Two recently put up signs recognising that Radnor Street Cemetery, close to the town centre, is a site with Commonwealth War Graves, have been damaged in what appears to be mindless vandalism.
The abuse took place over the weekend and photographs were published on Twitter by Martin Newman who lives closeby – pictured here.
He said: "I went to Radnor Street quite early on Saturday morning because of the wonderfully clear light and discovered the damage to the signs put up by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission because of the 103 graves of servicemen from the two world wars buried there.
"I was deeply saddened that somebody, or a group, has attacked a sign reminding us of those who served our country. We do get a lot of vandalism in the area, but this damage is particularly disappointing."
Martin immediately contacted the police, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Swindon Borough Council and said it was incumbant on all parties to find the culprits. He said: "Swindon Council recently signed up to the English Heritage memorandum on the prevention, investigation and prosecution of ‘any offence which harms the value of England’s heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations.’"
He added: "I realise the police have a lot on their plate but I very much hope investigation will lead to a prosecution.
"At the same time I hope the publicity around this act of vandalism will raise much more awareness about the war graves in our midst, and make more people realise the sacrifices made in the past to secure our freedoms today."
Swindon historian Mark Sutton, who wrote Tell Them of Us, giving the details of the men who went to the Great War and those who died, said: "The news was really disappointing. To think that people would damage the signs and what it represents made me feel numb."
Pictured right: Andy Knowlson, west of England regional supervisor for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at Radnor Street, by Richard Wintle of Calyx
Guided visits over the summer
Radnor Street Cemetery and its chapel is the base for the Swindon in the Great War group.
Members of the volunteer team will begin guided tours of the cemetery on Thursday 22 May with local military historian Mark Sutton talking about Swindon men who fought and fell, and Frances Bevan will be looking at some of the other memorials and the stories behind the families.
Thursday, May 22 – An Evening Walk through Radnor Street Cemetery – 6.30 pm.
Saturday June 21 – Swindon in the Great War display and guided cemetery walks at 11 am and 2 pm.
Sunday August 17 – Swindon in the Great War Exhibition – local historical societies gather to remember – guided cemetery walks at 11 am and 2pm.
For details, and to book places on the walks, which are free of charge, call Mark Sutton on 07870 701049 or Frances Bevan on 01793 875416.