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Call to preserve war memorials and graves at risk - is there one near you?

PUBLISHED: 08:00 09 November 2019

The war memorial at Wingfield in Suffolk is one of those assessed as being in a very bad condition by War Memorials Online Picture: ADRIAN S. PYE

The war memorial at Wingfield in Suffolk is one of those assessed as being in a very bad condition by War Memorials Online Picture: ADRIAN S. PYE

ADRIAN S. PYE

As the region prepares to salute the nation's war dead this weekend a call has gone out to the community to help preserve war memorials and graves for future generations.

The Engelandvaarders kayakers memorial at Sizewell shows the outline of where the canoe element of the memorial once was  Picture: WAR MEMORIALS ONLINEThe Engelandvaarders kayakers memorial at Sizewell shows the outline of where the canoe element of the memorial once was Picture: WAR MEMORIALS ONLINE

As the region prepares to salute the nation's war dead this weekend a call has gone out to the community to help preserve war memorials and graves for future generations.

More than 30 in Suffolk have been classed as being at risk or in poor condition by the War Memorials Trust.

Four sites are classed by the Trust on its website as being 'very bad'.

They are:

The memorial at the former Aldringham Providence Baptist Chapel  Picture: ADRIAN S. PYEThe memorial at the former Aldringham Providence Baptist Chapel Picture: ADRIAN S. PYE

-The Ampton WW1 Roll of Honour in St Peter & Paul church in Ampton, near Bury St Edmunds

-The memorial in St Andrew's churchyard at Wingfield

-Gray family memorial, featuring the name of Gunner Harold Gray, St Mary church, Earl Stonham, Stowmarket

-Memorial at Aldringham Providence Baptist Chapel (now closed)

Age and decay are taking their toll on many tributes from a century ago at the end of the First World War  Picture: WAR MEMORIALS ONLINEAge and decay are taking their toll on many tributes from a century ago at the end of the First World War Picture: WAR MEMORIALS ONLINE

A further 31 memorials or private graves of war dead are classed by the Trust as being in a poor condition.

They include the Engelandvaarders memorial at Sizewell to a group of Dutchmen who paddled in kayaks from Holland to England to escape the Nazis.

A metal canoe that formed part of the memorial on the beach where they landed has disappeared.

Two others are recorded as missing: a plaque to the US Air Forces 34th Bomber Group at Mendlesham, and a memorial at Drinkstone village hall.

Joshua Hopkins (left) at the rededication in 2018 of Woodbridge School’s War Memorial with Roger Finbow, Seckford Foundation Chair of Governors and Dr Richard Robson, then-headmaster of Woodbridge School, after it received restoration funding through the Hopkins Charitable Fund and War Memorials Trust  Picture: WOODBRIDGE SCHOOLJoshua Hopkins (left) at the rededication in 2018 of Woodbridge School’s War Memorial with Roger Finbow, Seckford Foundation Chair of Governors and Dr Richard Robson, then-headmaster of Woodbridge School, after it received restoration funding through the Hopkins Charitable Fund and War Memorials Trust Picture: WOODBRIDGE SCHOOL

In north Essex, the memorial at St Leonard's church at Hythe, near Colchester, is classed as being as in a bad condition.

Sites classed as poor include Brantham Xylonite memorial at Brantham, and the Daniell & Sons brewery wall in West Bergholt

Frances Moreton, the director of the War Memorials Trust, said it was thought that up to 1 in 20 of the UK's estimated 100,000 war memorials are in a very bad or poor condition, and while public awareness was much better now many were still at risk from ageing, neglect or accidental damage.

"Everybody can keep an eye out and raise awareness with us or the relevant custodian," she said.

Beccles war memorial after restoration work through the Hopkins Charitable Fund and War Memorials Trust  Picture: BECCLES TOWN COUNCILBeccles war memorial after restoration work through the Hopkins Charitable Fund and War Memorials Trust Picture: BECCLES TOWN COUNCIL

"We encourage everyone to visit their local war memorial, check the condition of it and get in touch with War Memorials Trust if they have any concerns. We may be able to assist your project with a grant if works are needed."

Official war graves are tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

However many servicemen who died of wounds or disease in this country were buried by their families in private graves and there is no longer anyone left, or aware of the grave, to care for them.

Similarly, ownership of civic war memorials can vary.

