The quaint Buckinghamshire hamlet of Ashendon and Pollicott has become the latest victim in a series of despicable crimes committed across the country against the memory of those who were killed in the First World War.
On Wednesday night, one of the two ‘Silent Soldiers’ displayed by the village was stolen from Pollicott, situated on the main road running between Winchendon and Westcott.
The silhouettes, which were installed on 13 September, represent the memory of the two soldiers from the area who lost their lives in the war, which this week commemorates 100 years since the Armistice, at 11am on 11 November, 1918.
The one that has been cruelly taken was dedicated to Private Walter Ewers of Pollicott, who signed up with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 30 October, 1915, and was sadly killed less than ten months later on 28 August, 1916.
Andrew Cooper, Chairman of the Buckingham and District Royal British Legion said: “My reaction is one of great sadness. The wonderful efforts of so many people, young and old, in all our towns and villages to remember the fallen of the Great War with honour and respect is defamed by such mindless, wicked action.
“I am deeply saddened for the Ashendon community but I am sure that their commitment to the fallen will in no way be diminished by this appalling act.”
Dishearteningly, this is not a one off incident. Since the ‘Silent Soldiers’ began to be erected at the start of this Armistice centenary year, at least 28 have been reported as vandalised or stolen.
Many have been ‘beheaded’ and in Oxfordshire one had seemingly been used as target practice for some type of firearm before being dumped in a ditch.
Siân Miller, a resident of Pollicott, who says she has ties to the soldier’s descendants, wrote on Facebook:
“He lived and worked here and he was fighting for the safe, quiet, friendly community and the loving family he left behind. Whoever stole our soldier, for whatever reason, has stolen the public acknowledgement that the same little community honours and respects him, and his comrades, for leaving their homes and doing something brave and amazing.”
A spokesman for Thames Valley Police, said: "Thames Valley Police received a report yesterday (9/11) of a theft of a WW1 memorial silent soldier silhouette in Ashendon.
"It was reported as being stolen between 5pm on Wednesday (7/11) and 10am on Thursday (8/11).
"Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to call 101 quoting the reference number 43180343207 or to make a report online."