The grave of a soldier killed in the First World War was among those attacked by the Poole cemetery vandals, its headstone snapped in half and left in the mud.
The damaged war grave, one of several at the cemetery crafted in Portland stone by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, commemorated Private H Hosking of the Somerset Light Infantry, who was killed on April 27, 1916.
Little is known of his life, except that he died just weeks before the Battle of the Somme, in which his regiment served, and his grave sits alongside the fallen of both world wars.
His headstone was one of the 25 toppled or broken at the weekend. Read the full story from Sunday here.
Stonemason Robin Case said the commission may replace the stone, but if asked they would fix it with a steel rod.
“It is terrible that someone would do this to any grave, but to a war grave shows complete lack of respect,” he said.
Margaret Hamblin, 74, of Oakdale, was among several grieving relatives who discovered her husband’s grave was among those damaged when she visited yesterday, after reading about what happened in the Echo.
“It has obviously been pushed over, but someone has fixed it, which is nice as it would have been awful to come here and see it in pieces,” she said.
“These people are sick.”
Her husband, Graham, died in 2008 of a sudden aneurism while walking their dog Taz, a small model of whom was broken by the vandals.
Their daughter Jane Hill, 54, who accompanied her mum to the site, said: “There are no words to describe the people who would do something like this; what is going on in their minds to think this is fun?”
Others were more fortunate, including 33-year-old Maria Darville, also of Oakdale, who found her father’s grave untouched except for part of a small wooden fence crushed by a fallen headstone.
“I’m just down here in my lunch break to check dad’s grave is okay before my nan comes down,” she said.
“It’s a relief it is mostly okay but she will probably be upset just that this has happened anyway.”
The cemetery, in Dorchester Road, is owned by Borough of Poole, whose Wallisdown-based contractor Excalibur Stone was out righting headstones and repairing damage.
Mason Tom Arnold said: “Our job is to make sure the headstones are stable and safe, as obviously there are people coming to visit these graves today to see if they have been attacked.
“These stones are very heavy – it takes three of us to move them using the right techniques and equipment, so you wouldn’t want one falling on you.”
A 23-year-old from Poole has been arrested and is helping police with their enquiries.
Police are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information to call 101, quoting incident number 26:177, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
The Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s), based in Taunton, saw service on the Western Front, Mesopotamia – now Iraq – and Palestine.
The regiment amalgamated in 1959 to form the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry, and in 1968 to form The Light Infantry.
Finally, in 2007, it was joined with several other infantry regiments to form The Rifles.