Vandals target Wigan village's memorial to war heroes

Reverend Andrew Holliday at the Peace Gate at St Wilfrid's Church, Standish, which is closed due to vandalism
Reverend Andrew Holliday at the Peace Gate at St Wilfrid's Church, Standish, which is closed due to vandalism

Vandals have daubed graffiti on a memorial to a Wigan village’s war dead.

The Reverend Andrew Holliday was shocked to discover offensive words inside the Peace Gate at St Wilfrid’s Church in Standish.

Chalk had been used to write words of a sexual nature alongside plaques honouring those killed in the Great War and Second World War.

A small poppy tribute was also damaged.

Mr Holliday said: “Here we are in the 100th anniversary year of the end of the First World War and something we have just had restored has been vandalised by this graffiti.

“It shocked everybody. It’s terribly sad and it’s upset a lot of people.

“One is left with a question - why do they do it? Do they not realise what it is to the community?”

The damage was found on Sunday morning, but it is not known when it was done.

The Peace Gate has now been locked, though it will be opened today for a funeral at the church.

Mr Holliday wanted the police to see the graffiti so an investigation could be launched before it was cleaned up.

He said there had been problems with youths in the area recently.

Mr Holliday said: “We have had a number of issues with young people hanging around the church yard. That seems to have increased over the last few months, which is very sad.

“However angry one gets about it or frustrated by it, it is about showing compassion and forgiveness for the person that’s done it in the first place. It’s such a tragic event for the village and for people for whom it’s an everlasting memorial.”

The Peace Gate was built by public subscription in 1926 as a memorial to the dead of the First World War and the names of those who fell in the Second World War were later added.

There are also bronze plaques inside with the names of miners from local pits who were lost during the Great War.

Restoration work on the Peace Gate was only completed in the summer.

Malcolm Ryding said: “My great uncle Joseph Herbert Ryding is named on one of the plaques at the Peace Gate. He has no known grave having been killed in the First World War while serving with the 12th Manchester Regiment.

“It is sad to see their glorious sacrifice defaced in this way.”

Mr Holliday was trying to contact the police to report the graffiti when he spoke to the Post yesterday.

Anyone with information about what happened is asked to call the police on 101.