War graves 'desecrated' in west London

Defaced war graves Image copyright Jane Palmer

War graves in a cemetery in west London dedicated to Australians who died in World War One have been defaced with spray paint.

Harefield churchyard in Hillingdon contains 120 World War One graves, mostly those of Australians who died in the Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield Park.

A local councillor said the graves had been found defaced on Sunday morning.

The Met Police are investigating and described the crime as "wrong".

Second incident

Jane Palmer, a Conservative councillor for Hillingdon, said she had been "in tears" at the discovery.

It is the second such incident this year, according to the Uxbridge Gazette, which reported that on the eve of the Gallipoli centenary, a memorial in the cemetery was sprayed with paint and the Australian flagpole cut into.

The 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital (1 AAH), which opened in June 1915 and closed in December 1918, contained over 1,000 beds for casualties from France.

The cemetery at Harefield, which also contains six World War Two graves, is thought to be unique in its scroll-shaped headstones chosen by the staff and patients at the hospital.

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