April 18, 2010

BNP under fire as veterans challenge claims made by 85-year-old ‘war hero’ supporter

Bob Head, far right, on a BNP poster. Look closely at those medals.
The BNP are facing embarrassing questions over the authenticity of a D-Day veteran featured on their website pledging his support and acting as a ­recruiting sergeant

Bob Head, 85, who describes himself as a hero and Normandy veteran, issued a statement last week calling on his “fellow patriots” to “fight against the destruction of our beloved Britain”. But since then apparent inaccuracies in Mr Head’s account of his involvement in the Second World War have come to light.

Last night the BNP were accused by anti-fascism campaigners and Second World War veterans’ associations of using the British armed forces to promote their own extremist politics, and of duping the public in advance of the General Election. Despite repeated requests, the far-right party refused to answer any questions about Mr Head’s wartime career, or to allow him to be interviewed.

The Sunday Herald repeatedly asked BNP communications officers to put us in touch with Mr Head. However, the party – despite promoting him online and putting him on posters as part of their election campaign – refused to put us in contact. Nick Griffin, the party’s leader, also refused to answer any questions about Mr Head’s military claims.

The questions are about:

Mr Head’s service

In his message of support to the BNP, Mr Head says he was “attached to the 51st Highland Division” and that “at just 20 years old I was involved in the Normandy invasion”. But there is confusion over the precise nature of Mr Head’s role in D-Day, and whether he took part in the initial invasion or arrived in France some time later. The 51st Highland Division only landed in France in the second wave of fighting in Normandy, after D-Day.

Mr Head also claims his division took part in Operation Market Garden, which included the attempt to take the Rhine bridges at Arnhem. But this was not the case: the 51st division was not involved.

George Batts, the national secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association, said the BNP should be “treated with the contempt they deserve” if untruths had been told about Mr Head’s role.

Mr Batts, 89, said: “A few of my fellow veterans had seen Mr Head on the BNP website and asked me if I knew of him, as they had never heard of him. There are thousands of veterans but it is odd that not one person remembers him or knows who he is. If he does exist, he is an idiot and he will not get much support from any Normandy veterans I know. I really would rather not see this kind of thing from one of our own. We could all now be tarred with the same brush.”

Mr Batts served with the Royal Engineers and landed in France on D-Day in June 1944. He said no “decent, legitimate party” would knowingly deceive the public over such an important event. “The best thing we can do is ignore both Mr Head and the BNP,” he added.

Mr Head’s medals

A photograph of Mr Head on the BNP website, which is also being used on billboard posters, shows him wearing nine medals. However, doubts have been raised about the way they are being worn. Military historians claim the top three medals are recognised as from the Second World War. However, there is confusion about the provenance of the lower set and how he is wearing them.

Maurice Cousins, a researcher for the campaign group Nothing British, which opposes the BNP, was one of a number of critics of the party who raised concern about the medals. James Bethell, director of Nothing British, added his voice to the concerns. “Time and time again the BNP seeks to hijack the memory of our military values and fallen heroes to promote their racist and extremist agenda,” he said. “Veterans up and down the country are revolted by the BNP’s tactics.

“No self-respecting soldier who fought the Nazis would lend their name to a party which promotes racism, homophobia, misogyny and anti-semitism. Griffin should sack any BNP member who masquerades with medals they do not deserve.”

Mr Head’s commander

Mr Head’s online message of support says he was “under the command of the legendary General Bernard Montgomery, or Monty as he was affectionately known”. However, General Montgomery was the overall British commander of the 21st Army Group. The 51st Highland Division was commanded firstly by Major-General Charles Bullen-Smith and then by Maj-Gen Tom Rennie.

Referring to concerns about Mr Head, Diana M Henderson, research director of the Scots At War Trust, said: “To be honest, the whole thing is just a bit sad. Many veterans are still here today and will no doubt be disappointed by this. But most will just shake their heads – after all, they were actually there.”

The source of Mr Head’s words

Last week, another Second World War veteran, Kenneth Riley, appealed for people to sign up to the Hope Not Hate campaign, which fights against the BNP and their policies. Hope Not Hate claim that, within hours, some of Mr Riley’s words were put into the mouth of Mr Head.

Such phrases as “Today, the war isn’t being fought on the battlefield – but in the ballot box” and “If I had my health I would be out there with them. But I can’t – so I’m writing to ask you to volunteer for me” appear in both of the men’s statements.

A statement on the Hope Not Hate website said Mr Riley was “furious when he was told that the BNP had taken his own words … and used them in a fundraising email”. It continued: “Ken fought the Nazis … He continues to fight the Nazis, in the guise of the BNP, today.”

After refusing to offer any information about Mr Head’s record and refusing the Sunday Herald the right to interview him, Paul Golding, communications officer for the BNP, said: “Unfortunately Mr Head is approaching 90 years old and I think it would be unfair on him to pester him with media interviews.”

Sunday Herald


Anonymous said...

More bullshit and lies from the BNP. Are we surprised?

Anonymous said...

The reason why people are leaving in droves.the lying bastards,so glad they only had one membership of me before i quit

Anonymous said...

"However, there is confusion about the provenance of the lower set and how he is wearing them"

Indeed. The top three are campaign medals and the 1939-1945 medal. I have never seen British medals being won like that before. These three are being worn "Soviet" style and they should be on the main horizontal medal bar in senior positions (to the left). Something doesn't add up here. There is precise methods of wearing medals and veterans take these things seriously. Mr. Head could well have been in the Service but maybe he is massively expanding his role and importance in the big operations.

Anonymous said...

I won an iron cross & as an old wartime und SS vetern I would urge voters to vote BNP!

Major Panzer

Anonymous said...

There were members of the 51st Division attached to the 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem.

Anonymous said...

The Division landed at Normandy on the 7th June 1944 as part of 1 Corps and fought in the breakout from the beachhead and in the return to St Valéry, conducted operations in the Low Countries, spent Christmas in the Ardennes, and went on to negotiate the Reichswald and the Rhine Crossing en route to final Victory in Europe.
- 51 Highland Division website, official history

Anonymous said...

It's a wonder that ginger twat Prete Molloy isn't on the poster. He's always wearing his medals though one of them's for swimming 25m.

There's a ceremony every night in his house: Amanda blows his bugle as he deftly transfers his silverware from blazer to pyjamas, hands a tremble. It's not a lengthy ceremony...

Anonymous said...

Is that Ian Huntley on the left?

Anonymous said...

"Paul Golding, communications officer for the BNP, said: “Unfortunately Mr Head is approaching 90 years old and I think it would be unfair on him to pester him with media interviews.”

How convenient.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone going to organise a demo over this?? We can't let this racist bitch have a platform!

Echelon_g26 said...

Meanwhile the 51st Highland Division was re-formed on the same geographical basis as before, and a second Oban Battery, No 242 came into existence....
.....51st Division was given the honour of liberating St Valéry; this was no formality for 242 Battery because the Germans fought tenaciously to hold the area around Le Havre. The 242 Battery was in action again at Nijmegen, trying to relieve the airborne units at Arnhem,


Anonymous said...

What are the medals on the lower medal bar? A mixture of civilian and foreign awards? I reckon Head should only be wearing the upper three in place of the main bar. Would look a lot less impressive though.

JK said...

I think I might make a little trip to Fleetwood tomorrow lol
We need some more people to turn up though guys! Who is the local contact?

Anonymous said...

I will be there the Nazi bitch aint coming to my town spouting her rubbish, Any plans for a meet?

Antifascist said...

The meeting at Fleetwood starts at 7.30pm. I'd suggest we turn up in plenty of time for it.

Anonymous said...

Hearing rumours that a BNP candidate in cornwall has pulled out??? Anyone know anything?

West Midlands Unity said...

WWhite supremacist rally gets shut down in L.A


Anonymous said...

Mr (Dick)head is probably an actor from a stockphoto and the chances are, he isn't even a veteran or british, and the medals have been photoshopped.

Anonymous said...

From the comments made (if they are accurate) the Nothing British group may have acted a tad too quickly on this one.
After reading what was said on the BNP site (I had to visit to read the story, sorry), it is clear that the 51st were at Normandy (just not the first two days, something he didn't claim), were in the Ardennes (just not i the famous 'bridge to far' part of it, again, not claimed) and Monty was their commander (just the supreme commander, not the unit commander).
All that is left is the matter of the medals. Nobody has yet said what the lower medals are, just that they are being worn not in the normal manner.
As he is 85 years old, he almost certainly was in WWII, and wouldn't have had much to say about that. His army record (if true) would be prety much average (he joined, he fought, he came back).
Unless the medals can be shown to be photo-shopped, or Mr Head not to have existed at all, there doesn't really seem to be a story here.

Anonymous said...

Just had a phone call, Denra Kent is in Fleetwood, She invited my parents to tonights meeting, They told her where to shove her leaflet and her meeting, They are even turning up tonight.