SNUBBED veterans say they are being pushed to the sidelines after plans to limit their numbers taking part in a popular parade came to light.
War heroes from Emsworth say they have been left feeling ‘insulted’ over proposals to potentially cap the veterans’ ranks at the town’s future St George’s Day celebrations.
A former long-standing organiser of the event claims Havant Borough Council’s new team is seeking to only have just 50 retired service personnel to future events.
One of the town’s councillors admitted plans were being looked at to impose a cap for ‘logistical’ and ‘security’ reasons but stressed this wouldn’t impact this year’s event, adding all veterans were welcome to join.
However, Korean War veteran Norman Davies – who helped set up Emsworth’s event for the past 10 years – lashed out over the proposals.
The 86-year-old retired Warrant Officer, of Rosemary Way, Horndean, said: ‘This is an insult. I feel bloody angry to be quite honest.
‘I have been told that we will have to keep the number of veterans down to 50, including standard bearers. In previous years we’ve had 90 to 100 people taking part. It’s not on.’
The procession was set up to honour the heroism of veterans who fought in the Second World War, as well as those in the Korean War and conflicts in Malaya and Borneo.
More recently, currently serving soldiers from Thorney Island have taken pride of place at the parade, processing through the town centre.
Councillor Rivka Cresswell has been helping to organise this year’s spectacle and said ‘conversations’ had been had with groups taking part about how many veterans would be able to join future parades.
Asked whether numbers would ever be capped on the event, she said: ‘It could be the case – it’s not the case this year, we have still got 70 people marching.
‘In the past few years the number of veterans has doubled.
‘I think there will come a day where we will have to put a restriction mainly because of security and logistics.’
She added the parade had grown to such a large number it was becoming difficult to fit everyone in Emsworth’s High Street.
‘We now have more veterans than soldiers,’ she said. ‘We need to get a balance.’
John Measham, of the Malay and Borneo Veteran Association, is the current commander of the veterans’ contingent and has been involved in the discussions with Cllr Cresswell.
He said the suggestions were ‘sensible’, adding: ‘We have got no beef with the council.
‘The main concern was the space available in Emsworth – there isn’t enough of it.’
However, Mr Davies said the discussions could cause ‘confusion’ for veterans thinking of attending this year’s ceremony.
He added Korean War veterans felt like they had been ‘forgotten’ and demanded assurances they would always be able to join the parade.
‘I fought for two years in Korea, it was a horrible, horrible war – a real war,’ he said. ‘There was hand-to-hand combat and trench warfare. It was like the First World War.
‘We Korean veterans are now getting fewer and fewer as the years go by. This parade is an important venue for us to be remembered.’
The parade will take place on Monday from 10.30am.
It will feature a contingent of 45 soldiers from 30 Battery, 16 Regiment Royal Artillery and members of the Band of the Royal Artillery.