Ban on D-Day hero fuels acrimony (CORRECTED)

CORRECTION (PUBLISHED 5 MAY 1994) APPENDED TO THIS ARTICLE

MAJOR John Howard, who became one of the best-known heroes of the D-Day landings in Normandy when he led the storming of Pegasus Bridge, has been banned from the nearby cafe which he liberated.

His offences are to disagree with the owner about the future of the bridge and then to return to the cafe, the first building in France liberated by the Allies, with a team of German journalists.

Madame Arlette Gondree- Pritchett, whose parents ran the cafe when Major Howard and his men captured it in a glider-borne assault, was furious, claiming her mother had told her never to let Germans in there again. She reduced Major Howard to tears, later accused him of being senile, and has thrown him out several times since. Major Howard was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Croix de Guerre for gallantry.

They had already disagreed over the future of the original bridge, which was removed last year because it could not carry modern lorries. Madame Gondree-Pritchett wants it to be taken to England while Major Howard and other veterans want it to stay in France.

Now airborne forces veterans are threatening to boycott the cafe during the ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the invasion on 6 June 1944. One of the biggest events will be a parachute drop by 1,000 British, French and Canadian troops at Pegasus Bridge.

The incident adds to the acrimony surrounding the D-Day anniversary. There have been rows about whether the Germans should be allowed to take part and criticism from veterans about the Government's plans to mark the event.

Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Gray, chairman of the Airborne Assault Normandy Trust, said yesterday: 'She has been very rude to him. This whole business is so stupid and it is not the sort of thing the veterans wanted at such a time.'

Major Howard, whose bravery was immortalised in the film, The Longest Day, has written to Madame Gondree-Pritchett asking for an apology but she has not replied. He said: 'It is just Arlette. If she climbed off her high horse everything would be all right.'

Veterans of the Normandy campaign were confident yesterday that they have won their campaign to have the more frivolous elements of the D-Day plans scrapped.

But, after a meeting with Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, they accepted that the main event, a family day planned to take place in Hyde Park, London, on 3 July, will go ahead with some alterations.

Final agreement between the two main veterans' organisations involved and the Government, which has been seriously embarrassed by the row, will probably be reached at another meeting next week.

Before then the Royal British Legion, and the 10,000 strong Normandy Veterans' Association, will consult their members, some of whom still want to see the scrapping of the entire programme devised by the Department of National Heritage.

CORRECTION

Major John Howard has asked us to point out that, contrary to our report on 28 April, he has not been banned from entering the cafe at Pegasus Bridge in Normandy. Major Howard led the glider-borne force which captured the bridge on D-Day in 1944.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
science
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

SAP BW BO

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried