VANDALISM of a sign commemorating the Commonwealth War Graves at Radnor Street Cemetery has been described as disgusting and disrespectful by Swindon’s Royal British Legion.
Part of the sign on the Deacon Street entrance to the cemetery was broken off overnight at the weekend.
It was one of three put on the cemetery’s entrances, by the Commonwealth War Commission (CWGC), just last month to acknowledge 3,000 sites across the country which have graves of those who have died in conflict.
The cemetery, in Kingshill, has 104 Commonwealth War Graves and the commission felt putting up the signs was a fitting way to mark the First World War centenary which is later this year.
Alan Baker, Swindon Royal British Legion chairman, said: “I think it is absolutely disgusting that someone could do this and the vandalism is an insult to the heritage which those people fought for.
“This is unbelievably disrespectful and I hope those responsible are caught.”
The damage has been reported to the CWGC although it isn’t known whether a new sign will replace the damaged one.
Mark Sutton, a member of the Swindon in the Great War group, who are overseeing the town’s First World War centenary commemorations, believes this incident will tarnish Swindon’s image.
Mark, who is a military historian and an author, said: “This has really saddened me.
“I think it is very distressing to think that people would do that to the sign and what it represents.
“I don’t know whether it is an attack on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission or just mindless vandalism but either way it is just not acceptable.
“It may have only been done by one thug but this kind of thing gives the whole of Swindon a bad name as it shows a complete lack of respect.”
Mark said that the cemetery is intended to be a focal point for Swindon’s commemorations and is ashamed of what has happened.
“The cemetery hasn’t looked as good as this for many years but things like this ruin it,” he said.
“I’m supposed to be giving a guided walk through the cemetery on Thursday telling stories about some of the servicemen whose graves are in there. To have to walk past that damaged sign will be embarrassing.”