TWO gravestones destroyed in the Albury War Cemetery honour an Australian soldier born on Christmas Day and an Englishman who served in the Royal Navy, it emerged yesterday.
The headstones on the graves of Craftsman Ernest Edward Field and Petty Officer Francis Hale were smashed this week, with the damage likely to cost up to $4000 to repair.
Dismay at the destruction grew yesterday with Albury and District War Widows’ Guild Club president Val Evans supporting comments from Albury RSL leaders Graham Docksey and Mark Dando.
Mrs Evans said she was in disbelief when she heard about it.
“They have been destroyed just after Legacy Week,” she said.
“They can’t keep doing this sort of thing.
“I remember a few years ago eight of the headstones were broken just before Anzac Day and couldn’t be replaced in time.”
War records showed Craftsman Field was born at Glenrowan and served in the 2nd AIF in North Africa, repairing and maintaining tanks for three years, later working on armoured vehicles at Bandiana.
He was 39 when he fell from a moving truck and was fatally injured.
Petty Officer Hale was from Plymouth and served on HMS Black Prince, a cruiser that took part in the D-Day landings and in a naval bombardment of Japan.
He died at the Bonegilla military hospital from an illness at 43, leaving his wife, Florence.
Mrs Evans said she did not think the vandals would be apprehended.
“It makes it hard for police because it is pretty isolated and dark at night and no houses are close enough to hear what’s going on,” she said.
Director of the Office of Australian War Graves Brigadier Chris Appleton condemned the culprits’ actions.
“Broken headstones were removed and (my) staff replaced the headstones with temporary grave markers,” he said yesterday.
“Arrangements are under way to restore the cemetery in time for Remembrance Day, November 11.”