The Legendary Piper of D-Day: Bill Millin’s Story

Before we delve into the extraordinary legacy of Bill Millin, the “Mad Piper” of D-Day, we have a special invitation for our readers. Join us for an exclusive interview with John Millin, son of the legendary piper, as he shares intimate details of his father’s remarkable actions on that fateful day in Normandy.


And for those who appreciate the stirring sound of bagpipes, scroll down to see John’s live performance to remember the valour of not only his father but all who served. Don’t miss this captivating tribute to a hero who inspired all the troops around him.

The Unforgettable Sound of Courage

Throughout military history, there are countless stories of bravery, sacrifice, and resilience. Yet, among these tales, the story of Bill Millin stands out for its uniqueness and the sheer audacity of one man’s spirit amidst the chaos of war. Bill Millin, often referred to as the “Mad Piper,” played a pivotal role during World War II, not with a weapon, but with his bagpipes, on the beaches of Normandy.

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The Pipes of War

Serving under Lord Lovat, commander of the 1st Special Service Brigade, Millin found himself in a unique position. Despite the British Army’s ban on pipers leading soldiers into combat, Lord Lovat, adhering to Highland tradition, believed in the inspirational power of the bagpipes. And so, on D-Day, Millin landed on Sword Beach, tasked with an incredible mission: to play his pipes amidst the danger and chaos of the invasion.

Braving the Bullets with Bagpipes

As Millin strode up and down Sword Beach, his bagpipes rallied his comrades with tunes such as “Highland Laddie” and “The Road to the Isles,” undeterred by the hail of bullets and explosions around him. Remarkably, he emerged unscathed, with some captured German soldiers later admitting they spared him, believing him to be mad.

A Son’s Tribute: John Millin’s Exclusive Performance

John Millin performing live at Tower Mint

It’s with great privilege that we present this extraordinary tribute. To commemorate this special occasion, John has learned the melodies that his father played and that once echoed over the chaotic shores of Normandy. In a live performance, he honours his father’s bravery and courage.

Thank you, John. We dedicate the Beach Piper coin to the memory of your remarkable father.

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  1. Margaret Rowe on March 14, 2024 at 4:53 pm

    My father was in the Ox and Bucks parachute regiment and went in before the landings to take and hold the bridges.
    He told my mother, that there was a piper playing the bag pipes, the german prisoners of war, who my dad was guarding put their fingers to their forehead and twisted them, as if to say he was mad.
    I don’t know if this was the same piper, or if there was more.

  2. George Rankin on March 13, 2024 at 7:30 am

    My Dad landed on Sword beach with the 1st Battalion Black Watch. Must have witnessed this brave action which was also used in the desert after El Alemain

    • John mccambley on March 14, 2024 at 10:47 pm

      A true hero,thank you sir

  3. Kevin Chance on March 12, 2024 at 3:31 pm

    A truly great interview with John Millin, telling the story of his Dad.
    Thank you Westminstercollection for sharing this.

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