Normandy honour for iconic piper

18 November 2009 07:01
The soldier who led the allied troops with his bagpipes on D-Day is to be honoured with a statue close to the Normandy beach where he landed.Bill Millin, 86, will be at a reception near his nursing home in Dawlish, Devon, on Thursday to meet a French delegation with a model of the statue. [LNB]Glaswegian Bill plans to be at Omaha Beach on the 66th anniversary of D-Day in 2010 to unveil his life-size image. [LNB]"It's going to be a nice statue," he told BBC News."I've seen the drawings." [LNB]He added: "It's a great honour." [LNB]He said he was "quite excited" to meet the French delegation and see the model of his tribute. [LNB]First to land[LNB]Mr Millin has lived in Devon for the past 44 years. [LNB]When the Operation Overlord offensive was launched on 6 June, 1944, Scottish servicemen were among the first to land on Sword Beach at Normandy. [LNB]Lord Lovat led his commandos ashore to the skirl of the bagpipes and asked piper Millin, then aged 21, to play to rally the troops' morale, defying official orders that pipers were vulnerable and should not play. [LNB][LNB]The tale of a piper leading troops ashore is now part of military folkloreLater the Germans claimed they did not shoot him because they thought he must be "mad". [LNB]Lord Lovat's men went on to fight their way to Pegasus Bridge where they met the 6th Airborne Division. [LNB]In 2001, his famous pipes - which were silenced four days later by a piece of shrapnel - were handed by him to the National War Museum of Scotland. [LNB]The picture of the 21-year-old commando playing his pipes became one of the enduring images of the landings, which paved the way for Hitler's defeat. [LNB]His exploits were depicted in the film The Longest Day. [LNB]The statue has been donated by the people of Colleville-Montgomery, which he helped to liberate in 1944. [LNB]The French party at the civic reception will be headed by Serge Athenour de Gourdon, the chairman of the Mary Queen of Scots Pipe Band of France.

Source: BBC_Sport