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j.r.f

stolen grave stones

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j.r.f

PAls

With a heavy heart I have to forward a report from the 10.00.am BBC news.Six ww1 gravestones have been stolen from a cemetery near ARRAS.They may have been taken as building material.

How sick can people be?I am lost for words.

JOHN :angry:

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trenchwalker

:blink:

sick

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Guest Pete Wood
They may have been taken as building material.

I have hinted about this, in other threads, on more than one occasion.

A friend of a friend was showing me around his grade II listed house, which is being renovated. A mason was cutting stones to size to make a fireplace and I noticed there was lettering on one face.

The stone was one of a dozen gravestones that this mason had bought "as a job lot." These weren't CWGC stones, I should add. All the stones were legible.

Highgate cemetery has been robbed many times over the years for its statues. The statue of an angel in my next-door neighbour's garden looks decidedly 'iffy' in my opinion.

And it's not a new industry. The pyramids were plundered thousands of years ago - and the British Museum is full of burial material.......

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Max

Dewsbury Parish Church, like many others, has flattened all the gravestones and these have been arranged in such a way as to form a pathway around the churchyard. B*****r my ancestors, apparantly it makes it easier to mow the grass!!!

Andy

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Tom Morgan

I was in one of the local civic cemeteries last week, trying to locate graves of Zeppelin victims for a BBC TV item. With the help of officials I was able to find the graves, which were in a row of four or five, but they are completely unmarked. Sad, because the funerals were paid for by public subscription and I'm pretty sure there were proper grave-markers at one time. But in the 1960s and 1970s many local councils cleared away untended graves to leave a grassed area which was easier to mow, just as Andy says.

In the event, when filming, I was able to make the point that these unmarked graves are war graves and are, in a way, just as valid as the CWGC headstones which were of course left standing when that part of the cemetery was cleared.

As yet there's no news about the stolen headstones on the CWGC site. I have a feeling there's more to this than meets the eye.

Tom

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Hedley Malloch

Tom;

They've just graduated from nicking registers.

Regards

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MartinWills

I recall visiting one western front cemetery where some headstones had been replaced recently. The remnants of the old ones were scattered alongside a track adjacent to the cemetery. I seem to recall one party member heaving a regimental badge into the boot of the coach. I am sure it has pride of place and would otherwise have been used as rubble.

I know that at the communal cemetery in Albert the headstones in the French paupers section include a number which are the same shape and size as CWGC ones (which you find in the adjacent section) but are thinner. I have been told that they are in fact ex CWGC which have been "skimmed", but cannot confirm this. I am sure such reuse, if that's what happened, is perfectly acceptable.

As for removing or damaging those in place I have nothing but contempt for the individuals involved.

Martin

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Simon R
Dewsbury Parish Church, like many others, has flattened all the gravestones....

Short sighted and incompetent. In historical research a headstone may be all that remains of someone and if that's all there is, no voluminous works of literary repute, no artistic acumen, no legacy, no apparent mark on the world, then the gardener had better take a leaf out of Death's book and use a scythe instead.

Wouldn't the church need a faculty for this kind of work? If they didn't get one you may have legal recourse.

Laying down headstones just lets the water run into the stone's bedding planes. If it hasn't already been done, go mental and record (photograph, transcribe) them before it's too late.

Where do people get these ridiculous ideas from? A former vicar of Otley had the tithe map on his bonfire ready for ignition - it was rescued but you have to wonder what on Earth, or more to the point in God's name, is wrong with them all?

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Guest Hill 60
it was rescued but you have to wonder what on Earth, or more to the point in God's name, is wrong with them all?

They've nowt between their ears, that's what's wrong with them all <_<

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Will O'Brien
PAls

With a heavy heart I have to forward a report from the 10.00.am BBC news.Six ww1 gravestones have been stolen from a cemetery near ARRAS.They may have been taken as building material.

How sick can people be?I am lost for words.

JOHN :angry:

What is disappointing is that such shameful acts are becoming more & more prevalent

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Guest jbd

It is my undertanding that the current vogue for flatening headstones in Municipal Cemeteries is done in the name of "The Health and Safety Executive".

I recollect reading that unless a headstone is capable of standing whilst subject to a given pressure. (I do not know the amount), it has to be made safe. The easiest way of doing this is to flatten it.

Apparently, this is to protect the Municipal authority from injuries caused by a stone falling on anyone who is tending a grave.

"Ease of mowing" is frequently a euphamism for saving costs. It often means that if enough costs can be saved, the Bishop can continue to live in a Palace!

Removal of cemeteries, particularly in city centres is aways done in the name of progress(aka capitalism). The developers always make money, some of which has been known to be spread by means of largesse.

Fortunately the CWGC seems to be above all this but I do note that CWGC graves are required to be moved when a civilian cemetery is cleared. Who pays the costs?

Barrie Dobson

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Terry_Reeves

The cemetery was Hibers Trench near Wancourt. According to the Times, an unnamed official said they may have been stolen for for use as garden ornaments! Hmmm.

Barrie, nice to see you back. With regard to unsafe headstones in UK municipal cemeteries, local councils do have a point. I was fortunate enough to be given a tour of a large cemetery in my home town two months ago by the cemetery manager, a very professional and interesting man. He demonstrated the problem of unsafe headstones, and it didn't take much for them to fall over. Local authorities do have a legal responsibility for health and safety and as he explained, these are privately owned headstones whose families have died out or can no longer be traced. Better they are laid flat than wait for a tragic accident to happen.

Terry Reeves

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Terry Denham

Terry

I speak as someone who is responsible for a public cemetery with possible problems as you describe.

