US millionaire angers English village by re-enacting Falklands War on his estate

American millionaire upset survivors of the German bombing of London....

American millionaire angers English village by re-enacting Falklands War on his estate

8th June 2007
Daily Mail

Mr Burnett, who often drives a tank around the grounds of his Georgian mansion, infuriated residents with the all-day war games display to celebrate his 51st birthday

A flamboyant American millionaire enraged residents in a tranquil English village by throwing a raucous birthday party at his country estate with low-flying aircraft and mock battles.

Neighbours of Charles Burnett III were left distressed as the tycoon celebrated his 51st birthday with an extravagant military-themed party involving explosions and gunfire.

Mr Burnett, who often drives a tank around the grounds of his Georgian mansion, infuriated residents with the all-day war games display.

Second World War survivors living nearby were left angry and upset as the international businessman's party brought back painful memories of "the blitz".

The day's events included two acrobatic air displays by a two-seater Harvard fighter which swooped over his rural retreat as pyrotechnicians set off mock bombs on the ground.

A 1930s de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane and a Russian Yakovlev Yak-18 tandem training fighter also roared overheard performing fly pasts during the day.

The elaborate celebrations consisted of explosions and gunfire

The grounds of the estate were transformed into a battle zone as 20 off-duty soldiers from the Royal Logistics Corps re-enacted skirmishes from the Falklands war.

The servicemen shot at each other using blank firing rifles, while pyrotechnicians set off explosions and blew up cars.

The centre piece of the displays were some of Mr Burnett's cherished collection of amphibious vehicles and tanks.

They included a British Chieftain tank, a self-propelled Abbot armoured fighting vehicle, army jeeps, and a World War One Stanley steam car.

The all-day war games display brought back painful memories of the Blitz for some local Second World War survivors

The 100 or so guests were invited to attend wearing war themed costumes and danced the night away to an orchestra performing Vera Lynn classics and military music.

They were also treated to a champagne reception and a buffet of roast beef, poached salmon and chinese food before a 15-minute firework display at around 10.30pm.

The event entitled 'military transport through history' also marked the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War.

But furious residents living near his estate at Newtown Park in Portmore, Hampshire, have complained that the tycoon turned their picture-postcard village into a battle zone.

The grounds of Burnett's estate in Hampshire were transformed into a battle zone

Pamela Watson, 75, who has lived in the area for 46 years, said the swooping aircraft and explosions brought back disturbing memories of her childhood during World War Two.

Miss Watson said: "It was like the blitz. "The planes were swooping in so low and I was very frightened by them because they were incredibly noisy, roaring over head.

"There were loud explosions as well, which literally shook the windows in my kitchen. It sounded like there was a war going on and I had to stay indoors.

"I suppose they thought they were having a jolly good time but for us it was a nightmare.

"I lived through the war as a child and I remember often going through Sheffield and seeing the devastation from the blitz the night before.

"I have those memories in my mind and they were very distressing.

"I think it's all rather selfish and no one ever told me this was going to be happening. It's upset a lot of people."

Widow Althea Ayre, aged in her 80s, said Mr Burnett's war party had offended many war veterans in the area.

Mrs Ayre said: "There were lots of people going about in camouflage and tanks driving around - it was very frightening.

"I lived through the second world war and I have painful memories of that time.

"I have a lot of friends around here who fought in the war and still suffer from those dreadful memories.

"It was terrifying for them to have all these planes swooping down and tanks rolling around their homes.

"But then Mr Burnett likes to let everyone know when he's in residence. He's terribly rich and he's quite infantile with all his toys."

Married mum of two, Harriet Draycott, 30, from the same road, said: "It was a very nasty shock for the many elderly people who live in the area.

"One lady was very upset because she had a friend who was shot and killed on the ground by an enemy fighter during the war.

"I didn't mind it too much because I'm that much younger but it did seem very unfair on the elderly people."

Estate manager Rob Gray dismissed the complaints as "sour grapes" and said the event raised 27,000 pounds for the British Legion Poppy Appeal.

He said: "It was certainly very loud. But we've had more congratulations than we have complaints. The main thing was that we celebrated my employer's birthday.

"We only have these parties every five years or so, but if you listened to these people you would think we had them every week.

"Some people said that the noise and the planes frightened their animals but it was no worse than a thunderstorm.

"Yes, we're going to upset some people but we've done more good than harm.

"Some people who complained, claimed that it brought back bad memories of the war and I can sympathise with them to a certain extent.

"But my boss's mother lived through the blitz in London and she didn't find it distressing.

"One woman wrote a letter saying that she sat there in her house with her hands over her ears hour after hour but there were only three planes.

"We approached the police, coastguard, fire service, the hospital and the Civil Aviation Authority beforehand, we had a risk assessment, and everything went swimmingly."

He added: "It was great to see everyone enjoying themselves.

"What price do you put on having a party? Some people spend hundreds, others spend thousands. We spent thousands.

"I think this one was the best we have ever done. It really made it having the planes roaring overhead.

"There were several film crews there videoing the whole thing so we can look back in years to come and say 'cor, do you remember what we did at that party'."

The Civil Aviation Authority said it had received a complaint by telephone but would not investigate until it received one by letter. New Forest District Council's environmental health department said it had received two complaints and would investigate.

Years ago, middle-aged Mr Burnett refurbished the crumbling Newtown House, which he leases from the owner.

He installed, among other things, a helicopter landing pad and is known for driving his tank around the grounds and flying light aircraft.

The site also includes Lymington Airfield, which Mr Burnett still uses, which was built in the Second World War when the U.S. air force launched bombers for the D-day landings in Normandy.

The businessman was born in the United Kingdom to a Canadian mother and an American father.

Mr Gray described Mr Burnett, who has U.S., British and Canadian citizenship, as a "shy and gentle man". He was included in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999 for a powerboat offshore water speed record of 137mph.
Plans are in the works to do The Boston Tea Party next season
I thought all these people who were complaining were supposed to be at work. You know, the whole 22.5 hour a day work schedule and all that you guys are so puffy chested about?
So now we have to avoid bringing back other peoples' painful memories? What happened to the stiff British upper lip they always talk about?
What would you expect? Grenada was too big to stage on his estate, but the Falklands skirmish just happened to be a perfect fit
Sorry for being an over sensitive Brit, but Grenada a 'too big to stage'?? WHAT are you talking about? How many people died over Grenada? 649 Argentinians died in the Falklands war and 258 Brits. It might not be Iraq, but too many people died for it to be made a joke of.

As for the 22.5 hours? What is that? I am not puffy chested about it as I have no idea what you are talking about! Do I sense some Anti-British sentiments?
A reanactment of the Grenada War is a fabulous idea!

We can bask in the glory of America's triumph over the might Caribbean commies!

Sign me up.

And where's the beer?

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