Anger as war graves smashed in run-up to D-Day anniversary

Numerous gravestones were found smashed in a cemetery in the run-up to D-Day, following what has been described as the “callous thoughtlessness” of vandals.

Among those damaged were gravestones specially provided to the Hirst Wood burial ground in Shipley, Bradford, by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the 75th anniversary of the landing operations, police said.

West Yorkshire Police believe the vandalism was carried out on Monday or Tuesday, with some locals discovering it on Thursday, the D-Day anniversary itself.

Among the graves damaged was that of Arthur Sheard, who was buried with his four-year-old daughter, who died just two days after him.

Sad to report that a number of gravestones in Hirst Wood Cemetery have been smashed. It is mainly the Commonwealth War…

Posted by Hirst Wood Regeneration Group on Thursday, June 6, 2019

Posting about the incident via their Facebook page, the Hirst Wood Regeneration Group said: “Sad to report that a number of gravestones in Hirst Wood Cemetery have been smashed.

“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.”

The group added: “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?”

One woman who walks through the graveyard regularly, but did not wish to be named, said the incident was “shocking”.

She said: “It’s just awful to consider the lack of thought that has gone into this damage.

“The fact that it happened so close to D-Day is what I think has shocked people the most.

“It just makes you despair, really.”

The woman said the damaged gravestones were being removed from the cemetery on Friday.

West Yorkshire Police have said they are looking for witnesses.

Detective Inspector 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.

“High visibility reassurance patrols have been stepped up in the area whilst officers continue with their inquiries.”