Veterans have been told not to wear their medals on the way to Remembrance Day services across the country, as a retired British Army officer has laid bare the reality of Britain.
As many as 2,000 officers will be present on Armistice Day tomorrow to police the event and have said they will arrest anyone “believed to be part of, or associated with, the pro-Palestinian demonstration trying to assemble in this area can be arrested”.
The Cenotaph will also be protected by a round-the-clock police guard.
However, laying bare the horrifying reality of Britain ahead of Armistice Day, Colonel Richard Kemp said he was “lost for words”.
WATCH NOW: Colonel Richard Kemp discusses veterans wearing medals ahead of Armistice Day
“I’m in touch with some veterans, but I’ve been out of the country for four weeks,” said Colonel Kemp.
“There’s clearly a great deal of discontent, not only about the potential for clashes with Remembrance events but also about intimidation we have seen of poppy sellers by pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas supporters.
“So that is clearly something that they are disgusted by.
“Many veterans including myself know a large number of our comrades who fell in battle.
Generic army veteran
“Among the veteran community as well as among the families of the deceased I think feelings are particularly strong that these events should not be interfered with.”
When questioned about security concerns for veterans heading to the Cenotaph, Colonel Kemp added: “I think sensible security measures are a wise thing to do providing it doesn’t prevent veterans or anyone else wanting to pay their respects on Armistice or Remembrance Day.
“But what I have heard which is very disturbing is advice being given by at least some regimental headquarters to their veterans who are planning to take part in Armistice Day events and Remembrance Sunday events, not to wear their medals, not to wear their regimental regalia or insignia on the way there.
“Put them on but don’t do anything to identify yourself before you go which is to my mind, if true, if the reason for it is because of pro-Hamas protests then I think that’s a really sad indictment on the state of this country today.”
Poppy sellers have been raising money for the Royal British Legion in the lead up to Remembrance DayPA
Colonel Kemp's comments come after Police Scotland launched an investigation into an alleged attack against a poppy seller at Edinburgh Waverley Station.
Army veteran Jim Henderson said he was punched and kicked as he tried to pack up his stall last Saturday.
BTP Assistant Chief Constable Sean O'Callaghan said: “We are working with ScotRail regarding the investigation.”
The number of poppy sellers handing out the Remembrance Day icons have reportedly decreased this year amid growing tensions since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.
Police guarded Rochdale Cenotaph after it was vandalised with 'free Palestine' graffiti GB News
A volunteer selling poppies in a Tesco supermarket in Northern Ireland was filmed being verbally abused by a woman who asked repeatedly who gave her permission to sell “badges for murderers”.
Photographs from Charing Cross Station also showed poppy sellers being surrounded by pro-Palestine activists, with Minister Johnny Mercer responding by arguing: “The saddest thing my generation of veterans ever say to me is that they struggle to recognise the country they wore the uniform for.”
A supporter of the Royal British Legion suggested the tense atmosphere was leaving many fearful of wearing the Remembrance Day icon.
They said: “I'm genuinely too scared to wear a poppy around London this year, no one is around to protect you, defend yourself and either end up getting assault charges or beaten up.”
There are also concerns war memorials could be desecrated by demonstrators after two teenagers were charged with racially aggravated criminal damage for writing “Free Palestine” on Rochdale's Cenotaph.