War Pipers Tales

 Suddenly the air was split by a piercing sound of bagpipes. Along the beach, some hundred yards away, a piper was marching up and down. There was Piper Bill Millin filling his bag up and getting his wind. Lord Lovat had asked him to play a few tunes. Lord Lovat came up behind Bill, formed up his troops and they marched off in parade ground style, straight up to the village of Colleville. It was amazing. How could he have the pipes on the beach amidst all this battle noise? Shells screaming and fire all around. And silently, as the sound of the pipes died away into the hinterland of the beach, we got back to work bringing the landing craft in. That was a real high point in the whole landing. – Able Seaman Ken Oakley, Royal Navy Commando – Sword Beach, D-Day 1944.

‘Give us a tune, piper!’ ‘What tune would you like, sir?’ I asked. ‘Play “The Road to the Isles”,’ he said. ‘Would you like me to march up and down?’ ‘Yes,yes! March up and down! That would be lovely!’ So, there I was, going backwards and forwards, piping away when I felt a hand on my shoulder and it was this sergeant I recognised and he said, ‘What are you playing at, you mad bastard? Every German in France knows we’re here now!’

Sergeant Bill Millin, Piper, First Commando Brigade Sword beach D-Day 1944