The vandalism of the war graves in London of Australian soldiers has been described as “deeply distressing” and a “sickening act” by a Commonwealth War Graves Commission spokesman.
The headstones of the graves in the St Mary’s Churchyard Cemetery in Harefield, west London were desecrated with blue paint on Sunday. A clean-up operation began on Monday and police are investigating the incident.
War graves commission officer, Peter Francis told AAP there was nothing about the apparently senseless graffiti to suggest the saddening attack was specifically targeted at the Australian graves.
“It’s just a sickening act really, one that’s deeply distressing, not just for those of us who spend our working lives trying to perpetuate the memory of the men that gave their lives for us but also for the families of those men that are buried and commemorated there,” he said.
Local councillor Jane Palmer said the desecration of the Anzac graves had brought her to tears.
In tears this morning at this desecration of #Harefield Anzac War Graves @Hillingdon @MPSHillingNorth pic.twitter.com/mq36byMGsL
— Cllr Jane Palmer (@CllrJanePalmer) November 22, 2015
It is the second such attack at the cemetery year. On the day before Anzac Day in April, the entrance was daubed with paint and a flag pole cut in half.
The St Mary’s Churchyard Cemetery is home to some 126 graves, including 112 Australian military graves; those of World War I Anzac soldiers, mostly who died in a nearby hospital after sustaining injuries on the Western Front, and one nurse. About a quarter of the headstones were vandalised.
A churchyard attendant named Rowena, who regularly organises the Anzac services at the site, said she was devastated by the damage.
“When you think that these graves have been here for 100 years and twice this year they’ve been desecrated … I just cannot believe that anybody would do this to these soldiers who gave up their lives to fight for their mother country,” she said, according to the ABC.