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August 21, 2010

That's the spirit

God rest Bill Millin, a Scottish bagpiper who played highland tunes as his fellow commandos landed at Normandy.

The young piper was approached shortly before the landings by the brigade’s commanding officer, Brig. Simon Fraser, who as the 15th Lord Lovat was the hereditary chief of the Clan Fraser and one of Scotland’s most celebrated aristocrats. Against orders from World War I that forbade playing bagpipes on the battlefield because of the high risk of attracting enemy fire, Lord Lovat, then 32, asked Private Millin to play on the beachhead to raise morale.

When Private Millin demurred, citing the regulations, he recalled later, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.”

The only way out is through.

But first men must remember that they are men.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 21, 2010 10:47 AM


Taking matters into his own hands to suit the immediate situation regardless of the dictates of standard procedures was not uncommon for Lord Lovat. He was in command of No. 4 Commando when it participated in the Dieppe Raid, being responsible for destroying German artillery east of the landing. After a flawless attack, which resulted in the complete destruction of the guns and included the use of bayonets on the terrified gunners, Lovat ordered the entire compound to be put to the torch, an act tracing its roots to Scottish clan warfare and contrary to British Army protocols at the time he gave the order. He meant for the Germans to be supremely aware of who had destroyed their men and materiel.

Posted by: soirish [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 21, 2010 02:18 PM