A statue to one of the legendary D-Day figures, Piper Bill Millin, who was immortalised in the famous film The Longest Day, is to be unveiled this week near the Normandy beach where he landed in 1944.
It has taken several years to raise the money for the statue of the bagpiper who braved enemy fire on Sword Beach and kept playing his bagpipes to boost morale among the landing troops.
Serge Athenour, president of the Mary Queen of Scots Pipe Band of France, said that donations had come from all over the world to raise the â‚¬83,000 needed for the statue of a man who continued to visit the landing beaches until his death in 2010.
â€˜The image of Bill coming ashore playing his pipes is iconic. All the men who helped liberate Sword Beach that day were heroes and Bill had an important role in giving them the courage to face the onslaught,â€™ he said.
Originally Mr Millin had been told before leaving not to play the pipes. But when he waded ashore wearing the kilt his father had worn in the First World War, he was ordered to play by Lord Lovat. â€˜I just said okay and got on with it,â€™ he said in an interview.
He found out later that the Germans didnâ€™t try to shoot him as they thought he was mad. He carried on playing after leaving Sword beach and accompanying Lord Lovat to Pegasus Bridge where the commandos had a vital role to relieve the troops who had captured the strategically important bridge at Benouville after landing by gilder in the early hours of D-Day.
The statue will be unveiled at a ceremony at Colleville Montgomery on Saturday 08 June. Mr Athenour said a copy of the statue had been made and shown to Mr Millin for approval before he died. He had insisted that the statue must show him wearing his kilt.
â€˜If people remember the piper then they will remember all those who served and fell on the beaches. Bill didnâ€™t want people to forget the veterans,â€™ explained Mr Athenour. He added that he believes that the Queen in the UK and her son Prince Harry, a serving soldier, were aware of the statue.
The sculpture has been made by award winning artist GaÃ«tan Ader and cast at the Coubertin, foundry in Paris.
A plaque beneath the statue will read as follows: On D-Day, June 06 1944, on the sector of Sword Beach, as the Scots have done for generations, the Brigadier Lord Lovat, Chief of the First Special Service Brigade, also a Highland chief, ordered his personal piper Bill Millin to pipe his commandos ashore. Above the roar of battle came the skirl of liberation with a piper leading the way. They both entered into legend.