Outrage at cemetery vandalism

WA RSL president Graham Edwards shows the metal plugs that stonemason Ronnie Coltman, in background, may have to replace. Pictures: Jon Bassett
WA RSL president Graham Edwards shows the metal plugs that stonemason Ronnie Coltman, in background, may have to replace. Pictures: Jon Bassett

‘This is not just an attempted theft for profit, it’s an attempted theft of the heritage of the Anzacs and it sacreligiously disturbs the peace of all those who are buried here and the peace of mind of all Australians,’ Mr Edwards said.

The vandals used a crowbar to try to remove the Swords of Sacrifice on either side of the four-metre high cross in the cemetery overnight between March 29 and 30.

Bronze, which can sell secondhand for up to $6/kg, is sought after by thieves.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains site, containing the graves of Australian, British, New Zealand, Canadian, Hong Kong and Dutch veterans from World War I and World War II who died in the conflicts or while in post-service care.

The swords feature in all Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries.

The vandals were thwarted by large metal plugs that secured the swords to the cross and a main bolt that ran through all three sections of the memorial.

‘It’s a tribute to the builders that the design is as enduring as people’s remembrance of these men who sacrificed their all,’ Mr Edwards said, before calling for a review of security and lighting at the cemetery.

No damage to graves was reported and a guard was posted at the cemetery last week.

A Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman said security would be reviewed and the damage to the cross, including replacing the swords, could cost about $20,000.

Wembley police are investigating the attempted thefts.