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"D-Day Piper - Bill Millin " Topic

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TexasRanger25 Jul 2006 12:57 a.m. PST

Hi All,

I know it's not really a miniatures matter, more historical, but it may still be of interest to someone. Some of you may have seen my previous links on Lord Lovat. I have spent a fantastic year researching his late great lordship, reading much resource material, interviewing old commandos and finding evidence in the most unlikely places. It's funny how a miniature can change your life – thank you to Artizan for making that beautiful WW2 Lovat figure (even if it is based on the Hollywood Lovat, he didn't wear a sweater on D-Day, polar neck or not).

Anyway, in my research I came across evidence that goes against 99% of all the details published on Bill Millin (Lovats bagpiper) on the web. Bill millin did NOT play himself in the film The Longest Day, yet everyone, just like Chinese whispers, has passed on this information including BBC, Telegraph, Times, all the online encyclopedias and even the IMBD film website etc…

The piper who actually played Bill Millin in the film was Pipe-Major Leslie de Laspee. In 1961 he was the offical piper of the late Queen Mother. In a newspaper article in the Daily Mail 6th September 1961 de Laspee and Lord Lovat are pictured at 'Pegasus' bridge, with Peter Lawford and Daryl Zanuck discussing the making of the film. Lovat was asked why the real Bill Millin didn't play himself in film and he replies "My old piper works in a bar in Glasgow now, I believe, and is too fat to play the part"

So why the post? Basically I am trying to get across the message that Bill Millin has been continually and incorrectly credited with the role but he was never in the film The Longest Day. We should also recognise and give credit to the real 'actor/piper' Leslie de Laspee who, if you do a search on the web, has never been credited with his part in such an excellent if flawed film.

I am not trying to take anything away from the real Bill, his actions on D-Day speaks for themselves, I'm just trying to clear muddied waters.

Seeking out the truth.

Texas Ranger (UK)

Plynkes25 Jul 2006 2:05 a.m. PST

Well I never knew that.

When I was a little tot I met Bill Millin several times. So I know what he looks like, and still I believed that it was him in the film, just because that's what I was told!

Hell, maybe it was Pipe-Major Leslie de Laspee that I met at Pegasus Bridge all those times! Perhaps he made a career out of Millin impersonating? And what if the John Howard that was there at Cafe Gondrée was really Richard Todd?

I'm not sure of anything any more…

Clampett25 Jul 2006 6:43 a.m. PST

"I'm not sure of anything any more…"

I was struck by a thought a while ago, that while it may seem blindingly obvious, we tend not to really think about it. And it concerned D-Day.

Despite all of the movies, TV documentaries and books we've watched and read, and all the times we've recreated D-Day with board and miniature wargames, the fact is that it only happened once. That's it. All of the above mentioned books, movies and documentaries describe the same event. In the Mortain offensive of August, 1944, for example, books published prior to 1974 say that American reinforcements just happened to be in the right place at the right time, while those written later reveal that Bradley was acting on Ultra intelligence.

You tend to think, when you read the older histories, "Oh, that was what happened in the pre-70's D-Day." You may forget that all the books are describing the same event.

No, for your information I'm not holding a bong! :)

Tommy2025 Jul 2006 7:49 a.m. PST

Polynikes: "And what if the John Howard that was there at Cafe Gondrée was really Richard Todd?"

Well, whichever one it was, at least he was there on 6/6/44!

(Unless that story is a myth as well…)

shadow king25 Jul 2006 9:35 a.m. PST

Strange, to me it seemed like attendance was down. I noiced that a number of nearby motels still have vacancy signs during Historicon which I have never seen before. Having said that the gaming rooms did seem more crowded than ever before while the dealer rooms seemed less attended than ever before.

Tommy2025 Jul 2006 1:03 p.m. PST

Is it me, or has the bug gotten worse lately?

Plynkes25 Jul 2006 1:10 p.m. PST

The Kids from Degrassi Street. And, to a lesser extent, Degrassi Junior High.

Plynkes25 Jul 2006 1:10 p.m. PST

Um, yes, Flintloque old thing, I believe it has…

GUNBOAT25 Jul 2006 2:02 p.m. PST

Texas Ranger hows the book coming then will it be ready for Warfare 2006 in Reading

Clampett26 Jul 2006 6:18 a.m. PST

I remember a few years ago I saw the scene from "The Longest Day" where Lord Lovat relieves Howard at the bridge, only filmed at a distance and in colour by some industry person with a shaky home movie camera. It seemed more like the real thing than the actual completed scene from the movie.

