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What a way to treat Milton Keynes war hero

MPMC Walter Perry St Mary's Church

MPMC Walter Perry St Mary's Church

A World War one hero whose churchyard grave has been covered by a dingy SHED for decades could finally be given the centenary spotlight he deserves.

The burial site of Private Walter Perry, who died in 1915, was obliterated when the storage building was built 64 years ago.

Despite pleas from Walter’s family, bosses at Bletchley’s St Mary’s Church have staunchly refused to shift the now ramshackle structure, which also covers the two graves of Walter’s grandparents.

“It’s a dark, dank and horrible building that obviously attracts the wrong kind of people. It’s full of beer bottles, rubbish and even human excrement. To me it is painful beyond belief that my grandfather’s grave should be treated this way,” said Walter’s granddaughter Ann Dallas.

Builders even moved Walter’s headstone without the family’s consent to make way for the shed – despite the fact that his widow had purchased the adjoining plot.

Said Ann, who is 72: “My family had lived in Bletchley since the 16th century and there are seven relatives buried in that area. But my grandmother had to be buried miles away because the shed took up her plot.”

The crunch came this month when Ann visited the site to find the headstone, which is marked with a single poppy, was surrounded by more rubbish than ever.

“I wrote to complain to the Bishop and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but they haven’t replied,” she said.

“The Citizen is my last resort to resolve this atrocity.

“It would be wonderful if, during this WW1 centenary year, the shed could be demolished and my grandfather could be brought out of this horrible dark place and into the light once again.”

Milton Keynes Council maintains the cemetery but the Oxford Diocese is still responsible for the shed. This week a spokesman for the Bishop of Buckingham disputed the grave had been “desecrated” but promised to investigate in the hope of finding a solution. Meanwhile Ann has offered to pay all the costs of demolishing the building, re-landscaping the area and maintaining it in the future.

Sympathetic MP Iain Stewart has joined her campaign. He said: “I was very saddened to learn that the grave of Private Walter Perry has not been treated with the respect it deserves over many years.

“As the world commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 and remembers the ultimate sacrifice that so many made, now is the time to put right this wrong.

“I shall do what I can to liaise between St Mary’s Church and the family and hopefully this can be sorted out.”

A council spokesman said: “Our job is simply to maintain this churchyard but we are extremely sympathetic about this situation and we will do anything we can to help resolve it.”

Railway worker Walter, a dad of three, was a member of the Territorial Army and left his home in Simpson Road to join the army in November 1914. He was wounded during the Battle of Givenchy in December and died of septicaemia the following month. He was 32.

 

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