Shipley, United Kingdom
VIJAY SHAH via BBC News
As Britain this week paid its respects to the soldiers who laid down their lives in two world wars on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy, France, celebrations in the northern English county of West Yorkshire were marred by the mindless desecration of gravestones at a war cemetery in the city of Shipley, outside Leeds, BBC News reported.
Unknown miscreants demolished the grave markers at Hirst Wood Burial Ground sometime during Monday and Tuesday this past week according to BBC News. Visitors and local police found gravestones toppled over and broken into pieces. A regular walker in the area, Lynda Gibson, chanced upon the damage on the D-Day anniversary and posted about it on social media, describing the desecration as ‘doubly distressing’ due to its timing with the anniversary of the one of the Second World War’s most powerful moments.
According to West Yorkshire Police, the damaged gravestones had been provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), especially to mark the anniversary, and the Commission was ‘deeply upset’ at the news they had been damaged.
A spokesman said: “Six of the eight war graves at this site were targeted and we will now clear away any debris and lay temporary markers.
“We will ensure all the damaged war graves at Hirst Wood are returned to a state befitting their sacrifice and continue to care for them now and always.”
Police representative detective inspector Amanda Middleton was quoted by the BBC as saying: “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.”
The Hirst Wood Regeneration Group, which assists in taking care of the cemetery, posted on Facebook, saying: “It is mainly the Commonwealth War Grave Commission stones, including that of Arthur Sheard who was buried at the same time as his four-year-old daughter Hilda, who died two days after him.
“It is impossible to understand the callous thoughtlessness of those who did this. Do they boast to their friends and relations that they managed to smash gravestones?
“What possible satisfaction can they get from such a mindless act?”
Investigations into the desecration being held by West Yorkshire Police are continuing. No information was reported as to the identity or appearance of the vandals in the BBC report.
The D-Day Landings were an military manoeuvre which saw the largest seaborne invasion in history, in which thousands of Allied troops were landed on the beaches of northern France to fight against fascist occupation in 1944. Part of the Allies’ codenamed Operation Overlord, 4,400 troops, mainly British and American, lost their lives in that liberation struggle.
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“War graves smashed before D-Day commemorations” – BBC News (7 June 2019) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-48553889?fbclid=IwAR1Nw04pjrMJhBM2UqbetaxvpvzFMX6GxriYBSnR_prWBJfIeMoRyG1W1FY