AFTER 70 years, the beaches of Normandy will once again stir to the sound of the bagpipes played by a man called Millin.
A set of pipes made especially for the anniversary left Portsmouth yesterday played by John Millin, 59, from Nottingham.
John is the son of the legendary piper Bill Millin, who played on Sword Beach as bullets howled around him in the first wave of the D-Day landings.
John arrived in Portsmouth this week, having taken the pipes on a 1,000-mile ‘voyage of remembrance’ from Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, to Northern Ireland and back over to Liverpool.
From there he stopped at ports along the Welsh coast, around Cornwall and up the English Channel to Portsmouth.
He played the pipes at a veterans’ commemoration at the Historic Dockyard on Monday.
Treasurer and secretary of the charity D-Day Revisited, Victoria Phipps, said the pipes included an original piece of the instrument called a chanter, which was played by his father during the landings.
Ms Phipps said: ‘Piper Millin was the only piper there on D-Day, and he was there with the first wave as they landed.
‘He walked onto the beach under machine-gun fire to keep up the morale of the soldiers around him. His son’s voyage is inspired by that story.’
Piper Millin was armed with only a dirk sheathed in his right sock as he marched along the water’s edge playing his pipes to lift the spirits of the troops as they waded ashore.
John planned to play the pipes on the ferry journey over to France, where the first stop was the port of Ouistreham, next to Sword Beach.
The final act on the tribute voyage will be in the town of Colleville-Montgomery, near the landing beaches.
There, John will play the pipes a final time before a delegation of Normandy veterans present the instrument to the mayor of the town.