Vandals wreck grave of Victoria Cross hero
The grave of a Victoria Cross hero at a Black Country churchyard has been desecrated by vandals.
Yobs targeted the grave of Zulu War veteran Colour Sergeant Anthony Clarke Booth – who famously covered the retreat of fellow soldiers for three miles as they came under attack from hordes of Zulu warriors in 1879.
Gary Stapleton, chief executive officer of the Victoria Cross Trust, said it was only the second time he knew of a Victoria Cross recipient’s grave being desecrated in the country in recent times. The trust is now seeking to repair and restore the grave at St Michael’s Church in Bell Street South, Brierley Hill.
Sgt Booth, who lived in William Street, Brierley Hill, served with the 80th Regiment of Foot – later becoming the South Staffordshire Regiment.
The trust was alerted to the damage on Tuesday and Mr Stapleton yesterday visited the grave to assess the damage.
He said: “It is very rare to see vandalism of a Victoria Cross grave, I have only known of one other which has been desecrated by vandals and that was William Coltman’s in Burton, Staffordshire.
"Two or three people have deliberately pushed this over.
This is a man of national importance who received the highest award you can get in this country.”
The damage was discovered by Zulu War historian Jonathan Graham, who had visited the grave to take photographs.
The headstone has come away from the kerb stones at its base and there is damage to some lettering and scratches.
Experts from the trust are drawing up plans to wash the headstone and return it to its position using modern techniques to prevent it happening again.
Rev David Hoskin, rector in Brierley Hill, said: “Brierley Hill is proud of having a Victoria Cross recipient among their number. This is sad and it will be great to have it renewed.”
The matter has not yet been reported to police.