Government denies D-Day party 'retreat': Criticised 'jamboree' becomes 'tribute' as ministers and veterans agree on August celebration featuring Dame Vera Lynn. James Cusick reports
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Wednesday 11 May 1994
Despite claims that a 'jamboree' in Hyde Park had been dropped after pressure from the Normandy Veterans' Association and the Royal British Legion, the department insisted that a celebration day out would still go ahead and, crucially, would involve Dame Vera Lynn.
Last month, John Major was under fire amid claims that the Normandy anniversary was being 'trivialised' by frivolous events such as spam-fritter cooking competitions and street parties. The Prime Minister, it was claimed, had misjudged public feelings about a battle that ended in heavy loss of life.
The heritage department said yesterday that after consulting with the Royal British Legion and the Normandy Veterans' Association, it had been agreed that a 'tribute' day would be held on 14 August, not the original date of 3 July. A spokesman for the department emphasised that the event, which would still be held in Hyde Park, would include Dame Vera. He said: 'Talk of her pulling out was only speculation. What she told us was that she would only take part if the veterans were happy. She said if they were happy, she was happy.'
The Royal British Legion said last night that it had welcomed the opportunity given by the heritage department to discuss the plans for 14 August in Hyde Park. 'The idea of a fitting tribute to those who took part in the Normandy campaign in Britain and in France is one which we find acceptable.'
The shift from jamboree to tribute has the hallmark of delicate political diplomacy over an issue which greatly embarrassed the Government.
However, Mr Major's D-Day problems may not be over. A heritage department spokesman insisted the Hyde Park day out would still have to incorporate elements which had appeal for the young. 'Education' would be emphasised for those unaware of the significance of the sacrifices of the Normandy campaign. There would still be a big band concert and Ensa-style entertainment. However, the other side-shows will be unlikely to incorporate any mention of spam fritters. The shift to August, which will mark the end of the two-and-a-half month Normandy campaign, was central to the case put by veterans to Iain Sproat, the heritage minister.
The 6 June commemorations, marking the beginning of Operation Overlord, which the national heritage department of said were always intended to be more sombre and formal, will go ahead as planned.
Under the command of US General Dwight D Eisenhower, the D-Day armada, the largest invasion fleet in military history, conducted an amphibious landing on the northern coast of France.
The entire military operation lasted just over 10 weeks. The veterans had emphasised to Peter Brooke, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, that he should concentrate any celebration on marking the conclusion of the Normandy campaign.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Gaza-Israel conflict: The terrible price children are paying for Israel’s war with Hamas
Rotten-egg smell of farts could help battle heart disease and Alzheimer's
Online trolls target alleged rape victim Jada, by copying how she appeared in video of attack
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...
£40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNA, CCNP, Linux, OSPF,...