Warwick Castle26 Jul 2006 1:08 p.m. PST

I was fortunate to Meet John Howard at Pegasus bridge in 1991, He was kind enough to sign the small book I bought, Red Berets into Normandy, I still havle it. The bridge has been moved now so future visitors will never see where it actually all happened. a great shame.
Major John Howards life

TexasRanger27 Jul 2006 2:08 p.m. PST

It is with some sadness that I discovered today that Terence Otway DSO died on Sunday 23rd July 2006. May he rest in peace.

He commanded The 9th Battalion Parachute Battalion and assaulted the guns at Merville on D-Day and then fought with his paras alongside the Commandos in and around Amfreville/Breville/Ranville June/July 1944.

Sadly there are not many left who fought in the Orne bridgehead now, I've probably chosen the wrong time to research Lovat. I know Bill Millin is still alive but I have chosen not disturb him as he suffered a serious stroke last year which has effected him severely and he is now wheelchair bound.

PaulTimms27 Jul 2006 9:56 p.m. PST

As i slight aside i have a newspaper article from the 80's on Bill when he was in France again. It was collected by my Father in Law who remebered (his words ) seeing someone playing the pipes on D Day.

TexasRanger03 Aug 2006 3:52 p.m. PST

Going against my previous posting I recently got the nerve up to phone Bill Millins nursing home and in doing so I visited him yesterday and spent over two glorious hours discussing his life and that of Lord Lovat. He answered all my questions with amazing recall. One of my questions was; 'Were you ever in the film The Longest Day?' His reply 'No, I never was'

Case closed.

piper90904 Aug 2006 2:57 p.m. PST

I find this fascinating, as someone who has researched Piper Millin myself (altho not to the extent TexasRanger has), being myself a piper and curious to know more about the D-Day piper. I always wondered why the movie version of Millin looked so different from all the photos of the REAL Millin I'd seen. Thanks for posting the information, TR. Something else I've been unable to discover, even from Millin's own memoirs (which I have in both French and English-language editions), is what exact tartan did he wear on D-Day? Did you ask him about that? I've read mention of his donning a kilt for the landing (something also not recreated accurately in film or for the collectible miniature figure) but never seen a photo or read a description of this. Did you ask, or could you in the future?

At one time there was a display of Millin's D-Day pipes and other memorabilia on exhibit at the Scottish United Services Museum in Edinburgh, but this has since been removed due to qustions on its authenticity; there was also said to be a display in a French museum near the invasion beaches. What can you tell us about these issues?

piper90904 Aug 2006 3:00 p.m. PST

PS: I am personally very sorry to learn of Piper Millin's condition and please express to him best wishes for a return to health from his brother pipers throughout the world. "We Will Take the Good Old Way."

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2006 3:03 p.m. PST

"what exact tartan did he wear on D-Day"

Isn't it traditional for pipers to wear the Stuart hunting tartan?

TexasRanger04 Aug 2006 4:16 p.m. PST

I had asked Bill that very question. The kilt he wore on D-Day was of the Cameron clan. It had belonged to his father and if you wish to see it, it now has pride of place, along with his famous bagpipes, in the Dawlish museum in Devon (Bill uses his motorised wheelchair to visit them daily).

He had originally given the pipes and kilt to the military museum in Edinburgh but they said that his 'D-Day' pipes were already in the Pegasus bridge museum in France and so would not accept them. Bill was quite adamant (and I found even at his age and health, his mind and recall is quite sharp) that the bagpipes he gave to the Pegasus bridge museum were a set he used later in war from Normandy to River Seine. The original pipes, damaged in the fighting around Amfreville, he always kept himself. However, following the death of his wife, and because of his stroke, he had to move into a retirement home and decided to give them to the nation.

Without giving too much away from my future book/website. Bill landed at Sword beach in kilt only armed with dirk and his pipes (in the film The Longest Day he is shown in trousers and carrying a sten gun ?? – all WRONG – Bill said film was pure hokum, after all it showed Lovat wearing a white jumper which he never did – it was great to have Bill confirm something that I had always suspect!). Anyway, Bill marched inland, playing the pipes on and off until he reached the Benoville bridge (now called the Pegasus bridge). He DID NOT, as often thought, play as he crossed the first bridge (Pegasus), there was too much sniper fire. Lovat well aware of the historical significance of this moment was somewhat annoyed (read Lovat's and Bill's authobiographies) and ordered Bill to the front of the unit telling him to play and march until they got across the second bridge (now called the Horsa bridge). After crossing the second bridge the Commandos rested at the btom of the hill and Bill said he took this time to change out of his kilt and into his battledress trousers.

Hope this helps.

piper90906 Aug 2006 8:57 a.m. PST

Thanks for the updates — I have long been wanting to nail this down specifically. There are several different Cameron tartans. The Cameron of Erracht tartan is even worn in the military (the Cameron Highlanders), and saw some wear in WWII by both the Camerons and some Commando units. What is called commonly the Cameron clan tartan is a different sett entirely, worn primarily by civilians. Very useful to know when making or painting miniature figures!

In the film, too, the piping was plainly dubbed in afterward (possibly played by PM De Laspee?). Not only is there a mismatch between the actor's movements and the music, as any piper can tell, what is played is NOT the tune requested by "Lord Lovat"!

TexasRanger06 Aug 2006 11:32 a.m. PST

Sorry Piper909,

Not being Scottish I must apologise. When I asked Bill the question I was unsure it had multi-pronged answer, I just accepted the answer 'Cameron' and moved on, – (he must of thought I was just some dumb sassanack). I'll ask him to clarify if I speak to him again.

Texas Ranger
(Reading, UK)

P.S. Piper909 I love the picture you've posted of yourself – I didn't know banana's were part of the regimental dress for the Scots guards!)

piper90907 Aug 2006 9:14 a.m. PST

Hola, TX Ranger! Nothing "dumb" about it, that's a very esoteric question. I suspect when Piper Millin says "clan Cameron" tartan it's to make the distinction between the military cameron tartan and the others. But sometimes these subtleties get lost in translation (as in the French edition of his memoirs) or garbled by journalists. I note that the French edition cover painting shows what seems to be the clan cameron kilt being worn by Millin, too, presumably based by the artist on Millinm's descriptions. I have always wanted to double-check this point, however, since wearing a non-military tartan would be very unusual and I thought that Millin's father might have also served in the army and therefore his kilt could have been the Cameron of Erracht sett.

Before everyone else yawns too deeply, I will note in defense of persnicketiness that Military Modelling or some such magazine once printed a new painting of the 79th Cameron Highlanders in the Sudan in the 1890s and they were shown in clan Cameron tartan kilts — very, very wrong, the result of an artist making assumptions based on faulty research. And at least one military uniform book I have shows the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders wearing the clan Sutherland tartan and not the Government/Black Watch sett they truly wore. It's not safe to get too literal about tartans!

Austin, Texas

PS: Tex, I swear those bananas were authorized for foreign service dress in some drunken colonel's warrant c. 1882…

sedna100013 Aug 2006 5:02 a.m. PST

The Cameron tartan he wore was Cameron of Erracht. In his book 'Invasion', Millin mentions "wearing Lochiel's tartan" – referring to Colonel Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel, K.T., C.M.G., who was the honorary Colonel of the 5th Battalion of the Camerons. In his book, Millin also mentions wearing the tartan on his shoulders and behind his Cameron cap badge.

sedna100013 Aug 2006 5:03 a.m. PST

Also, in 'Invasion', a nice pic of Piper Bill wearing the Commando beret and the Cameron badge. Although the personal piper to Lord Lovat, Millin was still a Cameron.

piper90913 Aug 2006 3:11 p.m. PST

OK, this only makes the issue MORE confusing — because there is also a "Cameron of Lochiel" tartan and it is different from clan Cameron AND Cameron of Erracht.

I am about to throw up my hands in surrender on this topic. Someone needs to go check out that museum in France and send us a photograph!

TexasRanger13 Aug 2006 4:04 p.m. PST

The Museum is in Dawlish, Devon, that's in England not France. Trouble is it's about 240 mile round trip for me, sorry.

