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WW II soldiers saddened by cemetery desecration
Published on 23 Aug. 2009 12:37 AM IST
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Former soldiers have spoken of their anger after the graves of World War Two comrades were desecrated by thieves in Kohima. Nameplates have been stolen from 17 graves of troops from the 6th Battalion Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire). The thefts happened at the Kohima war cemetery on two occasions – first in the last part of March and the second on July 5. Police suspected that the bronze epitaphs would be sold for scrap. Ex-services chiefs, who recently commemorated VJ Day and the release of many of the Loyals’ 2nd Battalion who were held in Japanese PoW camps, have told of their sadness at the news, according to a report posted on Sinlung’s website. Col Bernard Stam, president of the Preston and District Veterans Council, said: “Sadly, vandalism is part and parcel of everyday life everywhere these days. It does not surprise me when people have stolen the railings from the cenotaph here in Preston. It shows you some people have no respect for the war dead. “If it is a Commonweath War Graves Commission site I’m sure it will be in immaculate condition, which makes it even sadder that the plates have been stolen.” The cemetery in Kohima has been targeted twice by the thieves since March this year. Each nameplate weighed close to 5kg with a scrap value of around £4 per kg. An inspector from the Commonweath War Graves Commission had reportedly earlier inspected the area and urged the need to protect the remains of 1,421 soldiers buried there.However, it has been announced since the thefts that the nameplates would be replaced. The 6th Battalion of the Loyals regiment joined the 2nd Infantry Division in April 1941 and fought the Japanese Army in the Battle of Kohima, in Nagaland in 1944. Of the soldiers who died, 1,070 were British and 330 were Indians.

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