Jed pipers play their part in D-Day commemorations

Jedburgh Royal British Legion Scotland Pipe Band were in Normandy to commemorate the D-Day landings.
Jedburgh Royal British Legion Scotland Pipe Band were in Normandy to commemorate the D-Day landings.

Jedburgh Royal British Legion Scotland Pipe Band were in Normandy to commemorate the D-Day landings.

A busy few days began with the musicians heading to St Mere Eglise where a large crowd gathered to watch the band play in the town square, adjacent to the church where an effigy remains of US paratrooper John Steele who – on the night of June 5, 1944 – landed on the spire.

This was followed by an afternoon visit to the Pointe du Hoc monument which overlooks Omaha Beach and remembers the US Rangers who scaled the cliffs on June 6, 1944, in order to seize German artillery.

The following day the band attended Bayeux British military cemetery, the largest Second World War Commonwealth cemetery in France.

Alongside former services personnel and the Band of Liberation from the Netherlands, the Borderers participated in a Royal British Legion memorial service to remember fallen Commonwealth soldiers. Tribute was paid to Bill Millin – The D-Day Piper – in the evening.

Together with pipers and drummers from various nations, a parade was led along the beach front at Colleville Montgomery in honour of the fallen on Sword Beach at the Commando Memorial and then onto the Bill Millin statue where a memorial service was held.

The Jedburgh pipers were back at Colleville Montgomery the following morning for a ceremony with D-Day Revisited, a charity which gives veterans the opportunity to make the journey back to Normandy to remember their fallen comrades.

Drum Major Brian Scott led the parade from the edge of Sword Beach, with veterans marching behind the band onto the plaza at the foot of the Bill Millin Statue.

Tributes were paid by several of the veterans and John Millin, son of Bill, to those who did not return home.

A few rapturous tunes from the pipe band, concluding the ceremony with “Auld Lang Syne”, had the veterans swinging along – and, of course, whisky from Pipe Major Tosh MacDonald’s hip flask went down well too!

Returning to Benouville with a visit to the Pegasus Bridge Museum, a warm welcome was received from the museum manager.

The band played on the original Pegasus Bridge, placed in the grounds of the museum, to groups of onlookers who stumbled upon the impromptu performance.

The was followed by a visit to Ranville cemetery in the evening to pay respects to a Jedburgh man who was killed in action in Normandy on June 7, 1944 – Lieutenant Thomas C. Halliburton. A verse and chorus of “Brave Lads O’ Jethart” was sung by the band at his graveside.

The visit finished off at Pegasus Bridge for a drink at Les Trois Planeurs cafe bar and more spontaneous parades across the bridge to appreciative audiences.