Does the swastika offend you?

Prince Harry has sparked an outcry by wearing a Nazi armband at a party. Sixty years on, two war veterans explain what the swastika means to them
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The Independent Online

YES: Harry Marrington, 80, Navy Gunner

YES: Harry Marrington, 80, Navy Gunner

I don't know what's wrong with the boy. At 20, he should have grown out of that. We were already fighting a war at the age of 17 and 18. We were men. We fought a war to try to stop this business. I was born into the Army and have known nothing else but regimental discipline. In my day, we would get into trouble for simply climbing up an apple tree. And the family would have to take the blame too. Nowadays, when you tell youngsters off they don't seem to care less.

In Normandy, there were sights that you'd never forget. We were on armed trawlers that used to be fishing boats in peacetime until the Navy took them over.

We were a small force. My brother-in-law came across the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. Those who went in have never said anything about it since. If you've seen those places, you'd never say anything about them.

It's not about apologies. It's about understanding. Prince Harry should be taken to Germany and shown the camps and the pictures of the terrible things that happened to people.

I saw those soldiers and SS people. From the time they were born, they had the Nazi beliefs drilled into them.

I cannot imagine what people who have lost their families in the Holocaust must feel. It's unacceptable.

Could the Prince's aides not have warned him about the effects of such an action? If he hadn't put that symbol on his arm, no one would have taken any notice. But I see the swastika today and I still see the same hatred. It's a terrible thing and should never be taken lightly.

Harry Marrington, from Farnham, Surrey, served as a Seaman Gunner in the Royal Navy. He married his late wife during the war and later worked for Hampshire Council before retiring 14 years ago.

NO: Jim Ratcliffe, 82, Veteran of D-Day Landings

I just thought, "You silly lad". It is a storm in a teacup. He cannot say sorry any more. What more do they want him to do? Grovel? It was in bad taste, but all this was 60 years ago. I think we should all move on.

I'm sure there's a lot of the younger generation that wouldn't know what a swastika is. It is similar to how I felt about the events of the Boer War when I was young, which was nothing much whatsoever.

I've got a swastika upstairs as a souvenir. I recently spoke to some Scouts and took it with me for them to see; they had never seen one before. It is a piece of history. I got it when I was sharing a bivvy tent with someone from our platoon who came down with a dose of malaria. He was sent back and we had the job of clearing out his kitbag and came across it. I took it as a souvenir from the war and that is what it is to me, purely and simply, a war souvenir. To me, it is a German flag of that period. It's lost all the connections with what went on during the war. We have plenty of other things to worry about than the past. After the war was over, I went to Berlin in an SS shirt. I didn't have any clean shirts and a friend lent it to me. During the war, people went out in London in German uniforms as a bet; you see what you want to see.

I was posted to Sicily in 1943 and returned to Britain until the invasion of Normandy and was there until 1946. It was not a case of having stars in your eyes or thinking you were doing something great. It's just something that had to be done. We didn't look upon Germans as Nazis. They were just German troops. We had to kill them or be killed.

Jim Ratcliffe was 19 when he was called up in 1942. He was at D-Day with the Durham Light Infantry. After the war, he was a baker with his wife, Bessie, in Bolton.