I did however find an article about Lochiel Cameron Tartan:

Cameron of Lochiel: This red and blue tartan is similar to that worn by the 18th Chief, Donald "The Gentle Lochiel" Cameron in a portrait hanging at Achnacarry. It was first illustrated in 1810 in Wilson's Collection. This is the personal tartan of the Chief and his immediate family; as a rule it should not be worn by clansfolk.

Is Bill immediate family? (a new round of questions is already piling up).

sedna100014 Aug 2006 1:28 a.m. PST

The tartan was definitely the Regimental sett (Erracht) – as honorary Colonel of the 5th Battalion, Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel, K.T., C.M.G. himself wore the Erracht tartan (nice pic of him in the 'Historical Records of the Cameron Highlanders, Vol. VI' wearing kilt and plaid in the Regimental sett).


TexasRanger15 Aug 2006 9:32 a.m. PST

And you all thought this was over!!

Right. I telephoned Bill Millin today and discussed what he actually wore on D-Day. His reply was quite detailled. On his feet were normal army issue boots. Then long khaki green socks with no tartan tabs, just simply all basic army green. He wore his fathers kilt, which is a World War One 'army issue' Cameron tartan kilt. When I asked him to clarify whether it was Erracht or Lochiel he said 'Neither', he just kept saying it was an special 'ARMY ISSUE' Cameron tartan (??). Bill then said something interesting – 'Lovat had asked me to wear Fraser tartan, which I would have done out of respect, but he also insisted I pay for the new kilt, which I didn't have the money for' (I don't want anyone saying typical Scot here!). Bill also wore an army issue battledress jacket with combined operations patches on both shoulders. He had Cameron flashes for the shoulders but prior to setting off from camp to the waiting landing craft, in Southampton, he had removed these. The bagpipes were Bills own pipes, but they were covered, out of respect to Lord Lovat, in the hunting Fraser tartan. On his head he wore a green beret, with NO cap badge. Bill said no cap badges were worn by the Commando's under Lovats HQ on D-Day. He said even Lord Lovat had removed his cap badge. However, a few days after D-Day he was allowed to put his cap badge on the beret. The badge (both he and Lord Lovat wore same badge) was that of the Fraser clan: 'Je Suis Prest' (similar to Lovats Scouts badge, Stag and all … but with the words 'Je Suis Prest' instead of wording Lovats Scouts). There was no tartan behind the badge.

Check out the embroidery in the Portsmouth D-Day museum – when it was displayed orginally it created quite a stir because the artist noticed 'Lovat and Bill looking glum' upon seeing it. She had got the representation of Bill Millin playing his pipes all wrong. They explained that it showed Bill wrongly wearing a helmet (he was VERY proud of his green beret), also the bagpipe shape was all wrong, and it showed the bagpipes as being plain biege similar to Irish pipe covers. Lovat personally sent a copy of his hunting Fraser to the artist to get it put right. Bills 'head' was removed and a new one portraying a beret with cap badge was put in it's place. Bill now says it shows him pretty much as he looked a few days afer D-Day.

piper90915 Aug 2006 2:44 p.m. PST

Most fascinating stuff there — thanks for collecting even more information! It's a shame we don't seem to have any other eyewitness descriptions of Millin's D-Day uniform (do we?) or any other photos other than that one that shows Millin's upper back and head and a part of his pipe drones, while he was still on the landing craft (do we?) Why didn't that photographer take another shot after Millin hit the beach?

TexasRanger16 Aug 2006 12:28 a.m. PST

Alas the famous head and shoulders shot of Piper Millin is the only photographic evidence avaliable of him on D-Day – not because no one took any pictures, many WERE taken, but all were subsequently lost. You should read Ian Grants book: Cameramen At War. The Commandos did have their own film unit with them on D-Day and afterwards. But as the cameramen only had hand held movie cameras they ran out of film quite quickly and it was a constant process of change film change film. They would then pass that film onto soldiers/sailors heading back for the beaches or England to get them processed quickly.

There was even a movie taken of Lovat and Bill Millin as they marched inland and approached the bridge at Benouville (described in detail in the book) – The cameraman knowing the importance of this film gave it to a dispatch rider along with £5.00 GBP note and told him to look after it and get it back to England a.s.a.p. Alas the film and rider were never heard of again. The Imperial War Museum (UK) keeps all WW2 film stock but have no record of the film (what a fantastic find that would be if it was discovered).

