Awesome courage of the D-Day piper who the Nazis thought was mad

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Under the fire of Nazi guns and wading through a sea turning crimson with the blood of fallen colleagues, Bill Millin struggled towards the Normandy sands.

Waist deep in water, he led the commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade on to the beach as they fought to their deaths on the most famous day of World War II.
Amid the clatter of battle and dreadful cries of the injured, Millin only just caught the five words that turned him into a hero. 'Give us "Highland Laddie" man!' shouted Lord Lovat, the charismatic Chief of Clan Fraser and Brigadier of the 2,500 commandos, who was determined to put some backbone into his invading forces.

Obediently, 21-year-old Millin, Lovatt's personal piper, put the mouthpiece of his bagpipes to his lips, ignored the carnage and thundering crash of gunfire - and played as he had never played before.

It was 8.40 on June 6 1944, the morning of D-day. In the largest amphibious assault ever mounted, 150,000 troops from Britain, America and Canada were landing along a 60-mile stretch of the Normandy coastline.
D-day was the turning point in the Allies' battle against Hitler. And the name of Bill Millin, who died this week aged 88, is intrinsically linked with the events of that early summer's day. He is a reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of ordinary soldiers as they fought to protect this nation from the Nazis. He will live for ever in the annals of history....

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