Royal British Legion members were left “disappointed and embarrassed” after a military re-enactor was told he was not welcome in a Leeds pub with his wartime rifle.
Around 30 veterans from the Legion headed to the Cuthbert Brodrick on Millennium Square in the city centre yesterday lunchtime after taking part in a First World War commemorative parade.
They were joined by Neil Griffiths, a 55-year-old military historian from Hull who had led the parade dressed in the uniform of a soldier from the war and carrying a decommissioned Lee-Enfield rifle.
The group bought drinks and sat down but then the JD Wetherspoon pub’s manager came over and said Mr Griffiths – who was still in his uniform – could not have the rifle on the premises.
One of the veterans, Martyn Simpson, standard bearer for the Barwick and Scholes branch of the Royal British Legion, said today: “We pointed out that it was decommissioned and so could not be fired but that made no difference.
“It wasn’t like he was waving the rifle around, people weren’t having their pictures taken with it.
“The rifle is Neil’s property and so it stayed with him all the time, it was right by his side.
“We were disappointed and embarrassed – it was a sad way to end what had been a brilliant day.
“We had gone there to unwind after the march, to swap stories and catch up with people.
“The manager wasn’t apologetic at all, he was just saying ‘these are the rules’.
“When it became clear he would not change his mind, we all stood up and left – and quite a few other people in the pub came with us.”
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said today: “We fully back the decision taken by the manager and at the same time understand the disappointment of the customers.
“Despite the fact that the rifle has been decommissioned, we would not want a rifle on our premises.”