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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'