Factcheck: Is French town’s EU D-Day bunting really ‘Brexit punishment’?

UK newspapers claim Britons are ‘furious’ over the Union Jack being left out of flag bunting to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day

Volunteers make a yellow poppy cascade
British and US volunteers making a special poppy cascade to mark the anniversary of D-Day in Carentan
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Several UK tabloids have run stories claiming Britons are “furious” after a French town put up flag bunting which left out the Union Jack as part of events to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The Express called it “an apparent ‘punishment for Brexit’”; the Daily Mail meanwhile claimed the “Union Jack appeared to have been removed by French officials”. The Sun carried the heading ‘Slight them on the beaches’. 

In fact the bunting used in Carentan-les-Marais is a standard EU type, which includes flags of member countries, so would not include the UK (or the US) so no flags have been ‘removed’.

A shop displaying a poppy dress in the town

And, far from forgetting the UK, Carentan has found other ways to honour thit and show thanks for its - and America’s - key role in the liberation of Normandy 80 years ago.

This includes adorning the mairie with a specially-made crocheted poppy cascade with British flags in it. There is also a British poppy cascade, which has been borrowed from Selby Abbey, in Selby, North Yorkshire, Carentan’s twin town, on the local church.

‘Extra big’ Union Flags have also been put up at the railway station, at the town hall and on flag posts around the town, said British resident Tansy Forster who organised the poppy cascades as well as a display of 80 knitted and crocheted mini scenes depicting D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

Mrs Forster said: “The council ordered brand new bunting, but as it came out of the packet they saw it had EU flags and the flags of the EU.

Read more: Thanks! Volunteers found to bring D-Day soldiers to France

“When you order bunting here in the EU they don’t include the Union Flag in it, as you would expect. So the town has put up extra big Union Flags in the town to make up, but we also made our special poppy cascade, to help the entente cordiale.”

Poppies are not traditional in France, and it is the first time it has shown off poppy ‘cascades’, which have become popular in the UK in recent years. 

A dress shop is also displaying a poppy dress on loan from Circcieth, Wales, where the Free French Keiffer Commando, involved in the Liberation, had trained.

Meanwhile paving stones in the town have been coloured in with little US flags.

Some 18 British and US visitors came over in recent days to help Mrs Forster make cascades, which also include a special yellow one which will represent the colours of the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division, who liberated the town.

One of the local town councillors said in a Facebook yesterday: “Rest assured, we haven't forgotten our British friends and I invite you to have a look at the work done by Tansy Forster and her association to decorate our town with poppies on the town hall and church at Carentan-les-Marais.”