D-Day heroes snubbed by the Goverment
D-DAY heroes have been snubbed by the government who say there will be no national commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the wartime event.Despite pressure from veterans, supported by the EADT, ministers have decided not to officially mark the anniversary on June 6 this year.
D-DAY heroes have been snubbed by the government who say there will be no national commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the wartime event.
Despite pressure from veterans, supported by the EADT, ministers have decided not to officially mark the anniversary on June 6 this year.
Appalled campaigners say this robs D-Day heroes, most of them now in their 80s, of their last chance to remember fallen colleagues.
Ivor Caplin, the Government's minister for veterans, said yesterdaythat the heroes who fought for Britain on June 6, 1944, would not be honoured officially across the country despite a deluge of letters from EADT readers demanding proper recognition of the historic day.
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Instead there are events planned in Normandy, organised by the French government and in Portsmouth, arranged by Portsmouth City Council.
Mr Caplin announced in the House of Commons that the Prime Minister and the Queen would be going to the commemoration in Normandy, as well as regiments and at least two military bands from the UK.
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However, the British government will not be organising a national day of commemoration until next year, to mark the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Mr Caplin said: "When you ask me 'is it going to be a national day of commemoration?' the answer is no. It wasn't on the 50th.
"The natural progression of commemoration says that would be how to deal with it. There will be a major commemoration in respect of the end of the Second World War, which is different to one part of those six years. D-Day is one but it's one of a number.
"I hope what your readers will recognise is that the Government takes huge strides to make sure D-Day is properly recognised.
"There will be the highest possible representation both by Her Majesty and the Prime Minister. As far as a national day of commemoration, I am sure your readers would accept that the end of the Second World War is the right time."
He added: "I would be very happy to accept your petition and I am delighted that your readers have shown interest in veterans and the commemorations. They would accept there are other occasions throughout the year."
He said that the marking of the end of the Second World War next year would credit all the major events of the fighting, including D-Day and the Battle of Britain.
He added that there are three internationally-significant anniversaries this year, including the liberation of Rome, that would be honoured by events organised in those countries by their governments.
"The D-Day landings stand on their own as an outstanding achievement of our time and the bravery of those men is without question.
"For many veterans I accept that it's their last opportunity to go to Normandy," he said.
Lt Col Jonathan Collins, county field officer for the Royal British Legion in Suffolk, said it was probably "too late" to organise anything in Britain now and he had not heard anything about "lumping everything together" for a commemoration of the end of the Second World War.
He said: "It is very disappointing that there really has been no effort made by the Government to try and commemorate this incredible event that took place 60 years ago.
"I know the French are doing something, there seems to be a big party and commemorative event, but it doesn't seem to me that we are following in their footsteps at all."
He added: "It is very poor. This is going to the very last time this will be done. We have had the 50th anniversary and this is the 60th. This will be the last time those old soldiers will be able to take part in any sort of event. It's a great shame."
Mr Caplin outlined the Government's plans for D-Day so far:
nA national competition for schools, which will lead to children seeing the Normandy beaches and the commemorative sites. Mr Caplin said it was important that veterans' knowledge and experience of D-Day is passed onto youngsters and others through further education.
nFree one-year passports for veterans wishing to travel to Normandy.
nA 50% reduction on P&O ferries for veterans.
nPortsmouth City Council has organised a programme of events, starting on May 27 and leading to the anniversary weekend. Mr Caplin will open an exhibition there.
nTelevision coverage of the events in Normandy and Portsmouth.
nThe Queen, Prime Minister Tony Blair and military personnel, will represent Britain at the events in Normandy.