Famous World War II bagpiper passes away

August 18, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A bagpiper who played men into battle as they stormed the beaches of Normandy during World War II has died, his family said today.

Bill Millin – known as Piper Bill – played his comrades ashore as they landed on Sword Beach during the D-Day landings.

Despite being unarmed Bill, of Glasgow in Scotland, marched up and down the shore in his kilt piping ‘Highland Laddie’.

He was serving with 1st Commando Brigade when he landed in France and ordered to play his pipes on June 6, 1944.

Bill said he ”didn’t notice” he was under fire from German forces and his bravery was later immortalised in the film ‘The Longest Day’.

He had been living in a care home in Dawlish, Devon, after suffering a major stroke seven years ago.

Bill died yesterday aged 88 and his funeral will be held privately followed at a later date by a service of remembrance.

A statement released by his family said he played an ”iconic part of all those who gave so much to free Europe from tyranny”.

They said: ”This morning following a short illness piper Bill Millin, a great Scottish hero, passed peacefully away in Torbay Hospital.”

During D-Day his commanding officer, Lord Lovat, asked him to ignore instructions banning the playing of bagpipes in battle and requested he play to rally his comrades.

He continued to play as his friends fell around him and later moved inland to pipe the troops to Pegasus Bridge.

His bagpipes, which were silenced four days later by a piece of shrapnel, were handed over to the National War Museum of Scotland in 2001, along with his kilt, commando beret and knife.

Despite suffering a stroke, Mr Millin continued to travel to France regularly.

Speaking in 2006 he said: ”I enjoyed playing the pipes, but I didn’t notice I was being shot at. When you’re young you do things you wouldn’t dream of doing when you’re older.”

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