As Britain prepares to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, wreaths laid at the foot of Deptford War memorial in remembrance of Lewisham’s fallen soldiers have been set alight in what the Metropolitan Police are calling “an incident of arson and criminal damage”.
Lewisham police were alerted to the fire at the memorial that sits at the junction of Lewisham Way and Upper Brockley Road by a member of thepublic in the early hours of Wednesday morning. They arrived to find charred, burnt wreaths and smoke damage to the base of the Portland stone monument erected in the wake of the Great War in 1921.
Superintendent Neil Evans, of Lewisham police, said: “It is very rare a memorial is vandalised and is naturally an emotive subject … it is particularly insensitive that someone should vandalise a war memorial which helps us remember the sacrifice that many men and women made from around the British Empire.”
Officers from Team B, Lewisham police returned to the monument later on Wednesday morning for a clean up operation. Photographs published on the Lewisham police’s Twitter feed showed them hard at work with buckets and brooms. Locals took to social media to thank them.
No arrests have been made but Detective Constable Adam Pearce, Lewisham CID, has made an appeal to members of the public who may have information to come forward and help track down those responsible:
“We are currently looking at CCTV to see if it will help us identify the perpetrators. If you know the person responsible then please get in contact with us. This was a callous and despicable act especially during a time when we all should be taking a moment to pause, reflect and remember those who died serving their country.”
A Memorial Service for people of all faiths to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War is taking place this Sunday from 4-6pm at St Mary’s Church, Lewisham High Street, SE13 6L.