Leeds & West Yorkshire

War graves smashed before D-Day commemorations replaced

Military graves at Hirst Wood Image copyright Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Image caption Staff from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission worked to replace the vandalised gravestones

The vandalised headstones of six world war casualties have been replaced after they were attacked ahead of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The gravestones at Hirst Wood Burial Ground in Shipley, West Yorkshire, were damaged days before the anniversary.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission(CWGC) had new Portland headstones engraved at their centre in Beaurains, France.

Andy Stillman of the CWGC said the vandals "showed complete disrespect".

West Yorkshire Police said no-one had so far been arrested in connection with the attacks on the gravestones.

Image caption Temporary name plates had been put in place as repairs were carried out to the damaged graves

In all, six war graves from World War One and World War Two were damaged at the start of June. The graves were for:

  • Sergeant Peter Bilsborough
  • Leading Aircraftman Frank Whittaker
  • Captain A Crossley
  • Gunner Henry Hardy
  • Driver Arthur Sheard
  • Sapper J Stephenson

"When these war graves were smashed by vandals they weren't just destroying a piece of stone - they were showing complete disrespect for the people buried there and what they did for their country," said Mr Stillman.

Image copyright Hirst Wood Regeneration Group
Image caption The military graves were vandalised at Hirst Wood in Shipley
Image copyright Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Image caption The gravestone of Sgt Peter Bilsborough has been replaced after vandals smashed the original stone

Julie Watson, niece of Sgt Peter Bilsborough, said: "I was horrified to see what had been done to my uncle's grave and to think that someone would destroy the headstone of someone who died in the war.

"But through all that negativity I've been so impressed by the professionalism and respect which everyone has shown in trying to fix this."

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