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Honouring the Giants: Lord Lovat and the Heroes of D-Day

Lord Lovat was one of the first ever British Commandos, and led his brigade ashore on D-Day, 1944.

Nicknamed Shimi, Winston Churchill once remarked, “He was the most handsome of men to slit a throat”—Lovat's legacy is marked by bravery and defiance.


Brigadier Lord Lovat


On the evening of June 5th, sensing his brigade's tension as they prepared for the invasion, Shimi addressed his men:

“I wish you all the very best of luck in what lies ahead: this will be the greatest military venture of all time, and the Commando brigade has an important role to play. A hundred years from now, your children’s children will say, ‘They must have been giants in those days.’”

The brigade was among the first to land on D-Day. As the doors of their small boat opened, Shimi instructed his personal piper, Bill Millin, to pipe the commandos and himself ashore, defying specific orders against such actions in battle. When Millin questioned this, citing regulations, Lovat replied, "Ah, but that's the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn't apply."


Lord Lovat, on the right of the column, wades through the water. The figure in the foreground is Piper Bill Millin


Lovat's forces swiftly pressed on, with Lovat himself advancing with parts of his brigade from Sword Beach to Pegasus Bridge. This bridge had been captured and was being staunchly defended by men of the 2nd Battalion, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry (6th Airborne Division), who had landed earlier by glider. Lord Lovat's commandos arrived shortly after 1 p.m., slightly behind the planned rendezvous time of noon.

Today, the giants of Shimi’s speech are honoured as we commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

At the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, 1,475 giant silhouettes overlook Gold Beach, as seen in the main photo. They represent the number of fatalities under British command on June 6, 1944. Among them are the figures of Sister Mollie Evershed and Sister Dorothy Field, the only two women who gave their lives on D-Day.

We salute and give thanks to those who sacrificed so much to secure the freedom we enjoy today.


Sister Mollie Evershed and Sister Dorothy Field



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