Police are investigating a handful of war graves being vandalized on the anniversary of the D-Day landing.
The smashed headstones featured the name, rank, regimental badge, and a symbol of the faith of British and Commonwealth servicemen and are in a graveyard in Shipley, West Yorkshire. The damage was discovered on Monday and could have taken place then or possibly the day before.
Local paper Telegraph and Argus pointed out in their report of the vandalism that the graveyard has been targeted before, specifically crosses.
“It hurts my heart to see this, it’s a terrible thing to do. It’s a disgrace … For quite a while people have been going into the cemetery and stealing the Celtic crosses,” a local resident told the paper. “Some have been destroyed and some have disappeared altogether. St Paul’s Church in Shipley owns the burial ground and we have given them SmartWater in the past to put on the graves to try and stop them from being stolen.”
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission released their own public statement on the damage to the war graves.
“The @CWGC are deeply upset to confirm that a number of Commonwealth war graves have been senselessly damaged this week in Shipley (Hirst Wood) Church Burial Ground, Yorkshire,” the group tweeted.
They added that they are working to repair the graves. They also said one of the graves that was smashed belonged to Sapper J Stephenson, a man who died 98 years ago.
“One of those graves vandalised at Shipley (Hirst Wood) Church in Yorkshire is that of Sapper J Stephenson – who died 98 years ago today. The @CWGC team have been working all day on site to repair the damage caused this week,” the group added.
Check out the tweets and pictures of some of the damage below:
One of those graves vandalised at Shipley (Hirst Wood) Church in Yorkshire is that of Sapper J Stephenson – who died 98 years ago today. The @CWGC team have been working all day on site to repair the damage caused this week. Read more, here: https://t.co/lmKoASqJNH pic.twitter.com/1cSf2WJxGV
— CommonwealthWarGraves (@CWGC) June 7, 2019
The group has marked each grave temporarily until new headstones can be carved.
“It is particularly distressing that someone has shown such a complete lack of respect during the week of the D-Day 75th anniversaries, when so many tens of thousands assembled around the world to reflect and pay deserved respect to the war dead,” they said in a separate public statement.
A total of eight war graves were targeted in the senseless vandalism.
More of the damage can be viewed below:
Commonwealth War Graves people have put temporary markers in to replace the vandalised head stones. They will eventually replace them with permanent stones. pic.twitter.com/h3bHUJL7Td
— Hirstwoodrg (@hirstwoodrg) June 7, 2019
Police spokesman Detective Inspector Amanda Middleton has pled with the public for information regarding the damage to the graves.
“The gravestones were destroyed in what was a mindless act of destruction and I would urge anyone with any information to come forward and speak to the police,” she said, according to the BBC.
She added, “High visibility reassurance patrols have been stepped up in the area whilst officers continue with their inquiries.”
Events commemorating the D-Day landing were taking place worldwide this week. One event in the United Kingdom was at the National Memorial Arboretum in England. President Donald Trump was among the guests there.
This sort of mindless chaos is a danger no matter where it occurs and it should be especially concerning since this chaos was unleashed upon graves commemorating fallen war heroes.
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