Like many men from the small Nova Scotia community where I was born, he joined the Canadian military in the early stages of the war and served his country as a Canadian Air Force sergeant and aerial navigator. He received the Overseas Medal for serving on a base that provided escort duties for naval and merchant ships plying the dangerous waters of the North Atlantic, keeping supply lines open and bringing Canadian soldiers overseas and back home. At the end of the European campaign, he was scheduled to ship out to the Pacific theater when the atomic bombs were dropped, and the war ended. He credits his mother’s prayers for keeping him on home soil. He now lies in our family cemetery plot overlooking ancestral land along the shores of Antigonish Harbour and among many other fellow surviving veterans of the “war”. When I was a younger man, I remember the “old” vets were survivors of W.W.I. Now the last of the W.W.II vets are passing to their final reward. I will think of them also, their dedication to country during war time and the contribution they have made to this country during peace. I will be playing the pipes for the first time with the RCMP “E” Division pipe band, which I have only recently joined. We will play in Surrey, B.C.; a long way from the cenotaph in Antigonish, but my thoughts will be on home and men and women from my community who gave and contributed so much to this country.
I am also including a link here to a longer blog post from the online version of The Hamilton Spectator. The contributor provided a very nice post on the bagpipes and their significance to Remembrance Day ceremonies. The post is called The pipes call soldiers to war – and freedom.
This post was written by Aidan Johnson, a Hamilton community activist and lawyer.
Historic pipes Private Bill Millin plays his bagpipes at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland in 2001. The piper helped lead soldiers during the D-Day landings. Millin donated his historic bagpipes to the National War Museum of Scotland.