Sickened by war grave damage

The headstone of Sgt Proctor will stand noticeably shorter among the other graves until a new stone can be cut and installed. EMN-170523-102829001
The headstone of Sgt Proctor will stand noticeably shorter among the other graves until a new stone can be cut and installed. EMN-170523-102829001

There have been expressions of shock and outrage at news that a headstone on a war grave in Sleaford Cemtery has been vandalised and broken.

According to Town Clerk Kevin Martin, the headstone to Sgt George Edwin Procter, a wireless operator and Air Gunner in the RAF Volunteer Reserve, was found lying face down by council workmen last week, snapped off about two to three inches above the ground.

Sgt Procter was son of George and Sarah Morris Procter, of Sleaford and died, aged 22, on August 24, 1942.

Mr Martin said: “We called the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and they have made a temporary repair and fixed the stone back upright, but as it is fixed below ground it is currently two to three inches shorter. A new headstone will be made and installed in the coming months. These things are made from Portland stone so it will take some time.”

The repair man told him that it must have been broken off by force. The incident has been reported to the police.

Clive Candlin, chairman of the Sleaford branch of the Royal British Legion said words to describe whoever did the damage were ‘unprintable’.

He went on: “One thing we have found about Sleaford at Remembrance and Armistice Days and Armed Forces Day people are so generous and respectful for the military of old and currently, so this is very unique and unexpected.”

He said: “It just beggars belief who would have done such a thing with so much that has gone on, even among the younger generation. It is just amazing anyone could sink so low and makes me so angry.”

Mr Candlin admitted that even the Bomber Command memorial near Lincoln had been damaged and burgled in recent months and questioned: “Where do they get their logic from? I cannot understand the warped mentality of these people. The guy gave his life for these people so they could do these stupid things.”

Veteran Anthony Woods posted on the Town Council’s Facebook page in response: “I hope the people that carried out this vandalism are thoroughly ashamed.”

Mr Martin added that it was uncertain when the incident happened and could not draw any links to the recent decision to leave the Millfield Terrace pedestrian gate to the cemetery open permanently following requests from residents and cemetery visitors.

He and the council were hopeful if there are no ongoing issues in the cemetery, the pedestrian gate can remain open. It had been limited to 10am to 2pm due to concerns it was used as a thoroughfare. The main gates will still shut at 7pm.