Lord Lovatt, Piper Bill, and the Crossing of the Mue River
April 10, 2006
When Lord Lovatt, the famous British commando, and his faithful personal bagpiper, Bill Millin, parachuted into Normandy, as is well known, they were separated from the rest of his men. The 1st Special Service Brigade had, as one of its tasks, the seizing of a crossing over the Mue River. British I Corps was then to make the passage, a famous Yeomanry regiment leading.
Lord Lovatt and Bill captured the crossing with no difficulty. Lord Lovatt, who spoke seven languages like a native, including German in each of its eleven regional dialects, simply spoke to the men in their South Bavarian dialect, telling them the British had outflanked them and they were to fall back.
The bridge won, Lord Lovatt and Bill fired the required flare signal, sat down to a quick snack of sardines, and waited for the Yeomanry’s armored cars to arrive. When nothing of the sort happened, they began to search the area and found the lead squadron, which informed Lord Lovatt they were waiting for orders from their regimental CO. He had been last seen going around the corner two hours past. Because of secrecy, only he knew the orders.
Becoming progressively more irate, Lord Lovatt and Bill searched the area, finally arriving at a farmhouse where they found the Yeomanry CO in bed, accepting what they assumed was the personal surrender of a beautiful German nurse.
At the inevitable court martial, the defense argued that the CO had thought the nurse was his wife, somehow arrived in Normandy, ready and willing. Since that had never happened in their twenty years of marriage, the CO could be forgiven for taking the opportunity for a short dalliance. With war being what it was, who knows if he would ever have the opportunity again.
When an indignant Piper Bill took the stand, he blurted out: “Begging your pardon, Sirs, but I happen to have seen the colonel’s wife: there is no possibility even a blind man could mistake the beautiful German prisoner for the colonel’s wife, who is uglier than the backside of a Staffordshire cow!”
Amid the uproar, the defense asked to speak privately to the presiding officer and requested a brief adjournment.
It so happened a Staffordshire cow had boarded one of the assault craft along with the men. They had figured it was actually a cleverly disguised armored car prepared by the gadget–happy Yanks and designed to fool the Germans. It was only in mid-Channel when the cow performed certain functions that cows perform regularly that the Yeomanry figured this was no armored car in disguise: even the darned Yankees couldn’t be this good. Of course it was too late to do anything about the cow, and it arrived safely in Normandy.
The defense shortly returned. “Sirs,” he announced dramatically, “you will have noticed I have not spoken a word to the accused since Piper Bill made his absurd statement. So there is no possibility that I have colluded with the accused. I now propose a simple demonstration that will conclusively prove the witness has no concept of what he speaks!”
The cow was brought, rear first, into the large tent where the court martial was taking place. Whereupon the accused immediately leapt up with a “Darling! How absolutely delightful to see you! You look lovelier than ever!” and planted a kiss on the cow’s backside.
It turned out the CO was blinder than a bat, but from vanity never wore his –17 power spectacles. He shouldn’t have been in the army in the first place – that mystery has never been sorted out.
To cut the long story short: the CO was acquitted of charges. The damage, however, had been done: because I Corps did not make across the Mue River in planned fashion, it caused the whole of General Montgomery’s 21st Army Group to fall behind schedule and thus caused the direct failure of his plan to end the war before the end of 1944. As predictable from Chaos Theory, the delays caused others, and the ripples expanded.
We hope readers will now have a better understanding of why certain things are the way they are today. The rise of Moqtada Al Sadr in Iraq, the removal by Chinese censors of 5 of the 40 songs the Rolling Stones had prepared for their historic concert, and Brad Pitt’s romance with Angelina Jolie are just some examples of events that had their original cause in the Mue River incident sixty-two years ago.