Vandalised graves of veteran Brit war heroes replaced day before Armed Forces Day

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Vile yobs smashed the soldiers graves at Hirst Wood Burial Ground in Shipley, West Yorkshire, three weeks ago.

In pieces, the headstones of Sergeant Peter Bilsborough, Leading Aircraftman Frank Whittaker, Captain A Crossley, Gunner Henry Hardy, Driver Arthur Sheard and Sapper J Stephenson were left to crumble.

But, within days, The Commonwealth Graves Commission (CWGC) began restorative work on the headstones of the six World War casualties.

Speaking to Daily Star Online, Andy Stallman, CWGC’s UK operations manager said: “Every single CWGC headstone represents a person’s life.

“When someone takes it upon themselves to show the ultimate lack of respect and try to destroy their name it hurts the community and shows a complete lack of understanding of our collective history.

“This was one of the worst cases of vandalism we have seen in the UK and we waned to ensure this damage was fixed as quickly as possible to reassure the families and show our resolve to never allow these men to be forgotten.

“Cases like this are thankfully rare and we have been blown away by the outpouring of public support in the wake of this heartless act.”

Each grave was replaced like for like with the original and was carved out of the distinctive white Portland stone that has become synonymous with the work of the CWGC.

The niece and nephew of one soldier, Sergeant Bilsborough, was even invited to meet the team who quickly restored their uncle’s resting place to a state akin to his sacrifice.

Across the UK the CWGC looks after 170,000 war graves and dedicates some of their resources to recovering the remains of British soldiers who are still missing in Europe.

Mr Stallman said: “The huge outpouring of support we received in the wake of this senseless act has proved just how much the public continues to value the memory of the men and women of the wartime generations.

“It was an honour for our staff to meet the relatives of Sergeant Bilsborough, one of those whose graves was sadly desecrated, to show that we here at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will never forget these men.”

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