A MINDLESS vandal who defaced Mansfield’s new war memorial just days after it was officially unveiled has been condemned by the families of those who have died.
Several names were graffitied in red ink on Mansfield’s Heroes Memorial, which commemorates service personnel who died in modern-day conflicts, last Tuesday - only three days after a moving blessing ceremony at Carr Bank Park.
In a sickening twist, a cross and the phrase ‘RIP’ were also daubed on the monument wall as well as the six names - an act which has been described as ‘despicable’ by the trustees of Mansfield’s Heroes Memorial Fund.
Deborah Smalley - mother of Pte Damian Wright who was killed in Afghanistan in 2007 - is a trustee of Mansfield’s Heroes Memorial Fund and has, along with the other five trustees, raised thousands of pounds to help build the memorial.
“When I found out I just burst into tears, I was absolutely devastated,” she said.
“It is such a terrible thing to happen and I have had such a lot of feedback from family and friends who are also disgusted.”
Albert Bainbridge, the partner of Mandy Clarke whose son LSgt David Greenhalgh was killed in Afghanistan last year, said they were both disappointed by the attack.
“Mandy was dismayed that the memorial was attacked so quickly, we expected something like this to happen because of the way people are these days and this is what happens when young people congregate in such places,” he said.
“Personally, I think that whoever did it has a lack of respect and appreciation for the memorial, they have not experienced that sort of thing themselves on a personal level.
“It is a lack of thought more than an intention to vandalise.”
Mansfield’s Heroes Memorial, which commemorates Mansfield service personnel killed in conflicts including the Falklands, Korea and Iraq wars.
It was built using money raised by townsfolk and has received praise from many quarters, with Col Keith Seddon, of the Mercian Regiment, saying it is something the whole of Mansfield should be proud of.
The opening ceremony, on Armed Services Day, was attended by representatives from all three armed services, the Merchant Navy and six different regiments along with several hundred members of the public.
“This act of total disrespect for the families of the men named on the wall and for the sacrifice the men paid is utterly disgusting and sickening,” added a spokesman for Mansfield’s Heroes Memorial Fund.
“Only last weekend families of all seven men killed in action while serving their country stood proudly with hundreds of others from Mansfield to pay their respects.
“The ignorance of the vandal beggars belief.”
Police are conducting an ongoing investigation and have questioned a 13-year-old girl in relation to the incident after her father contacted officers last Tuesday.
Pc David Miller-Eardley, beat manager for Ravensdale, said: “The memorial commemorates and honours people from our community who paid the ultimate price during modern-day conflicts.
“They died so that we could enjoy our freedom and for someone to dishonour their memory so callously is despicable. “
The graffiti has now been cleaned by Mansfield District Council, which has already said it will issue Fixed Penalty Notices to anyone behind the vandalism.
Anyone with information should contact Nottinghamshire Police on 0300 300 9999 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.