War memorial vandalised for scrap

Graeme Stewart said the attack was a 'desecration of the memory of these people who died for us'. Picture: Phil Hannah
Graeme Stewart said the attack was a 'desecration of the memory of these people who died for us'. Picture: Phil Hannah
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A WAR memorial has been vandalised and had three of its bronze plaques stolen just hours after it was unveiled following a major restoration.

The Orwell War Memorial, at Milnathort in Kinross-shire, was targeted by vandals who wrenched off three plaques that had been specially designed to be theft-proof.

It is feared the bronze plaques may be sold for scrap.

A fourth plaque on the memorial, which commemorates men from the village and surrounding farms in the parish of Orwell killed in the two world wars, was left badly damaged.

Local residents had spent months raising the £13,000 needed to pay for the restoration of the monument.

Graeme Stewart, secretary of Milnathort in Bloom, which was one of the local fundraising organisations, said he feared the commemorative plaques were stolen for scrap metal. He said: “I was so angry I couldn’t speak. It’s a desecration of the memory of these people who died for us.

“It’s obviously happened just after we completed the refurbishment, because the steel fence set up to protect it only came down on Thursday. This part of the project cost £13,000, which was for grouting, pointing, resetting the base stones, cleaning and polishing the plaques, and replacing a damaged section of the monument.

“Two Second World War plaques and one First World War plaque have gone. Another First World War plaque has been badly damaged.

“They were screwed in and welded on so that they couldn’t be stolen, but it looks like they’ve wrenched them off with a crowbar. The obvious conclusion is that they’ve done it to sell them for scrap. It is absolutely sickening.”

Mr Stewart said the people in the town were determined the memorial would be restored to its former glory and said a rededication ceremony was already planned for October.

The theft is believed to have taken place some time last Thursday and Police Scotland has launched an investigation into the incident.

Among those listed on the stolen plaques was Flight Sergeant George Thompson who was awarded the Victoria Cross after rescuing two crewmen.

Evelyn Low, whose grandfather Private David Low of the Scottish Rifles was killed in Arras in France in June 1917, and whose name was on the memorial, condemned the thieves.

She said: “I’m really saddened by this. It’s incredible that now it has been restored it has been damaged.”

Kevin Gray, spokesman for the Royal British Legion Scotland, described the thefts as “despicable” and said he believed the plaques had been targeted for scrap metal.