Scotland's Bill Millin, 81, Honored in Normandy and on Stamp To close the hour, we note the occasion of the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Amidst the turmoil and chaos of what was happening on the beach in Normandy, there was music. In the Scottish tradition, bagpiper Bill Millen was marching up and down the shore -- bullets flying by -- playing tunes for the Scottish troops. We speak with Millen, who recalls that experience.
NPR logo Scotland's Bill Millin, 81, Honored in Normandy and on Stamp

Scotland's Bill Millin, 81, Honored in Normandy and on Stamp

Scotland's Bill Millin, 81, Honored in Normandy and on Stamp

Audio will be available later today.

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Scotland's Bill Millin, 81, Honored in Normandy and on Stamp

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To mark the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, NPR's Fred Child has the story of Scotland's "Mad Piper" Bill Millin, who played on the beaches for his regiment on June 6, 1944.

Millin's brigadier that day, Lord Lovat, had specifically ignored the general order against bagpipers issued for 9,000 Scottish troops participating in the attack.

Millin held the bagpipes above his head in the waves, making it to the beach amid the chaos and mayhem. He managed to avoid mortars and machine gun fire to play "The Road to the Isles" and march at Lovat's request.

When two captured German snipers were later asked why they didn't shoot the piper, they replied that they thought he was crazy — hence Millin's nickname of "The Mad Piper."

Millin, now 81, will be honored in Normandy at 60th anniversary ceremonies and his pipes and uniform from D-Day are on permanent display in Edinburgh Castle. The Isle of Man has issued a commemorative stamp to honor Scotland's role in the invasion featuring an image depicting Millin playing his bagpipes during the battle.