Vandals attack signs marking war graves
SIGNS honouring the fallen from Swindon in the world wars have had to be removed from Radnor Street Cemetery after repeated vandalism.
Destruction of the Common-wealth War Graves signs now appears to be a targeted attack after all were found broken yesterday morning.
Members of the Common-wealth War Graves Commission visited the site to replace one of the signs, found snapped in half last Wednesday, to discover that all of the four memorials have now been destroyed.
The team have decided to remove all of the signs until replacements can be installed.
The signs were erected in April to commemorate the 104 soldiers interred at the cemetery. They have been vandalised on several occasions.
Tony Murray, of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said he now believes people are deliberately targeting the signs after a similar incident occurred in May of this year.
“We have now removed all the signs from the cemetery,” he said.
“We arrived in the morning but we only expected for there to be one of the signs damaged so we only brought one replacement with us.
“Unfortunately all four have been damaged.
“They have all been wrecked in pretty much the same way, and we will now have to return early next week to replace all of them.
“The first one we came across had been bent and snapped in half, with the bottom half left on the floor. Two more have been bent completely out of shape but are still intact.
“It is my belief that all of these have been done deliberately, and it looks very much like targeted vandalism for whatever reason. It is very disappointing.
“The strange thing is that there are signs all around here and ours are the only ones which have been targeted.
“This is not the first time this has happened and it does leave a sour taste.”
Alan Baker, chairman of the Swindon Royal British Legion, said the vandalism was disrepectful, coming at it does at the centenary of the First World War.
“It is absolutely despicable,” he said.
“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 vandalism.
“This could not have come at a worse time when we are respectfully commemorating the centenary of the First World War.”
A spokesman for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said: “The signage programme is part of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s efforts to raise awareness of the war graves we maintain in the UK and it is therefore upsetting to see these efforts treated in this manner.
“We will, however, not allow such acts to distract from our work to honour those who died in the two world wars and will restore the signage as soon as we can.”
The Commission team hopes to return to the cemetery on Monday morning to replace all of the damaged signs.
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