Bill Millin landed on Sword Beach as part of 1st Special Service Brigade in the second wave. He exited the landing craft, and found himself in three feet of water. Shells and mortar fire broke around him, and several machine guns traversed the water’s edge. The man next to him was shot in the face and slipped beneath the surface of the sea. Millin continued to wade towards the shore, taking care to lift his weapon above his head. His weapon was his set of bagpipes.

Millin’s commander, Lord Lovat, who was commonly regarded as a ‘mad bastard’, ordered him to strike up a tune to rouse the troops. Millin inquired if he was to march up and down the battlefront, as was the tradition for pipers. The stately Lord Lovat is alleged to have replied, ‘That would be lovely’. Millin paraded along the waterfront three times, playing tunes while his comrades fought to secure the beach. German prisoners would later claim that they had not shot him because they’d assumed he was mad.

Millin played his pipes while his unit marched 4 miles in land to what would become known as “Pegasus Bridge”, where they relieved Major John Howard’s defence of the strategically vital crossing over the river Orne from elements of the 21st Panzer Division. (See above – in The Longest Day, 1963 - and below in 1984).

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