As even the youngest of World War II veterans are leaving us in numbers approaching the butcher's bill of D-Day itself, we pause to recognize one whom inspired a country and a culture. Piper Bill Millin known as "Piper Bill" went to join his comrades and play Hielan Laddie for eternity, when he passed the bounds of earth last Wednesday August 17, at Devon, England.
For those who don't know, Bill Millin was the personal piper of Brigadier Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat who led the 1st Special Service Brigade ashore at Sword Beach on D-Day. Lovat ordered Millin to pipe the troops as they stormed the beaches in defiance of an order banning the playing of the pipes. Millin continued to play and marched back and forth along the beach piping as his comrades fell around him. His bravery stunned the Germans, who later claimed that they spared him because they thought him mad. It is worth a moment to pause and read about Piper Millin and reflect on his bravery and perhaps momentary madness as his comrades broke the tide of German invincibility on the sea walls of Normandy so long ago.
Piper Bill Millin (14 July 1922 – 17 August 2010)