WWII

D-Day Piper: Meet The Soldier Honouring The Legend Of 'Mad Bill'

Meet the Piper Major who will be stepping into Mad Bill's shoes as he plays the bagpipes on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

A Piper Major from 19th Regiment Royal Artillery will begin the D-Day commemorations in Normandy.

At 06:26 BST on 6 June, marking the exact moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach, Trevor Macey-Lillie will play “Highland Laddie” on the bagpipes on one of the Mulberry harbours in Arromanches-les-Bains.

He says it is a tribute to piper Bill Millin, who played the tune on Normandy’s beaches as British troops went ashore.

Piper Major Macey-Lillie said Private Millin was "a brave man":

"He didn't have a weapon, the only item he had was a knife in his sock along with his bagpipes."

Private Millin marched up and down Sword Beach playing "Highland Laddie" during the Second World War's bloodiest battle. The Piper Major added:

"He never got shot because the Germans thought he had lost his mind running up and down the beach."

The piper is now widely known as 'Mad Bill Millin'.

D-Day piper Bill Millin plays his bagpipes at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland 160101 CREDIT PA
Bill Millin playing his bagpipes at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland in 2001 (Picture: PA).

Private Millin had left Sandyhills near Glasgow to join the Highland Light Infantry, Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, No. 4 Commando.

On 6 June 1944, the 21-year-old had been ordered to play against the wishes of the top brass.

He was the personal piper to Lord Lovat - who, despite there being a ban on pipers being allowed on the frontline, defied the War Office's orders and brought him to Sword Beach.

Pipers were banned from being on the frontline during the Second World War because of the number of casualties seen during the Great War.

The enemy figured out that the piper helped boost morale to the Allied troops, and they were slaughtered because of this.

This led the War Office to restrict their presence in camps as well as on the frontline.

Piper Major Macey-Lillie looked onto his performance on the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, saying:

"I'll have a wee lump in my throat but it will be a good experience."

For more on D-Day 75, click here.