Land of Broken Promises: D-day Veteran Forced into Hostel, Exposing Failures in Veteran and Elderly Care

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Alfred Guenigault: The decorated war hero was awarded the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest medal for valour for his bravery during the invasion of Normandy. Photograph: Max Willcock Bournemouth Echo/BNPS

Is This Truly a Land Fit for Heroes? It seems not…

Alfred Guenigault, a 98-year-old World War Two paratrooper and D-day veteran, has been evicted from his rented bungalow in Dorset and forced to move into a single room in a hostel. This eviction came under a ‘no-fault’ notice, leaving Alfred and his family in a state of uncertainty and distress.

Alfred, who bravely landed at Pegasus Bridge during the Normandy landings, now feels that his war medals, including the prestigious Legion D’Honneur, hold little value in the face of such treatment. Living with his daughter Deb Dean and her husband for seven years, they were all left with no choice but to relocate due to the landlord’s decision.

Sadly, the housing supply in Dorset is severely limited, and the council has been unable to find suitable accommodation for the family. Instead, they have been offered a single room in a hostel, where Alfred must share facilities with other residents.

Given his frail health conditions, including cancer, kidney disease, and a broken hip, this is far from an ideal living situation. Moreover, the uncertainty of finding a permanent home within months adds to the family’s distress, as they fear Alfred’s deteriorating health may not allow him to witness a more suitable arrangement.

Deb Dean, expressing her concern, highlights that their issue lies not with the elderly landlord and his family, but with Dorset Council. She questions the treatment her father, a war hero, has received, emphasising the significance of his service and the apparent disregard for his wellbeing.

Deb Dean said: “We received a solicitor’s letter for a no-fault eviction. The elderly landlord is a friend of ours but he is in ill health and his children have decided to sell. They have followed the correct process so our issue is not so much with them but with Dorset council. We are told we could be in a hostel for six to eight months. My concern is that in six months he may not even be here any more.

“He also won’t be able to see his grandchildren or any of his church friends who come over to see him. His life is in Ferndown. My father fought in the war and this is the treatment he gets. He is so proud of his medals but he has told me they seem worthless.”

The family say Alfred’s treatment does not meet the government’s Armed Forces Covenant, an act enshrined in law that recognises the nation has a moral duty to take care of former servicemen.

In later life, he worked as a London taxi driver and ran a hotel on the south coast with his wife of 69 years Joy, who died in 2015.

Guenigault said: “I don’t want to make a fuss. I suppose life goes on. The problem is I have lived too long.”

Christopher Chope, the MP for Christchurch, echoes the sentiment of local people who feel neglected by the council’s prioritisation of other matters over the welfare of their own citizens. The government’s allocation of funds for asylum seekers while neglecting the concerns of local residents raises questions about the council’s responsibilities and priorities.

In response, Dorset Council acknowledges the disruption and challenges faced by households experiencing homelessness, pledging to work with the family to find suitable accommodation. However, this does little to alleviate the immediate distress and upheaval experienced by Alfred and his family.

Amidst the hardships faced by this war veteran and his loved ones, the treatment they have received raises important questions about the commitment to honour and support those who have sacrificed for their country.

It is a reminder that more must be done to ensure the welfare and dignity of our heroes, offering them the respect and care they deserve.

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