Later during the fighting around Amfreville and Breville a mass of film was taken of the Commando's and Paras actions, however it was all stored in one place, with 6 Commando at the Saulinier Farm. During one particular heavy German bombardment the storage room in the barn was completely destroyed and with it went all the Commando film stock. That is why there is almost no film of the Commandos in Normandy.

(Texas Ranger, UK)

piper90916 Aug 2006 2:28 p.m. PST

What a sad tale.

I had not heard of that book before — sounds worth seeking out!

sedna100016 Aug 2006 6:26 p.m. PST

Here's yet another question, which Fraser Hunting Tartan? Here's a photo of the his pipes that are in the Memorial Pegasus in Normandy:
I also have a few more close ups from the curator there if anyone would like to help in identifying the exact tartan pattern (remember the bagpipe cover is faded). Email me at if you want a few more pics.

I would think that the 'ARMY ISSUE' Cameron tartan, would be just that, the Regimental sett, the Erracht:

Fraser Lovat's Badge:

The boots would be the issue Ammo Boots, worn with either a pair of gaiters w/ 2 buckles or a pair of wool puttees.


sedna100016 Aug 2006 6:31 p.m. PST

The panel on the embroidery:

piper90917 Aug 2006 12:42 p.m. PST

I'll have to look up that pipe bag cover sett in my tartan books at home — it isn't any of the Cameron tartans discussed above, that's for sure, and it's not the clan Fraser tartan either.

Great to see a pic of one of Millin's set of pipes at last!

piper90917 Aug 2006 12:48 p.m. PST

Oh, and another thing that gets confused is the distinction between dirk and dagger — Scottish dirks are a traditional part of the piper's dress uniform, but the commandos carried a distinctive dagger, and references to Millin sometimes refer to both "dirk" and "dagger" — this Pegasus Museum picture shows clearly a commando dagger, not a Scottish dirk.

TexasRanger17 Aug 2006 2:22 p.m. PST

Piper909, why are you looking for Cameron tartan for the D-Day bagpipe cover?? (Cameron is the kilt!) The bagpipes were defintely Hunting Fraser!!

Right, cards on the table – I think I have enough information to prove, beyond any resaonable doubt, that the bagpipes used on D-Day are covered in Hunting Fraser tartan. Firstly I have five books that stipulate such, I have further information from the Portsmouth D-Day museum regarding the D-Day embroidery that states such, we also have further conformation from the Dawlish museum (where the 'orginal bagpipes' currently are). AND finally we have the word of the ACTUAL piper himself, Bill Millin.

The picture of the pipes given above by Sedna, are those in the Pegasus bridge museum and I think they show a somewhat faded Ancient or muted Hunting Fraser (but where's the blue?). Boy, tartans are proving really difficult!!

Here's a link for Hunting Fraser tartan:


GUNBOAT18 Aug 2006 9:28 a.m. PST

TexesRanger you are dead right i also have the same info on the bagpipes well done you put a lot of work in to this when will the book be out ?

sedna100019 Aug 2006 2:33 a.m. PST

I don't know, the sett on the bag cover is very wide, the repeat is something like: dark line, dark line, space, lighter line, lighter line, space, dark line, dark line (like the first), space, then it looks like two thin light lines, one light line, two more thin light lines, space, and then it's repeated. It's odd to me, seeing as my surname is Fraser and I have a number of books with the various tartans in them, but I can't find one likethat. I wish someone could get a photo of the pipes that are in the Dawlish museum, I have contacted Liz Botterill, Admin. Dawlish Museum ( if anyone else wants to try), but she for some is very evasive about sending me a pic or two.


piper90921 Aug 2006 7:00 a.m. PST

Thanks for the additional pictures, Brian. I've studied them a great deal and consulted my library, and like you, I am puzzled at the tartan on the bag cover. It doesn't match any of the Fraser or Cameron tartans I can find — and I don't mean the colors, which as you say have faded over time and are not reliable indicators, but the patterns just don't match up with anything I have checked that seems a logical choice. Perhaps the sett sold as Hunting Fraser was different in the 1940s. (These things do happen, mills are sometimes variable on their weaves or their designations. Even recently I was given a sample of an obscure tartan that did not match the pictures I have in books.) I note, to further the confusion, that there is a reference to a Mackenzie tartan in the French-language edition of his memoirs. Help!

