There have been many great rivalries through the ages.

Manchester United VS Liverpool; Oasis VS Blur; Blair VS Brown; Celtic VS Rangers; Kasparov VS Karpov; the RAF VS the Luftwaffe; Blondes VS Brunettes; BBC VS Sky.

But none is greater than that of Britain VS France, a rivalry which has been happening for centuries and seen the two fight wars against each other countless times. The two nations enjoy fighting each other so much that one war between them lasted 116 years during which the English, ruling vast swathes of France (in revenge for the Norman Conquest), burnt a 19 year old French girl to death.

But, despite the Entente Cordiale being signed in 1904, ending 1000 years of warfare and squabbling between the two old powers, recent events on the Frenchie side of the Channel have shown that the two can never be friends.

A French mayor has insulted the memory of hundreds of British soldiers who died liberating his village after putting up a picture of a Nazi sympathiser.

Bernard Hoye, mayor of Gonneville-sur-Mer in Normandy, insists on honouring Frenchman Philippe Petain, the Vichy leader who brought shame on his country during the Second World War.

British commandoes and Royal Marines spent days fighting a German garrison in the weeks after D-Day to liberate the town.

Now Hoye has been told to remove the picture immdeiately.

195,700 Allied sailors on 5000 ships and 175,000 Allied troops left England on Tuesday 6th June 1944 and landed on several Normandy beaches to begin the liberation of Europe.

Row as French mayor puts up official picture honouring Nazi collaborator Petain in town liberated by Britain in World War II

By Peter Allen
24th January 2010
Daily Mail

French traitor and Nazi collaborator Philippe Petain

A French mayor has insulted the memory of hundreds of British soldiers who died liberating his village by displaying a portrait of a notorious Nazi collaborator.

Bernard Hoye, civic leader of Gonneville-sur-Mer, in Normandy, insists on honouring Philippe Petain, the Vichy leader who brought shame on his country during the Second World War.

This is despite the fact that British commandoes including the Royal Marines and SAS spent days fighting off the town's German garrison in the weeks after D-Day.

Now Christian Leyrit, the Lower Normandy prefect - or government representative - has written to Mr Hoye 'in the strongest possible terms' telling him to remove Petain's picture 'immediately'.

'This portrait cannot be placed alongside the official portraits hung in a town hall, which is a highly symbolic place for the French Republic,' Mr Leyrit wrote.

Mr Leyrit's words reflect growing disgust at an attempt by some French people to try and rehabilitate the memory of Petain, who was a Gallic hero during the First World War.

Petain was imprisoned after the 1944 liberation of France after setting up a pro-Nazi regime in the spa town of Vichy, effectively abolishing the French Republic to become a German slave state, collaborating in everything including the persecution of the Jews. Petain died in disgrace in 1951.

Marshal Petain shakes hands with Otto Abetz (left), a German Ambassador to Paris. A French Mayor in Gonneville-sur-Mer has displayed Petain's portrait

Mr Leyrit wrote to Mr Hoye following a complaint by the France-based civil rights group, the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA).

In a strongly worded letter, LICRA wrote that it was deplorable that the prefect was 'obliged to give lessons of history and law to the mayor of a Norman town only a few months after ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of the allied landings.

'Keeping the picture on show is an affront to the memory of the victims of Petain's anti-Semitic persecutions, of the resistance and the Allied soldiers'.

Liberated: Gonneville-sur-Mer was freed by British soldiers

Mr Hoye, who was elected mayor of Gonneville in 2008 as an independent, said: 'This picture has been around for decades. Petain appears in a gallery of portraits of French heads of state.

'Whether they are controversial or not, I don't have to take sides, unlike the LICRA which is not objective.' Mr Hoye, a qualified lawyer, said there was no question of him removing the portrait, and that nobody else had the power to do so.

British soldiers landing on a Normandy beach, 6th June 1944

After weeks of fierce fighting, Gonneville-sur-mer was finally liberated in mid-August 1944 by British commandoes who had fought their way up from the Normandy beachhead. It is now one of the largest villages of France, with some 500 residents.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 24th, 2010 at 02:03 PM..