The magnificent British author George McDonald Frazier (the Flashman series, Quartered Safe Out Here, The Complete McAuslan) once wrote of slovenly Private McAuslan that, despite all his many shortcomings, he had “followed the pipes at Alamein”.
To the men of the British First Special Services Brigade, those pipes belonged to Private Bill Millin, and he played them on Sword Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944, as the Allied Expeditionary Force landed on the Normandy Coast. Despite the regulations which forbid the playing of bagpipes in combat, Brigade Commander Lord Lovat asked Millin to play as an inspiration to the troops coming ashore.
Private Millin’s bravery is immortalized in the 1962 film The Longest Day, with Leslie de Laspee performing the feat on celluloid.
The story is here.
Private Millin passed away on Wednesday in Devon, England, at the age of 88. Like the countless other heroes of his generation, he and his example will be missed.
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