Soldiers listed on the vandalised war memorial in Huish Episcopi
A village war memorial stands vandalised but just a few hundred yards away two brothers commemorated on it are still remembered in their old home.
Reginald Philip and Sidney Clarence Slade, sons of publican William Slade, were among the millions killed in First World War.
Yesterday (Sunday) with Remembrance Day just five days away their family spoke of their sorrow at the vandalism and the importance of honouring those who have given their lives in a century of conflict.
Reg, a Coldstream Guardsman, died, aged 23, in Ypres, Belgium’ on October 29’ 1914. Sid, a Somerset Light Infantryman, died, aged 19, on April 6, 1916.
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They were born in the Rose & Crown public house at Huish Episcopi in Somerset. The famously old-world pub is still kept by the family, and portraits of the brothers, in uniform, still hang on the walls where they were placed more than 90 years ago.
Stephen Pittard and his sisters, Maureen Pittard and Patricia O’Malley, are Sid and Reg’s great nephew and great nieces. Their mother, Eileen, was named after Reg’s fiancée, who stayed in touch with the family and carried a badge belonging to her lost love for the rest of her life.
The family cannot understand why anyone would want to damage the memorial, which has had surrounding stone pillars broken and overturned. It commemorates the 59 war dead from five villages.
Mr Pittard said: “It was really disappointing to see what damage had been done. It seems to be endemic across the country, with the pinching of metal from memorials as well.”
Miss Pittard said: “Armistice Day is always an important day in our family. As well as remembering our grandmother’s brothers, it was the day our grandmother died and also happens to be my birthday. All the men listed on the memorial gave their lives for freedom.”
Mr Pittard added: “The photographs were put up as a tribute when this was the front room as well as part of the pub. It was mum’s front room as well, and natural that they should stay.”
As a teenager Eileen Pittard wrote a poem in memory of the uncles she never knew. It ran:
It’s not this muddy trench I see, but a winding brook and a withy tree. In Somerset.
The sound of battle is wafted away. By sweet apple blossom and new-mown hay. In Somerset.
Cast out the sound of guns and shells, Ring out for me St Mary’s bells. In Somerset.
Oh for a draft of frothy ale. From that stone-flagged cellar remembered well. In Somerset.
Lord cool my head and heated brain. Am I in Flanders or home again? In Somerset.
It is not this muddy trench I see. But a winding brook and a willow tree. In Somerset.