ARMED Forces veterans have slammed a new Winchester café saying its name is an insult to their fallen comrades.

They are angry the Falling Plates Café has opened its doors at their historic regimental home, calling it a “slap in the face” and “an insult to the memory of the dead”.

The former Royal Green Jackets (RGJ) soldiers say Falling Plates is a derogatory nickname for heavy casualties suffered in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ex-soldiers say the term — which refers to the stationary targets at a shooting range — is disrespectful to those who have given their lives for their country.

A 221-strong Facebook group is demanding the café, at Peninsula Barracks, changes its name before up to 3,000 ex-Green Jackets flood into the city for a reunion on July 10.

Winchester-based Sean Wheeler, who served with RGJ, now The Rifles, from 1989-95, said: “They [RGJ veterans] are very angry about it, the nickname has caused a lot of fights in the past.

“I don’t think we’re being oversensitive — it’s disrespectful to the Green Jackets.”

The 38-year-old, of Romsey Road, added: “They lost men and it’s disrespectful to their families.

“She’s a German lady (the owner) and she put the café’s name through the museum.

“I’d have thought the people in the museum would have a bit more sense than to okay this.”

Tony Cotton, 47, who served with RGJ from 1983-89, said: “I don’t know whether it’s a big mistake or a provocation.”

Steve Barrett, who toured Northern Ireland with the regiment in the 1970s, said: “I’ve seen so many fights about this nickname.

To have this put on our old barracks is like a slap in the face.”

But Lt Col John Poole-Warren, chairman of the Royal Green Jackets Association, denied it was a derogatory term and said it was named after a military shooting competition.

“The name was chosen by an exregimental sergeant-major who works in the RGJ museum in Winchester,”

he said.

“I don’t think there’s any reason for the name to be changed.”

Annette Bergen, café owner, said: “I did not mean to cause any offence, I chose the name in good faith and I chose it after running it past people at the museum.

“If I had known it was controversial I would not have chosen it.

“In the foreseeable future I have no intention of changing the name, we have had many positive comments and only two that have been negative.”

Miss Bergen, originally from Germany, opened the café in April.

It came less than a year after she co-founded Leaf & Bean in Fulflood with Daniel Mills.

But she struck out on her own after deciding that business was not big enough for two.

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