We'll fight Brown on the beaches

D-Day veterans angry at 'politicisation' of anniversary

Survivors of D-Day reacted angrily yesterday to what they claimed was a belated attempt to politicise and hijack a nine-month campaign to take British veterans to mark the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

A public appeal for funds to take 500 ex-service personnel to the commemorations in France, launched in The Independent on 6 June last year, has been assured of success for weeks. The Government had been criticised for not paying the travel costs, and for not planning to send Gordon Brown to the event – but yesterday it said there would be "appropriate British attendance" and that it would "provide support so veterans can participate".

As the Big Lottery Fund suddenly announced its contribution towards veterans' fares, the Prime Minister said he wanted to be "very much part of the commemorations", and that he hoped there would be a service in Westminster Abbey to remember a "great generation of heroes".

But Peter Hodge, secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA), said: "Ministers on the beaches is not really what we wanted or needed. We never complained about the Government not giving us money. We wanted this to be between the veterans and the British people. The public response to our appeal, first publicised in The Independent, has already been fantastic."

"We also wanted this to be mostly about the veterans themselves. If ministers go along, the extra security tends to mean that veterans are pushed into the background."

After reading The Independent's story about the appeal, the advertising executive Trevor Beattie took up the cause and helped Mr Hodge to set up a fund which has since received pledges of more than £175,000. This, and other sums raised by the NVA, is enough to take all 500 fit British D-Day survivors back to the beaches. Mr Beattie has donated £30,000, and the comedian Eddie Izzard has promised to make up any shortfall. For many elderly NVA members, the 65th anniversary will be their last chance to remember the sacrifices made on 6 June 1944.

Mr Beattie said: "Everyone who wants to support these magnificent men is very welcome. But it would have been courteous to recognise all that has already been done by Peter Hodge and myself and The Independent. Most of all I object to the clear attempt to hijack and politicise our campaign. This was never about attacking Labour or Gordon Brown. It was always about supporting our veterans in a practical way."

He added: "The job is already done. We already have enough money for the veterans to go to Normandy and probably enough to fund events, with live film links, for those who are not well enough to travel."

Mr Hodge wrote to every British newspaper last May asking them to highlight the plight of the veterans. In 2004, the Labour Government paid for veterans to travel to the 60th anniversary, and he said this was more than any previous government, Labour or Conservative, had done. The NVA accepted that the Government could not pay again, so it appealed directly to the public to help raise funds for a "last parade" of D-Day survivors in 2009.

The only national newspaper to respond to Mr Hodge's letter at the time was The Independent. "The truth is that it is rather too late to be raising funds now," Mr Hodge said yesterday. "We are talking about elderly people and that means you have to plan well in advance. Luckily, thanks to Mr Beattie and others, we already look like we will have all the money we need."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
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

Biology Teacher

Main Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Biology Teacher to A Level - Female...

SAP Assessor

£26000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: SAP Assessor Job T...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

HR Advisor (Employee Relations) - Kentish Town, NW London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor (Employee Rela...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering