Leeds & West Yorkshire

War graves smashed before D-Day commemorations

Damaged military graves Image copyright Hirst Wood Regeneration Group
Image caption The military graves were vandalised at Hirst Wood in Shipley

Vandals smashed military gravestones ahead of commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The gravestones at Hirst Wood Burial Ground in Shipley, West Yorkshire, were damaged between Monday and Tuesday.

Lynda Gibson, who regularly walks through the wood, posted on social media that she had found the damaged graves.

She said finding the scene on the anniversary of D-Day was "doubly distressing".

West Yorkshire Police said the gravestones had been specially provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in remembrance of the anniversary.

Image caption Temporary name plates are to be put in place while repairs are carried out to the damaged graves

The CWCG said it was "deeply upset" by the vandalism of the graves, which include those of men killed in both world wars.

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."

Det Insp Amanda Middleton said: "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 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?"

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