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 Hoe, 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.
As the rain clouds cleared, officials and guests assembled in New Malden, Surrey on the 24th April 2008 for the dedication service to commemorate the town’s recently discovered connection to its third VC recipient. Two WW2 VC recipients are already commemorated on the memorial, Squadron Leader I. W. Bazalgette and Pilot Officer C. J. Barton, but for years a third person, Lt Humphrey Firman, Royal Navy, had remained unacknowledged – that is until research by a local historian uncovered his connection to New Malden.
Lt Firman was awarded his VC following attempts to re-provision the forces at Kut-el-Amara in April 1916. He was commanding the SS Julnar as it carried 270 tons of supplies up the River Tigris on 24 April, a particularly dangerous mission for which only volunteers had been called upon to carry it out. Despite artillery and machine-gun fire to distract the enemy’s attention on his departure, his ship was discovered, attacked and captured by the Turks. It was during this engagement that Lt Firman and several crew members were killed.
Can any other community memorial lay claim to more VC recipients being commemorated on their memorial?