Piper famed for his heroism on D-Day dies at 88 in Dawlish
A PIPER who played his comrades ashore as they stormed the beaches of Normandy during the Second World War has died at his Devon home.
Bill Millin — known as Piper Bill — braved the bullets at Sword Beach with 1st Commando Brigade during the D-Day landings.
The Glaswegian, though unarmed, marched up and down the shore in his kilt piping Highland Laddie on June 6, 1944.
Bill said he "didn't notice" he was under fire from German forces and his bravery was later immortalised in the film The Longest Day.
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He had been living in a care home in Dawlish after suffering a major stroke seven years ago.
He died yesterday aged 88 and his funeral will be held privately followed at a later date by a service of remembrance.
A statement released by his family said he was an "icon of those who gave so much to free Europe from tyranny".
They said: "This morning, following a short illness, piper Bill Millin, a great Scottish hero, passed peacefully away in Torbay Hospital."
During D-Day his commanding officer, Lord Lovat, asked him to ignore instructions banning the playing of bagpipes in battle and requested he play to rally his comrades.
He continued to play as his friends fell around him and later moved inland to pipe the troops to Pegasus Bridge.
His bagpipes, which were silenced four days later by a piece of shrapnel, were handed over to the National War Museum of Scotland in 2001.
They also took possession of his kilt, commando beret and knife.
Despite suffering a stroke, Mr Millin continued to travel to France regularly.
Last year, Mr Millin was presented with a model of a statue that is to be built in his honour in France.
The life-size bronze statue is to be erected by the mayor and people of Colleville-Montgomery for his part in their liberation from the Germans.
At the time he said: "It is a good likeness. I was 21 then, very young. It is very good of the French to do this for me."
In 2006, when a song was written in his honour by Devon folk singer Sheelagh Allen, Mr Millin said: "I enjoyed playing the pipes, but I didn't notice I was being shot at. When you're young you do things you wouldn't dream of doing when you're older."