Headstones of First World War veterans' graves pushed over at Houghton cemetery

One of the graves targeted at Houghton's Hillside Cemetery.
One of the graves targeted at Houghton's Hillside Cemetery.

Headstones on the graves of First World War veterans have been pushed over in a sickening attack.

The headstones, at Houghton's Hillside Cemetery, were only put in place in November 2014 after work by volunteers from the Friends of Houghton Hillside Cemetery Group and the Commonwealth War Grave Commission.

Chairman of the Friends group Alastair Bradley told the Echo that the group intends to repair the damage

He said: "We are incensed that such mindless damage could occur and appalled at the behaviour of one pathetic individual.

"With it being the centenary of the First World War this has been particularly disgraceful."

The CWGC is responsible for the care of 170,000 war graves in the UK.

Stephen Liversage, the CWGC’s regional supervisor in the north of England, said: “It is deeply upsetting to see the graves of those who gave their lives for us in two world wars treated in this manner.

"Fortunately, vandalism is extremely rare and in this instance, the Commission is already taking steps to reinstate the headstones to a standard befitting the sacrifice of those they commemorate.”

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Neighbourhood officers are increasing patrols throughout the grounds to help prevent any further incidents and to provide a high visibility police presence to offer reassurance to members of the public visiting the cemetery.”

It is thought the damage was done some time between 5pm on Monday, February 15 and Tuesday, February 16.

Officers are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

Witnesses should contact police on 101 quoting reference 801/160216, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.