our favorite characters from Normandy: Billy Millin, the Scottish bagpiper who bravely walked the beaches on D-Day playing the “Highland Laddie” while men were shot around him. MIllin died this week — one of the truly greatest of the greatest generation.
Millin was on the personal staff of the legendary commando leader Lord Lovat. Under English regulations (after World War I), pipers were not allowed to lead battles but Lovat assured Millin “that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.”
The 1st Special Service Brigade landed on the first day at Normandy and Millin became a legendary figure standing amid the fighting and playing his pipes to strengthen the resolve of the other men. He later achieved similar acclaim in leading the men across the Pegasus Bridge under fire in the push toward Germany. German prisoners later said that they did not shoot him because they thought he had gone insane.
He was the recipient of the French Croix de guerre and of course was featured in the movie “The Longest Day.”
He was 87.
Here is a rendition of The Highland Laddie to accompany you along your way . . .
Well done, Billy, well done.