‘It’s a disgrace’: relative hits out over neglected war memorial

Boxmoor war memorial, Hemel Hempstead
Boxmoor war memorial, Hemel Hempstead

The condition of a prominent war memorial has been branded a ‘disgrace’ by the family of a soldier who died serving in the Second World War.

The stone monument outside St John’s Church in Boxmoor bears the names of hundreds of local men who lost their lives in conflict.

Boxmoor war memorial, Hemel Hempstead

Boxmoor war memorial, Hemel Hempstead

But an 80-year-old relative, who wished to remain anonymous, says that many of the names are now illegible because of poor maintenance.

he gentleman, who lives in Boxmoor and is an ex-serviceman himself, said: “I think it’s disgraceful. There is a lot of what looks like fungus or algae covering the memorial.

“These men gave their lives for our freedom, and you can’t even read their names. When I eventually found my cousin’s name, I tried to clean it myself.

“But someone needs to cover it with some anti-fungal solution, to stop the moss growing.

“A family member is on holiday in France and she visited a war cemetery.

“She sent me a photo and all the gravestones are clean, because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks after them.”

Each year the memorial serves as the final destination of the Royal British Legion’s Remembrance Sunday march through town, before local dignitaries pay their respects by laying poppy wreaths.

As well as honouring those who died in the First and Second World War, the memorial also bears the names of soldiers who died in more recent conflicts such as the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.

Recalling his lost cousin, the born-and-bred Hemel relative said: “He was just 23 when he died. He was just a boy really. He was shot down helping the French Resistance on the July 21, 1944. I was nine years old and I still remember him. He used to talk to me.”

Despite searches of local records by Dacorum Borough Council it is not clear who owns the war memorial, but the authority says it will be doing maintenance work in the near future.

James Deane, corporate director of finance and operations at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “We are committed to ensuring that the memorial continues to be an appropriate 
commemoration for our local soldiers who lost their lives.

“As such, we will be carrying out cleaning and maintenance to this historic and well-loved memorial.”

A document published by Historic England last year stated: “Deterioration as a result of weathering, structural movement or human intervention is an inevitable part of the history of any memorial.

“Its conservation or repair should be a logical process that aims to reduce or remove the causes of deterioration, address any causes of structural instability and provide physical security.”

What do you think? Comment below or email thegazette@jpress.co.uk