I wish someone would take some pictures now of the museum display in Dawlish, of the D-day pipes and the kilt. And did Millin don a sporran? This affair may never be settled completely.\

sedna100023 Aug 2006 3:27 p.m. PST

I recently contacted the Director of Operations of the Scottish Tartans Authority, Brian Wilton, and he explained it to me. The bagpipes cover on those pipes is the MacKenzie Tartan, used by the Seaforth Highlanders. Mr. Wilton says the following in his e-mail:

"The tartan is actually the MacKenzie but we can't immediately find out why it should be so. It may be that Bill Millen was originally in the Seaforth Highlanders whose tartan that was. This is an excellent example of a brightly coloured tartan fading to such an extent that the black becomes light brown and totally distorts the overall look of the tartan."

sedna100023 Aug 2006 3:28 p.m. PST

I recently contacted the Director of Operations of the Scottish Tartans Authority, Brian Wilton, and he explained it to me. The bagpipes cover on those pipes is the MacKenzie Tartan, used by the Seaforth Highlanders. Mr. Wilton says the following in his e-mail:

"The tartan is actually the MacKenzie but we can't immediately find out why it should be so. It may be that Bill Millen was originally in the Seaforth Highlanders whose tartan that was. This is an excellent example of a brightly coloured tartan fading to such an extent that the black becomes light brown and totally distorts the overall look of the tartan."

Well, now what about those pipes in Dawlish…

sedna100025 Aug 2006 3:58 a.m. PST

Does anyone have any information on Mr. Millin's military records before or after D-Day? Was he a member of the Seaforth Highlanders at one point? How long was he Lovat's Piper? Did he stay with the 1st Special Service Brigade after Lovat was injured on June 12? Did he see any other action before or after D-Day?
It seems like the more I look into him the more I don't know.

Silvertip14 Dec 2006 2:10 p.m. PST

Hello Texas Ranger,
I am involved with another semi-related forum where the question concerns what rifle Lord Lovat was carrying on D-Day and at Dieppe. Considerable confusion abounds and it is due to the rumor/legend that he was carrying some type of Winchester hunting rifle at either Dieppe or the Sword Beach landing. The photos from the Imperial War Museum although showing part of the rifle are not conclusive. Further, there is some supported evidence that he was carrying a US made Garand rifle on D-Day which may well have been made by Winchester and so marked. Can you shed any light on this – it would be greatly appreciated?

Silvertip14 Dec 2006 2:33 p.m. PST

Texas Ranger -
I have now read your posts on Lord Lovat and we are in total agreement that LL carried a Garand at D-Day so I am therefore modifying and narrowing the question to just what sort of Winchester hunting rifle he carried at the Dieppe raid? If you could determine that it was a lever action Winchester that would partly suffice. I would offer that only one of the Winchester lever action rifles was made in calibre .303 British – the Model of 1895. That would seem to fit nicely but I don't want to cloud the already very muddy waters.

TexasRanger15 Dec 2006 4:13 a.m. PST


Can you email me to discuss Lovats guns. I have yet another twist in the Lovat gun scenario. Lovats gun were recently auctioned in London. These included Dieppe and D-Day pistols and a 'rifle' – NOT a Winchester!!??

One thing I've learnt over the past year is 'Don't research Lovat', it'll drive you insane !! – for every answer you get that he did this or wore that, you get another witness who said he did or didn't wear or do that!! But seriously it is fascinating doing research on a character like this and I have, and still do, enjoy finding out as much as I can about him. I have already laid to bed quite a few anomalies but still the white jumper haunts me. I believe he wore a white 'sweater' in Normandy, as he did on Bolougne and Dieppe raid but it was UNDER his battledress!! Many people state as he approached the Benouville canal (Pegasus) bridge he wore a white jumper openly (did he take off his jacket at some time? Did he have white sweater on Sword beach?) How come until the film Longest Day 1962 came out no one thought to mention this in their writings about Lovat/Commandos and/or Paras – in fact in the Cornelius Ryan book (The Longest Day) there is no mention of a white jumper!! At the end of the day I will just have to weigh up claims against facts. Having said that I have just found a blurry picture of supposedly Lovat in a White sweater in Normandy !!!!!!(it shows his rifle too but no way can you identify it's make). Email me and I will send details of rifle and otherwise.

