Vandals fail to delay Anzac Day tributes
Commemoration held in memory of fallen soldiers
AN ACT of vandalism failed to prevent the Anzac commemorations going ahead in Harefield as planned at the weekend.
The vandals sawed an Australian flagpole and daubed a memorial panel with blue paint at St Mary’s Church yard in Church Hill, where the bodies of more than 100 Australian soldiers killed in the First World War are interred.
The burial site hosted a special Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day service a day later on Saturday afternoon, marking the centenary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign, in which more than 11,000 soldiers from Australia and New Zealand were killed.
councillor Jane Palmer said: “The Anzac commemorations were superbly planned and a fitting tribute to the people who lost their lives. Every year it takes my breath away.
“The vandalism didn’t stop Harefield residents turning out in their hundreds. The village was phenomenal and there were not enough spaces in the church to seat all who came to pay their respects.”
The cemetery is the UK’s primary place of remembrance for Australian First World War casualties and has hosted an annual Anzac Day service, at which local schoolchildren lay flowers on every grave, since 1921.
Representatives of the Australian and New Zealand governments and military were present for the service.
Children from Harefield Junior School performed a concert entitled The Anzacs and Us and the Mayor of Hillingdon, Catherine Dann, opened an Anzac garden ahead of th the commemorations.
Bernadette Lloyd, head te teacher at Harefield In Infants, said: “The ch children remember the Anzac soldiers every year by laying flowers on the graves, so that when the ce ceremony comes everyone can see that the soldiers have been thought about.
“We’ve been contacted by family members in Australia who thank us for what we do.”
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which maintains the site, said the vandalism had been ‘very upsetting’, particularly after all months of work to restore the graves, and Hillingdon Council’s deputy chief executive, Jean Palmer, added: “It was a positive occasion and the vandals who attempted to spoil the day did not succeed.”
n REMEMBRANCE: Daisy, 10, flies the flags for both sides of the hemisphere and (inset) the march to St Mary’s Church Photos by Grant Humphreys www.buyaphototms.co.uk WL152468
n ‘UPSETTING’:‘UPSETTING’ VandalsVd l striket ik at t St Mary’sM ’ Ch Church h