The D-Day piper

Bill Millin was a 21-year-old private in Britain’s First Special Service Brigade when his unit landed at the front chosen by the Allies for the invasion on 6 June 1944. He was approached shortly before the landings by the brigade’s commanding officer, who asked him to play on the beachhead to raise morale.

While German troops raked the area with artillery and machine-gun fire, Millin marched and played as his fellow soldiers advanced on the German positions through smoke and flame, or fell on the beach. The scene provided an emotional high point in Darryl F. Zanuck’s film The longest day.

This according to “Bill Millin, Scottish D-Day piper, dies at 88” by John F. Burns (The New York times, 20 August 2010). Above, Millin entertains his colleagues a few days after the momentous battle; below, the sequence from The longest day.

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Filed under Curiosities, World music

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