Bill McCarthy wrote:I don’t care what anyone says, but to a Scotsman there is a something in bagpipe music that gives a helluva lift to the heart and can stir you to go through anything. I have watched the “World at War” umpteen times now above anything else, and especially the Normandy landing scenes and wondered how the hell they did it. Perhaps the stirring skirl o’ the pipes by Bill Millin at Sword gave that very lift to my kinfolk.
Bill, as daft as it might sound - not even to the Scots.
As has been said, Canadians, Oz/Kiwi/Gurgha etc probably went along wi’ the pipes.
I’ve been on a parade ground with a 200+ Scots Army band, up close and personal- and it’s the main reason why I say “the pipes” can grab you not even by the sphericals, but straight through to the soul. I agree - there seems to be something uncanny about that wailing instrument that bypasses the upper regions of thought processes. I genuinely don’t get it, but I can’t deny what I felt - it was testosterone boost x 1000.
I know when I spoke with a whole bunch of British/Commonwealth veterans of Normandy June ‘44, bagpipes wasn’t one of their enduring memories. Not being shot or blown up (from any side) was what they remembered most, more or less.
As romantic as it might sound, I presume that even the bagpipes can’t drown out the noise of several thousand large calibre weapons firing at each other + the tens of thousands of small arms, hundreds of landing craft, air support overhead (more than once mincing their own side) etc.
I spent as much time as I could talking to veterans back in 2004 around Arromanche eg , and since, when I got the chance.
June 6 2004 the French lit up the entire Normandy Coast for about 60km with pretty fireworks. At less than a meter I couldn’t hear a single thing my mate was saying, and we were several hundred meters from the mortar tubes banging out the crowd friendly sparkly things.
It would definitely be the last thing in my mind to doubt what D-Day veterans recall. I have seen the photos of a piper going ashore etc, but I do have my doubts that any bugger could hear anything above the din of the Atlantic Wall v the Allied Invasion.
I do know there were many pockets of completely unopposed landing, through chance or fortunate f&xk-ups.
Opposed landing June 1944, maybe a piper would give a bit of moral support, if I had been there tbh it probably would have - mainly because there was some other Scots nutter walking into withering dug in defensive fire, armed only with a 3 legged hollowed out haggis....