‘Mindless vandalism’ of Yapton First World War memorial condemned

Yapton man who commissioned several First World War memorials has called for more respect after one of the tributes was vandalised.

Tuesday, 28th May 2019, 4:02 pm

Last year, Jim Payne organised the placement of three Silent Soldier silhouettes to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.

One was fixed outside the Co-op store in Main Road, but since August it has been stolen, replaced and then had its head torn off last week.

Jim repaired the figure, but said the repeated tampering was sad to see.

The repaired Silent Soldier SUS-190522-160701001
The repaired Silent Soldier SUS-190522-160701001

“I just think it was mindless vandalism,” said the Yapton and Ford History Group member.

“Many locals commented as I was repairing our man, saying they were disgusted. Several were young mums who hoped their children had been brought up with respect for what these men went through.

“Whoever did this, I’d like to take them to talk to a veteran of any war so they could hear what war is really like and what they saw and went through.”

The head of the Main Road tribute was torn off last Saturday and left at the foot of the statue.

Jim has reattached it with a gap left between it and the body as a reminder of the senseless act of vandalism.

The gap would also serve as a reminder that many real life soldiers have suffered similar violent fates during war, he said.

Silent Soldier silhouettes are commissioned from the Royal British Legion for a £250 donation and Jim was instrumental in bringing the three aluminium figures to Main Road, Maypole Lane and Barnham Road.

A fundraiser was organised in October to replace the Main Road statue that was stolen, raising more than £750 for the Royal British Legion.

Rebecca Gardener, manager at Yapton’s Co-op store, said: “Having funded the first tribute and then contributed towards its replacement, this latest mindless act of vandalism has really upset a lot of our customers and colleagues. The war memorials are a gentle reminder of an important part of our history.

“We have been told that the two villagers who helped organise the replacement are incredibly upset – understandably. However, we have collected the damaged pieces and are liaising with the parish council in the hope that it can be repaired.”