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Damage and theft

Historic Scotland have recently produced a short guide entitled The Repair and Maintenance of War Memorials.

This is a free guide which gives custodians valuable information about the environmental risks to war memorials and the types of materials used to maintain them. It also makes recommendations for the most appropriate courses of action for maintenance and conservation. 

Along with this guide, you can also seek expert advice on any matters relating to conservation of war memorials from War Memorials Trust, which is the UK advisory body for the conservation and restoration of war memorials.

 

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By Project Assistant, Annette Gaykema.

We have had two emails recently from an employee at the Tower of London, informing us that two memorials we had listed as missing were in fact located in the Tower of London. The 38th Jewish Battalion, Royal Fusiliers memorial was believed to have been lost when the Great Synagogue, where it was originally housed, was destroyed with a direct hit in the Second World War.  

Similarly, the Royal Fusiliers Roll of Honour was believed to have been destroyed when the Guild Hall was bombed in the Second World War.

Both of these memorials have now been found at the Tower of London, but what remains a mystery is whether they were salvaged from bomb wreckage and eventually given to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum which opened at the Tower of London in 1962, or whether they were moved to the Tower for safe keeping prior to the London Blitz.

Broomfield Garden of Remembrance before the theft

Broomfield Garden of Remembrance before the theft

16 bronze plaques with the names of over 1,000 casualties from the First and Second World War, including 139 civilians were stolen from the memorial temple in Broomfield Park Garden of Remembrance, Palmers Green last weekend. The plaques, commemorating the wartime losses to the Enfield community, were most probably taken solely for the scrap value of the bronze. This is the second theft to have taken place at the Broomfield Garden of Remembrance: the memorial gates stolen in 2000 were subsequently replaced by Enfield Borough Council. Frances Moreton, Trust Manager of the War Memorials Trust described this latest incident as one in an increasing trend of war memorial thefts nationally, the causes of which the Trust are investigating.  

One of the stolen plaques with the names of civilians

One of the stolen plaques with the names of civilians

 

Given the high community and material value of these plaques, investing in security measures to protect war memorials, such as cctv, would certainly appear to be well worthwhile. Thieves may be dissuaded or, in any case, cctv can assist with tracing stolen features from war memorials and proceeding with prosecutions for this particular crime. 

 

Enfield Police have launched an appeal for anyone with information relating to the theft of the Broomfield plaques or information about their current whereabouts to contact them on 020 8345 3349.

Memorials were erected to preserve the memory of those who had died for their country. They provide a place of remembrance for families who cannot easily get to their graves or else have no grave they can go to. As such they have huge emotional value but for some all they can see is the monetary value of the material that the memorial is made of.

The number of incidents of the theft of metal from memorials is rising and the Naval Memorial on Plymouth CWGC Naval Memorial to the Missing, Plymouth HoeHoe, Devon is the latest to be targeted as thieves stole 5 of the bronze name plaques on Sunday, 29 June. Luckily, the plaques have now been quickly recovered but unfortunately some have been badly damaged.

One wonders what can be done to stop this trade. How can we educate people to see that a memorial is not just a commodity but something that is part of the heart of both the community and the families and friends who have a loved one commemorated on it. It should be respected in the same way you would respect the actual grave.

A new grants scheme is being launched today by Historic Scotland and War Memorials Trust.  Funding will be available to ensure that freestanding memorials across Scotland are preserved in recognition of the contribution service men and women have made for their country.

Historic Scotland will provide £30,000 annually to War Memorials Trust who will provide additional funds and be responsible for distributing the grants.  War memorials eligible for conservation grants are freestanding monuments such as obelisks, crosses and statues. 

The scheme can grant aid up to 75% of the total eligible cost of the works to a maximum of £7,500 per project.  See the press release for further information about the launch of the scheme.

Anyone interested in applying for a grant in Scotland (or elsewhere in the UK) is advised to visit the WMT Small Grants Scheme information page to learn more about the available funding or to contact the Conservation Officer on 020 7881 0862 or conservation@warmemorials.org or the Trust Manager or Administrator on 020 7259 0403 or info@warmemorials.org.

A First World War memorial has been stolen from a cemetery in Peel, on the Isle of Man.

Read more from BBC News

This memorial was last seen in December 2006, which illustrates how important it can be for the protection of war memorials to carry out regular condition surveys, especially for those in out of the way locations.  If a memorial is stolen to be melted down for scrap metal, publicising the loss quickly may mean the difference between recovering it and losing it forever.