Anger at damage to war graves sign
5:00am Friday 8th August 2014 in By Craig Jones, Reporter
THE destruction of a sign honouring war heroes buried at Radnor Street Cemetery has been branded as despicable vandalism by Swindon Armed Forces groups.
The sign, at the Clifton Street entrance to the site, is one of three at the cemetery, put up in April, to commemorate the 104 Common-wealth war graves at the cemetery.
It was found broken in half on Wednesday evening.
The signs were put up at 3,000 sites across the country to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.
Swindon Royal British Legion chairman Alan Baker said the vandalism has left a particularly bitter taste given that this week marked the 100-year anniversary of Britain entering the conflict.
“It is absolutely despicable. As a branch we feel awful about this as those people buried there gave a great sacrifice in the name of freedom and all they get in return is despicable vandalism,” he said.
“This could not have come at a worse time when we are respectfully commemorating the centenary of the First World War.”
In May, the two other signs at the cemetery were vandalised and had to be replaced by the CWGC. The Adver has reported this latest incident to the group.
CWGC’s west of England regional supervisor Andy Knowlson said: “It is such a shame that it has happened again. I will make sure the sign is replaced as soon as possible, more than likely be early next week.
“We believe that it is only this one sign that has been damaged but when my team go to replace it they’ll make sure the others are fine.
“To my knowledge Swindon is the only place in the country where the signs have suffered damage. We may have to consider putting up a heavier and stronger sign to stop this happening again.
“It is very unfortunate that people seem to get enjoyment from breaking these signs.”
To mark the First World War centenary community group, Swindon In The Great War, has organised events for the public to pay their respects to the servicemen who fought in the conflict.
Historian Mike Pringle, who is a member of the group, said: “It seems that there is somebody out there who has an issue with commemorating the Great War. I feel very sad that this has happened.”
Fellow group member Mark Sutton, regularly gives tours of the Radnor Street Cemetery’s commonwealth war graves.
He said: “Swindon often gets a bad name rather than a good one. Unfortunately, this is another incident to add to the list.
“I’m not sure whether it is vandalism or carelessness as this latest damage might have been caused by people using the sign to climb over the gate when the cemetery is locked.
“Either way, it is a horrible thing.”
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