Not content with riding roughshod over local communities and the democratic process, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games has been rumbled attempting to rewrite history. In airbrushing the World War II battleship HMS Belfast from an advertising poster portraying the city skyline, LOCOG has managed to upset a lot of people. People with clout.
My personal interest in HMS Belfast derives from the ship’s part in dealing with the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst. On 23 November 1939, at the very beginning of the war, the Scharnhorst took part in the sinking of the British armed merchant vessel HMS Rawalpindi, on which my maternal grandfather Charles John Sedgemore served as a stoker.
Insulting the memory of those who died fighting fascism cannot be excused as “a simple mistake in the advertising production process”. Given the political and cultural sensitivity of the Olympic Games, advertising material such as the offending LOCOG poster would have to be cleared by senior staff. A decision to airbrush out of the picture an historic warship that has been a popular feature of the River Thames since 1971 is unlikely to have been made by some lowly graphic designer. Still, LOCOG’s embarrassment is my delight.
Scharnhorst and Schadenfreude. “Sch…!”, says LOCOG. Not a chance.