However, you have to understand that there are now companies in existance who specialise in advising local authorities on which headstones are 'dangerous'. Some are good at their job but others not so. It is in their interest to suggest that a headstone is dangerous as they are then paid for laying them flat.

I have seen examples (sorry- no names) of where councils have been advised that one foot high headstones were dangerous and should be laid flat. Total nonsense unless they were trying to claim a trip hazard! The companies concerned have learned to avoid making recommendations on CWGC headstones.

Health and safety is an important issue to all of us but it requires a dash of common sense and awarness that there are sharks in the water.

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Clive Maier

As I walk along a country road to get my newspaper, I often ponder on the way in which our perception of risk is conditioned by familiarity. On the way back, it is not uncommon to have several tonnes of steel pass within a metre of my elbow at more than 50 mph. That is a brush with death that should leave me in a state of collapse. As it is, my legs don’t even buckle and I remain able to favour the driver with a cheery gesture directed at the rear-view mirror.

I mention this because it struck me that after explaining the frightful dangers of headstones, the cemetery manager would have driven home serenely. He would have had to make dozens of judgements each minute to remain alive – and thought nothing of it. But a single leisurely judgement about a headstone seems too much to ask of anyone. In 2001, fatal and serious road accidents in the UK numbered about 35,000. I’m afraid I don’t have the figures for headstones but I imagine they approximate quite closely to zero.

Still, safety is safety, so one thing is clear. Stairs are going to have to go. So is cooking but that’s two things already.

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Clive Maier

As an afterthought, can we not rely on vandals to push over anything that is at all likely to topple? Where are these people when we need them?

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Terry_Reeves

Clive,

Enjoyed your post, and I do have a sense of humour! However having seen how dangerous some of these are, I now better understand the concern. In this particular case stones over a certain height are being considered, 3 feet 6 inches I think. At the moment they are covered in yellow bags marked danger. There is some public concern about the removal of these stones, but I'm sure fickle public opinion would soon change to outrage if say, a child were inured or killed.

Terry Reeves

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spike10764

I cannot adequately describe the contempt I feel for people who could stoop so low as to steal a grave stone-of any description-especially at a war cemetery.

My thoughts on such people are not polite(to say the least) and would include many swear words,which I will save for them if I ever saw them perpetrating such acts.

As for laying flat stones-well the "sue anyone" culture we have now does have a price-at least some thought has gone into these(even if it's only financial).

More respect to the CWGC for keeping the cemeteries as well as they do.

Spike

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Terry Denham

Clive

The figures for headstone deaths in recent years sadly stand at one - not zero. I think it was about a year and a half ago that a child was killed in England by a falling headstone.

A very sad event but compared to the road death toll.......

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Ralph J. Whitehead

Nothing unique to the U.K. I went to a cemetery in Queens County, new York to visit a veteran memorial and gravestones. The stones that had been upright and legible were no where to be seen. When I inquired about it I got the same response, 'it is easier to cut the grass'.

When I persisted I was told that all details on the soldiers could be obtained from the office, all I needed was the name and other details. Unfortunately with the stones actually buried below the grass and soil I could not provide the names, sounds like the movie 'Catch 22'.

I still persisted and found that this practice was illegal in New York and I went after the cemetery. I can report a partial victory when the majority of the stones were placed in their former spot, upright. While it was not 100% it was something.

I wonder how many other locations have been officially vandalized.

Ralph

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Clive Maier
Clive

The figures for headstone deaths in recent years sadly stand at one - not zero. I think it was about a year and a half ago that a child was killed in England by a falling headstone. ...

Terry,

That is very sad indeed but I did say “approximate quite closely to zero” and that seems to hold true. Anyway, the risk is small. The home is far more dangerous than the cemetery. In the UK, there well over 3,000 deaths each year from accidents in the home. Each year, some 2.8 million people require hospital attention for home accidents. Every 90 seconds, someone in the UK is burnt or scalded; 45 percent of these incidents involve children under five years old. Apparently 43,000 people fall off ladders each year. We accept these things with equanimity and do nothing formal to defend against them.

As a threat, headstones are right off the bottom end of the scale. I am resigned to the irrationality but I just felt like pointing it out. On a more philosophical note, becoming so risk-averse that we hardly dare to breathe is not I feel a good way to go.

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Terry Denham

Sorry, Clive. I wasn't meaning to dispute what you said. I appreciated the 'nearly zero' comment.

I agree with everything you say. It is too dangerous to go out and too dangerous to stay in! Help!

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Simon R
The figures for headstone deaths in recent years sadly stand at one - not zero.

A very sad event but compared to the road death toll.......

Couldn't agree with you more.

I know local authorities have a duty of care, but if you lay gravestones down, especially if they're made of millstone grit, they will fall apart. That doesn't qualify as caring for cemeteries in my view i.e. the places where your ancestors currently reside.

The danger is exagerrated.

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Clive Maier

That’s a very good point. If stones weather badly when laid down, then that is a strong argument against allowing it.

I often wonder how so many graveyards got into such a bad state that recovery - because of shrub and tree growth and so on - is barely possible. Incumbents must have watched it happen but failed to rally any help. Did the neglect come about in the long years of WWII when people were otherwise engaged?

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CROONAERT
The figures for headstone deaths in recent years sadly stand at one - not zero. I think it was about a year and a half ago that a child was killed in England by a falling headstone.

A very sad event but compared to the road death toll.......

I don't know whether this is the one that is being referred to, but an 8 year old was killed by a collapsing headstone in my local town cemetery roughly 18 months ago( the second death that I know about in this cemetery since moving to the area approx 7 years ago). There have also been at least 5 occurances of injuries in the same place since then. (This has instigated a H&S purge on this cemetery (including a hell of a lot of the "yellow bags" mentioned above) and more police presence since then).

Dave.

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