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Royal British Legion shock as First World War commemorative figure is vandalised

PUBLISHED: 10:43 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:45 16 October 2018

Sheringham Royal British Legion standard bearer Eddie Mayall with the 'There But Not There' First World War commemorative figure, which was decapitated by vandals. 
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Sheringham Royal British Legion standard bearer Eddie Mayall with the 'There But Not There' First World War commemorative figure, which was decapitated by vandals. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

Sheringham Royal British Legion (RBL) members have condemned “heartless vandals” who decapitated a haunting perspex silhouette they placed on a bench next to the town war memorial to honour those who lost their lives in the First World War.

The transparent ‘Tommy’ was one of hundreds of figures created by ex-service men and women as part of ‘There But Not There’, a project run by newly-founded charity Remembered, which was set up to commemorate the fallen, educate younger generations and raise funds for forces charities including Help for Heroes, Walking With The Wounded and Combat Stress.

The scheme aims to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War by placing figures representing every name on local war memorials in churches, schools and community buildings around the country.

Sheringham RBL standard bearer Eddie Mayall fixed the figure to the bench a week ago and returned to check on it every day.

However, on visiting the war memorial at the weekend, the former firefighter discovered the head of the silhouette had been snapped off and thrown on the ground.

“I was just lost for words and I couldn’t believe that whoever did this could not understand its significance,” he said. “I almost knew this was going to happen, but you’d like to think that it would be respected; it is such an amazing, moving idea that really gets you thinking that the names we read out on Remembrance Sunday were people with lives and personalities.”

The £42 figure, which was securely fixed to the bench with cable ties, is part of a series of First World War centenary events being organised in the town, including a concert hosted by Sheringham and Cromer Choral Society at St Peter’s Church on November 10, a beacon lighting ceremony, and a Sheringham Women’s Institute art installation featuring hundreds of stitched and knitted poppies made by local people.

Mr Mayall, who visited Ypres with fellow RBL members earlier in the year, is now looking at either repairing, or replacing the damaged figure.

He said: “The reality of what happened a hundred years ago is as poignant and vivid as ever and I can only hope that whoever did this will one day come to realise the sacrifices that were made for them to have the freedom of choice they have today.”

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