Steve (UK)

CommanderT13 Feb 2007 10:34 a.m. PST

Researching Bill Millin I came across this discussion and found it interesting. My vocation is teacher but my hobbies are gunsmithing and sculpture. I'm interested in making a 1:6 scale figure sculpture of Bill Millin as he appeared on June 6, 1944. Any information on photos and verifiable written discriptions would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to email me:

Now I'm struck with the idea of making one of Lord Lovat.

Oh, I was in Normandy for D-day +60 years. Millin wasn't there, he was too ill. I was with a group of WW2 living history folks who portray 4 Commando; we marched from Sword Beach to Pegasus Bridge. It was an amazing experience. There were HUNDEREDS of WW2 vets there, British, French, American, even German. I was lucky enough to meet, listen to, ask questions, and collect autographs from many of them, even Sir Richard Todd.

Oh, the real bridge IS still there, it's just been moved a few meters away to the grounds of the new museum. The bridge over the canal is a replica of the original. I did get to walk on the original, it still has a lot of battle damage.

Regarding the movie, 'The Longest Day', I've always wondered when watching the movie…just what was the rifle Lawford was carrying?

piper90924 Jun 2014 12:12 p.m. PST

This is perhaps the main thread for the Bill Millin archive, so I'm posting here, after a gap of many years, my recently completed figure of Piper Millin in 28mm (figure from Warlord Games, part of a pack with Lord Lovat and one other, with Millin in two sections so you can complete him in either kilt or battledress trousers). I began painting this figure on the D-Day anniversary, fittingly enough.



I did the best I could from what is scuplted and the inherently contradictory information (above). There are two sets of bagpipes displayed in museums in England and France, with slightly different mountings (one is a half-silver/nickel and ivory set, the one in England is all ivory) and with different bag covers, which may or may not be the originals. I tried to duplicate the Hunting Fraser tartan here, although it's a very difficult sett to reproduce. It may also have been in an Ancient or muted color scheme. At least there's not much to see! I'm not sure why a MacKenzie tartan would have been used on the D-Day pipes, altho it could have been what was issued from stores when Millin received a new set after D-Day (his D-Day pipes suffered damage in the days afterward, as he has related in his memoirs). Drone cords are in dark green.

I have also decided to depict Millin in the Cameron of Erracht tartan, which was the sett used by the Cameron Highlanders, in view of the claims that he wore his father's legacy kilt from WWI, which seems logical. It's a pity there is so much confusion on this issue. A kilt in the Dawlish museum shows a kilt in the Cameron of Lochiel tartan, quite different, and this has been also used for various paintings. But this was not an army issue tartan and I don't recall Millin indicating he bought or was provided a new kilt for the event -- in fact, he has noted that Lovat wanted him to wear a Fraser tartan but wouldn't pay the costs so Millin declined that request. So where would a Cameron of Lochiel kilt have come from? I wonder if this is a post facto garment. Military kilts were made from an extra-heavyweight wool you don't see in civilian kilts, so a close inspection of the museum kilt would maybe settle this question. Plus there would be government markings on the lining. I once owned a genuine Cameron Highlanders kilt and it was like a horse blanket, felt bullet-proof (very comfortable to wear, tho, if hot for Texas).

It does not seem that Piper Millin wore a sporran, altho' he is shown as wearing one in some paintings and on the memorial sculpture now on Sword beach. I don't believe he indicated such, and they were not usually worn in combat at this time or issued to troops as combat dress. You do see honor guards, bands, and officers wearing sporrans of various types during WWII but these seem to have been privately acquired or drawn from hoarded regimental stores.

The miniature does not show a pistol, dirk, or dagger being worn. Millin wears the Commando beret but no badge and no other insignia. Standard khaki hose and half-gaiters, with scarlet garter flashes. Oh, and he's been posed with one foot on a steel helmet for some dramatic reason.

Jerbat12324 Jun 2014 2:39 p.m. PST

Holy necromancy batman!
Looks like a great sculpt from "Warlord Games"
And I think you nailed the tartan colors and figure!

Very nicely done!

piper90903 Jul 2014 10:20 p.m. PST


The best I could do. I realize that military kilts are pleated to stripe, not sett, but if you paint this on most minis, it looks weird. Out of proportion. So apologies to all those who would say, "That Cameron Highlanders kilt should show more of the yellow overstripe on the rear pleats!"

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