Granddaughter's distress at state of WWI grave

29 August 2014

MASONS

THE granddaughter of a soldier who died in the First World War is demanding that his derelict grave in a churchyard is restored.

The soldier, Private Walter Perry, was wounded and died of septicaemia in 1915. He was buried beside his grandparents at St Mary's, Bletchley, his home town, in Buckinghamshire.

Over the years, however, the graves fell into decay, and at least 60 years ago a brick shed was built over part of them. Today, the soldier's headstone (left) is surrounded by bottles and other rubbish, and, Private Perry's granddaughter, Ann Dallas, says, even human excrement.

She told the newspaper Milton Keynes Citizen: "'It would be wonderful if, during this WW1 centenary year, the shed could be demolished and my grandfather could be brought out of this horrible dark place and into the light once again. It's a dark, dank, and horrible building that obviously attracts the wrong kind of people. To me, it is painful beyond belief that my grandfather's grave should be treated this way.

"I believe it is a criminal offence to desecrate a war grave. He fought for our country, and his grave has been treated with no respect whatsoever."

Mrs Dallas, who is 72, and lives in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, said that both her grandmother and mother had tried unsuccessfully to have the grave restored. "'My family had lived in Bletchley since the 16th century, and there are seven relatives buried in that area. But my grandmother had to be buried miles away because the shed took up her plot. Every time my mother and I tried to do something about this, we got the brush-off."

She has now offered to pay for the shed's demolition, and re-landscaping and future maintenance of the grave. "I just don't want to be the third generation of my family not to see this resolved," she said.

An Oxford diocesan spokeswoman said that the diocese had been unaware of the apparent history of the grave until Mrs Dallas emailed the Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson, and he contacted her the same day. The Bishop has also contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Milton Keynes Council, and it is hoped that the shed will be demolished in the near future.

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