‘Sickening’ damage to WWI gravestone

Damage to a war grave at Clitheroe Waddington Road Cemetery

Damage to a war grave at Clitheroe Waddington Road Cemetery

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Damage to the Clitheroe grave of a First World War soldier, apparently done to coincide with Remembrance week, has been described as “sickening”.

Private Robert Edward Rushton was just 18 when he died on January 17th, 1919, while serving with the Lancashire Fusiliers. He is the youngest serviceman buried at Clitheroe’s Waddington Road Cemetery, his grave marked by a stone erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

But now that gravestone has been broken off at it’s concrete base in an apparent act of vandalism timed to coincide with Remembrance week in this, the 100th anniversary of Britain joining the First World War.

Whalley man Mel Diack MBE has previously worked with local young people on projects to remember and recognise the Ribble Valley’s war dead, and earlier this year campaigned for improved maintenance of the area’s war graves.

He said he was “sickened” to discover the broken gravestone and so upset by it that he was unable to give a reading at a service of remembrance at the cemetery.

The damage has been reported to the police by Ribble Valley Borough Council, which is responsible for maintaining the cemetery.

A spokesman for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said he would arrange an inspection to see if the gravestone could be repaired or would need to be replaced.