Despicable ... Albury war graves smashed

VANDALS have “sickened” the Albury RSL club by destroying the graves of eight soldiers just three weeks before Anzac Day.

A member of the Office of Australian War Graves yesterday visited the Albury War Cemetery, on the eastern side of Waugh Road, just after 4pm to find two headstones lying in pieces on the ground.

Six more headstones had either the top or left-hand corners knocked off.

Debris was scattered up to 3m away, with an Anzac symbol lying in pieces on the ground.

The attack is believed to have occurred sometime over the past two days as workers did not see any damage while they were at the cemetery at the weekend.

Albury RSL Club secretary Des Bailey said the attack was “sickening” and “gobsmacking” and president Mick Fowler could not fathom how anybody could show such disrespect to soldiers who gave their lives for Australia.

“Whoever did this must not have had any family linkage to Australia’s military war history because if they had a relative who died fighting for their country they would not have done it,” he said.

“I don’t care whether it was vandals, children, drunks or whoever.

“I absolutely abhor their behaviour.”

Mr Fowler said it was impossible for the vandal not to have known that it was Australian war graves they were desecrating.

The servicemen are buried in a separate, fenced section of the cemetery with lawns and specially designed headstones engraved with the Anzac symbol, soldier’s rank, name and the year they died.

“If someone has gone in there armed with a sledgehammer then they went in there with intent to demolish property,” he said.

“I just can’t figure out what that intent was.”

The eight headstones that were damaged belonged to soldiers mostly aged in their mid-20s, although the youngest was 18 and the oldest was 63.

They came from Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia but Mr Fowler said all must have had some connection to the Border to have been buried here.

Bob Archer, the Victorian state manager of the Office of Australian War Graves, said their headstones were made of yule marble found in northern NSW or Queensland.

Replacement headstones would be ordered at a cost of $2000 each and might take up to eight weeks to arrive in Albury.

This is at least five weeks after an annual Anzac Day service held in the grounds.

“These cemeteries were made shortly after 1919 because

people wanted somewhere to show their respects to servicemen who fought for our country,” Mr Fowler said.

“Up to 60 people carry on this tradition by attending a special ceremony straight after the dawn service every year.”

Mr Fowler has urged anyone with information to contact police or Crime Stoppers.