HEADSTONES are to be returned to the graves of war heroes after an army of volunteers battled to clean up a disused cemetery.
Markers were removed from the final resting places of four First World War servicemen when Houghton’s Hillside Cemetery fell into disrepair in the 1960s.
But now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has promised new headstones can be erected, after an appeal by the Friends of the Cemetery.
Janice Short, one of the heritage group’s founders, said members were “delighted” with the news.
She said: “The group has been going for 10 years and not long after that, we thought it might be nice to have them back again.
“So much work has gone on, and obviously it is the centenary of the start of the First World War this year.
“It would be absolutely fantastic if it could be done within the four years that mark the centenary.”
All the men are from the Houghton area and believed to have died from influenza or pneumonia.
They are: Arthur Ernest Richardson, who died on March 5, 1919, aged 24, after serving with the Durham Light Infantry; Royal Garrison Artillery man Frederick Henry Place, who died on February 4, 1919, aged 28; Frederick William Wheatley, who served with the York and Lancaster Regiment and passed away on July 29, 1918, aged 28, and 19-year-old James Place, a soldier in the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry, who died on October 12, 1916.
Headstones for the men could take two years to be remade and will be carved from traditional white Portland stone.
Until then, the Friends are busy researching the family trees of the soldiers.
Anyone with information on the servicemen can contact Jan by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.