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Last Updated: Friday, 4 June, 2004, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Scotland's veterans remember D-Day
World War II veterans are returning to Normandy 60 years after the D-Day landings to remember their experiences and pay respects to comrades who died during the assault.

The men who fought on the beaches and provided support for the multi-national force have been sharing their experiences with BBC News Online Scotland.

Bill Millin
Bill Millin, 1st Commando Brigade

Bill Millin has become world famous as the piper who defied enemy fire to play on the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day landings.

Bill, now aged 81, was in the 1st Commando Brigade under Lord Lovat as they landed on Sword Beach on 6 June, 1944.

Artists impression of Bill Millin on D-Day
Lord Lovat asked the young man, then 21, to ignore instructions banning the playing of bagpipes in battle and requested that he play to inspire the troops.

Wearing his kilt and unarmed, Bill marched up and down the shore playing Highland Laddie and The Road to the Isles.

"I was the only piper to play at D-Day in action - it seems to have caught the imagination of some people," he said.

Bill's actions were depicted in the film The Longest Day.

Joe Rorrison
Joe Rorrison, Royal Marine Commandos

Joe Rorrison joined the Royal Marines when he was 18 in 1943.

A small elite unit, the B troop of the 46 Royal Marine Commandos were selected for special training at Achnacarry for cliff climbing in the Normandy invasion.

However, weather conditions were unsuitable for attempting an assault on the cliffs.

Joe Rorrison
Almost 24 hours after the initial assault they went ashore and with help from two tanks took a gun emplacement and 62 prisoners with no casualties.

Their next encounter was trickier, facing the formidable 12th SS Hitler Youth in the village of Rots.

"Our first real engagement, we lost 23 men in two or three hours - that brought us to our senses about war," he said.

John Stott
John Stott, 15th (Scottish) Division

John Stott's company were sent to France a few days after the first wave of the invasion and was responsible for maintaining the supply line to the frontline troops.

His task was to get a 25lb gun onshore from the landing craft and across the beach, ready to move up to the battle lines.

He said: "We were support troops, 10 or 12 miles behind the front line, in range of artillery fire, but not lying with both eyes open all the time."

John Stott
On a recent visit to Holland, he said a teacher and a group of schoolchildren filed past him with each one saying: "Thank you for being my liberator."

John is travelling across to Normandy to mark the invasion's 60th anniversary with some friends.

Orlando Gallaccio
Orlando Gallaccio, 15th (Scottish) Division

Orlando Gallaccio travelled across the English Channel from Newhaven on a landing craft and had to swim ashore after it hit a sand bank coming into Gold beach.

The 84-year-old, from Brechin, describes dive-bombers in the skies, bullets raining down and bodies floating in the water.

Orlando Gallaccio
He said: "I climbed out of the Channel and started running up the beach and didn't stop running for a whole year. The main thing that kept me going was fear...and the comradeship."

They made it as far as Bayeux the first day and met up with Canadians there, before moving on through Belgium and Holland.

Orlando believes people in the UK no longer fully appreciate the sacrifices made by his generation.

Jock Wilson
Jock Wilson, The Royal Artillery

On D-day Jock Wilson, now 101, went ashore onto Juno beach.

On reaching the beach, Jock rushed as fast as he could manage to comparative safety further inland.

He later joined a convoy of five big guns, which fired about 3,000 100lb shells in one day into Caen.

Jock Wilson
"I was on Juno beach with the Canadians and from then on I was in anywhere where you could see the shells landing and making the alterations," he said.

Jock is one of the oldest veterans returning to France for the anniversary of the invasion.

On Tuesday, he received France's most prestigious military decoration, the Legion d'Honneur.

George Swanston
George Swanston, Royal Navy, infantry transport

Amidst the noise and confusion of the landings, George Swanston spotted his uncle, Jock Wilson, going ashore onto the Normandy beaches.

George was in the Navy, after lying about his age to join the service in 1941.

He was on a large troop transport ship on D-Day and spotted the distinctive Atholl bonnets of the Royal Artillery in a landing craft alongside.

Troops landing
In what he calls a "half-a-million to one chance", he saw his uncle on board, then watched the landing through binoculars to ensure the group made it safely across the beach.

"If we hadn't gone to France, we'd only have Germany instead of Europe," the veteran said.


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