OLD soldier John Mill is boycotting Sunday's Remembrance Day service at Aldershot - because he feels Rushmoor Council has insulted him.
It's a heartbreaking decision for the 80-year-old ex-Hampshire Regiment private who survived the Second World War after being shot in the face and taken prisoner.
But he believes it is the only way he can express his disgust at the way he claims he was treated by a council official in a dispute over a parking ticket.
John, of Kenilworth Road, Farnborough, received the ticket when he parked partly on hatched markings alongside a disabled bay near the town's Asda store.
He was told that if he failed to pay the £20 "fine" within seven days, it would be increased to £40.
"I rang the council and explained that I was a war veteran and pensioner, and asked if I could have longer than seven days to pay the £20," John said on Monday.
"The man I spoke to gave me a severe lecture and asked what being a pensioner, or being in the army, had to do with a parking fine." In his opinion the council officer's alleged brusque manner was an insult to all war veterans and pensioners.
"I'm not going to sit alongside Rushmoor councillors after being treated like that," he said. "I've never missed a service before, but this year I will stay at home on my own."
He will sit in his armchair and remember his former comrades, especially his mate, Welshman Charlie Powell, who helped save his life after they escaped from a German prisoner-of-war camp in Austria. While on the run they were discovered by a group of German soldiers who shot John in the face, shattering part of his jaw and leaving him permanently deaf in one ear.
John, who holds five wartime medals, said: "If it had not been for Charlie looking after me, I would not be here today. He saved my life twice within 48 hours."
On Tuesday Andrew Lloyd, Rushmoor Council chief executive, said he had attempted to act as peacemaker in the dispute. After speaking to both Mr Mill and his parking control staff, he said it was impossible to tell who was at fault. Nevertheless he had arranged for the £20 "fine" to be refunded. "I'm not in the business of falling out with an 80-year-old man who has given such fine service to his country," said Mr Lloyd.
He hoped the refund, which was posted on Tuesday, would persuade Mr Mill to have a change of heart. "I look forward to seeing him at the Remembrance Day service," he added.