Harry Patch Memorial Missing
News

Memorial Stone To Last WWI Survivor Goes Missing

A memorial stone which was laid by Britains last survivor of the Great War trenches has gone missing from a plinth in Belgium.

Harry Patch Memorial Missing

A memorial stone which was laid by Britains last survivor of the Great War trenches has gone missing from a plinth in Belgium.

Harry Patch, who died in 2009 at the age of 111, was the last surviving British soldier of World War One and attended the memorials unveiling back in 2008.

The memorial stone, which was brought by Mr Patch, was reported missing in mid-July and its whereabouts remain unknown.

Since it was reported missing, an online crowdfunding page to replace the stone, reached 1,500 euros in less than five hours of it going live.

The funding means the stone can be replaced.

Harry patch PA File photo dated: 11/11/08
Harry Patch, pictured left, in 2008 at Downing Street (Pictures: PA Images)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) said it was "outraged" at the theft and welcomed a funding appeal to replace the memorial.

“It beggars belief that someone would take a memorial to a man who typified the service and sacrifice of millions of young men during the First World War. Whomever has done so should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

"The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is outraged at the theft and we are fully supportive of the efforts being made to replace the memorial as quickly as possible.”

The missing memorial was spotted by members of the RAF Air Cadets visiting the western Flanders region from Somerset.

WWI memorial stone Pictures: Simon Louagie/PA
Pictures: Simon Louagie/PA

Nick Tolson, chairman of the 914 (Glastonbury and Street) Squadron, said his wife Alison, who is officer-in-charge of the Squadron, had travelled to Belgium with a dozen cadets.

"Alison promised Harry face-to-face that she would look after the memorial," Mr Tolson told the BBC.

"It marked the point where he crossed the Steenbeek brook in 1917 where three men were killed and Harry was injured before the attack on Langemarck.

"The stone was paid for by Harry and he organised it. Harry would be absolutely gutted, he was such a peaceful gentleman."