Long Ashton cenotaph vandalised days before D-Day 80th anniversary

A cenotaph in Long Ashton has been vandalised just days before the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The memorial monument is believed to have been deliberately damaged with a flag pole, before the perpetrators attempted to set the statue on fire.

Dave Addis, Secretary to the Long Ashton branch of the Royal British Legion said that the planned commemorations for the D-Day anniversary will still go ahead as scheduled tomorrow and there are plans to repair what can be repaired on the cenotaph monument.

Avon and Somerset Police say officers were called to the reported damage at 11am today (June 5) and the destruction is believed to have taken place between 8pm on Tuesday and 8am today. The force has said it will conduct a 'thorough investigation' into the damage.

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PC James Coglan said: “We fully appreciate the sensitivity around this incident, particularly given the timing, and will be conducting a thorough investigation.

“Enquiries to identify those responsible are ongoing and we would encourage anyone who has any information to contact us.”

Mr Addis said he has been left 'pretty upset' by the incident. There had been plans to set up gazebos tonight ahead of the anniversary event tomorrow, as well as other preperations, but Mr Addis said the risk is 'too high' of further destruction. The cenotaph was brought down by what was to become the flagpole, he added.

It has since been left with burn and scorch marks after the perpetrators attempted to set it alight, but it did not catch properly, Mr Addis said. The planned event in Andrée Peel Park is expected to go ahead as planned tomorrow, with a beacon to be lit in remembrance.

"There are 40 names on the monument in Long Ashton," Mr Addis said. "40 people from Long Ashton were killed in the Second World War. From three-year-old children to pensioners."

The figure includes 20 servicemen. Seven Polish airmen are also remembered after a their plane crashed in the village on November 21, 1944.