What a memorable day in Normandy, today June 4, following the footsteps of D-Day piper Bill Millin!
First thing, after a lovely breakfast at our hotel, we drove over to “Sword Beach” where Bill Millin played the pipes for his fellow soldiers under heaviest possible enemy fire, way back in 1944! It was a very emotional experience this morning, standing on the same beach, with hundreds pipers and drummers, a ceremony so emotional indeed that one of the guys, whilst piping, was struck by a heart attack. An ambulance took the poor guy to hospital, and none of us has heard of him yet, we were all too busy piping all day.
From “Sword Beach” we moved on to Bénouville, playing as massed band at the Memorial, right in front of the original bridge, the one Bill Millin crossed, pipes up, under enemy fire! Of course we stepped onto that same bridge to play a tune … pictures are due to follow, as soon as possible.
This afternoon, we had a big parade through Caen, in front of thousands of people down in the streets, enjoying the music and the sight! Massed band again to finish it off, outside the huge town hall, in front of special guests Bill Millin’s son and his granddaughter!
Unfortunately, the same problem occurred again, same as this morning, too many pipers not knowing the tunes, nor how to end with a clean stop! What a shame, the level some people are playing at, completely unaware they just ruin a whole performance! You don’t become a piper by just putting on a kilt!
We finally had a last, more or less improvised performance this evening in the medieval castle in Caen, an absolutely amazing site!
So, after a very long day, filled with strong impressions, it’s about time to get a couple of hours of sleep, before heading back home to Luxembourg, first thing tomorrow morning!
Finally, special thanks go to my fellowpiper Linda, who did amazingly well, on Sword Beach, in front of Pegasus Bridge, and in the streets of Caen. Can you imagine, she started on the pratice chanter only eight months ago! Great job, Linda, I’m proud of you.
And to finish of, let me thank Bob Mathieson and the people at “Kiltcentre” in Hamilton, Scotland … today was the first time I was wearing my new Lionheart kilt. You wouldn’t imagine how many people here in Caen, pipers and spectators asked me what tartan Linda and I are wearing, and where we purchased our beautiful kilts! (www.thekiltcentre.com)
I’ll put the pictures on, once back home … you’ll find out for yourselves.