Sudbury war memorial after restoration work through the Hopkins Charitable Fund and War Memorial Trust  Picture: SUDBURY TOWN COUNCILSudbury war memorial after restoration work through the Hopkins Charitable Fund and War Memorial Trust Picture: SUDBURY TOWN COUNCIL

Ms Moreton said this was one reason why monuments fell into disrepair.

"There are various reasons - for example, nobody knows who the owner is no nobody thinks to maintain it," she said.

"Many of the memorials in this country were erected between the 1920s and 1950s when people did not imagine that ownership would ever be an issue or that there would come a time when people would not look after it.

"Sadly, with the passage of time, memories of the individuals on them have faded.

"Cost is now an issue, with the budgets of local authorities and small churches with dwindling congregations often under pressure."

Another problem was well-intentioned damage caused by people using the wrong equipment or cleaning materials.

"People often use jet-washes, which can cause a lot of damage to soft-stone memorials. It's a similar story with bleach," she said.

In Suffolk the Trust is working with developer Hopkins Homes, which has a £10,000 per year fund to support communities seeking to repair and conserve their memorials.

So far, the Hopkins Charitable Fund, which is administered by the Trust, has provided grants for memorials in Sudbury, Beccles and Brandeston in Suffolk.

Joshua Hopkins of the Hopkins Charitable Fund said: "We are committed to helping fund conservation work to these important touchstones of our communities.

"The grants given out so far have allowed essential conservation work such as specialist cleaning, re-pointing, re-gilding, the re-painting of inscriptions, repairs to the stonework and structural work to be carried out."

Memorials in Suffolk in very bad condition:

Ampton WW1 Roll of Honour, Church of St Peter & Paul, Ampton

Wingfield war memorial

Harold Gray on Gray family memorial, St Mary church, Earl Stonham, Stowmarket

Aldringham Providence Baptist Chapel (now closed), Leiston

Memorials in Suffolk in poor condition:

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Barrow - War memorial, village green

Beck Row - Private Arthur Powell, Suffolk Regiment, Beck Row Methodist Church

Blyford - Great War Roll of Honour, All Saints Church

Bredfield - War memorial, St Andrew's Church

Bucklesham - War memorial, St Mary's Church

Bury St Edmunds - Petty Officer John King, Royal Navy, Bury cemetery

Cavendish - War memorial, village green

Chelmondiston - War memorial, outside village hall

Cheveley - War memorial, High Street

Cotton - War memorial, St Andrew's Church

Cretingham - War memorial, St Peter's Church

Dunwich - VE Day and VJ Day memorial benches, St James' Church

Earl Stonham - Memorial to Trooper Adolphus Kitson, Australian Light Horse, St Mary's Church

Foxearth - War memorial, St Peter & Paul Church

Freckenham - Corporal Ernest Fuller, Cambridgeshire Regiment, St Andrew's Church

Harkstead - War memorial, St Mary's Church

Hemley - Roll of Honour, All Saints Church

Ingham - Private Walter Chapman, East Kent Regiment, St Bartholomew's Church

Little Cornard - War memorial, All Saints Church

Little Saxham - World War One memorial, St Nicholas Church

Mildenhall Old Cemetery - Second Lieutenant Lewis Leach, Suffolk Regiment

Monk Soham - Memorial, St Peter's Church

Nacton - War memorial, The Street

Pettaugh - Lance Corporal Maurice Felgate, Suffolk Yeomanry, St Catherine's Church

Raydon - Memorial to 353rd, 357th and 358th Fighter Groups, Raydon airfield

Risby - War memorial, Risby village green

Sapiston - Lance Corporal Frederick Balaam, Suffolk Regiment, and Private Donald Balaam, Suffolk Regiment, St Andrew's Church

Sizewell Gap - Engelandvaarders memorial, Sizewell Gap beach

Walsham le Willows - Trooper Edwin West, Australian Light Horse, Walsham le Willows cemetery

West Row - Private William Frost, Queens Regiment, St Peter's Churchyard

Woolverstone - War memorial, Main Street

Memorials in Essex in very bad condition include:

Colchester - War memorial, St Leonard's Church, Hythe

Memorials in Essex in poor condition include:

Brantham - Memorial to Brantham Xylonite workers, Brantham

West Bergholt - Memorial at Daniell & Sons brewery wall, The Maltings, Colchester Road

Birch - War memorial, School Hill

Colne Engain - Former war memorial, St Andrew's Church

Toppesfield - War memorial, St Margaret's Church

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