An 83-year-old army veteran from Erith has slammed Bexley Council's decision to feature a Turkish soldier and flag on the front of a First World War memorial booklet - remembering those who fought in the Gallipoli campaign.

John Thompson, of Aspin Green, was disgusted by the front of a pamphlet, shared at the war memorial service in Oaklands Road, Bexleyheath, on November 8.

News Shopper:
The booklet, published by Bexley council, has been slammed by the army veteran

He believes it should have featured army personnel from the Allied forces and not a Turkish soldier.

The nine-month-long attack by Allied forces, starting in 1915 against the Ottoman Empire - which dissolved before the formation of Turkey in the 1920s - saw more than a quarter of a million men on both sides lose their lives.

The army veteran said: "They [Bexley Council] are unthinking idiots.

"Next year maybe I could picture Hitler on the front or Mussolini.

"It’s disgusting.

"I would say that it was just such bad principle - we are standing at a memorial service to give thanks - you just can’t do that.

"A lot of people found it very offensive."

Mr Thompson, who served with the Brigade of Guards and who toured in Cyprus and Suez in 1952, added: "I objected strongly to the picture on the front of the book.

"Maybe I’m getting old and funny, but I’m looking at a Turkish soldier knowing hundreds and thousands of Allied troops lost their lives."

TOP STORIES:

A spokeswoman for Bexley Council said: "We are sorry that the cover of the Remembrance Services booklet caused offence to a veteran who attended the service.

"This well attended, annual event is held as a mark of respect to the servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives in defence of their country.

"The image was used because the programme specifically mentions the 100 year anniversary of the battle of Gallipolli.

"The programme also includes images relating to a number of key events and locations from the Second World War."

According to website, The Great War, total losses during the campaign included 205,000 British soldiers and 47,000 French soldiers.

News Shopper:
John Thompson pictured with the brochure

It is estimated that 8,709 Australian and 2,721 New Zealand soldiers (ANZAC) were killed during the siege.

Although Turkish casualties have been disputed it is estimated that 251,000 Turkish soldiers lost their lives.