Peace garden vandalism shocks veterans
Veterans of the Normandy D-Day landings have been left shocked and disgusted after the Normandy Garden of Peace in Castle Park was vandalised.
Two plaques marking the Omaha and Utah beaches are currently missing and one of the five trees has been partly stripped of its bark.
Stan Jarvis from the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA) said: “I’m disgusted with the people who did this. They cannot accept the memories that we cherish. This is such a stupid thing to do.”
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Mr Jarvis, 84, from Bedminster, is the former secretary of the Bristol branch of the NVA. He is now a member of the association’s national council.
The Normandy Garden of Peace was opened on November 5, 1995 and commemorates the Normandy Landings of 1944, when 130,000 allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy – codenamed Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah – at the start of Operation Overlord.
The garden in Castle Park has five silver birch trees to mark the five beaches and five plaques used to sit underneath each tree until two were forcibly removed.
Mr Jarvis, who landed on Sword beach, said that he would like to see the trees replaced with stone to make a more permanent memorial.
He said: “This is the second time that the garden has been damaged and people are sadly likely to do so again.
“We are continuing to meet there twice a year on the anniversary of the landings, and on Remembrance Day, and will continue to meet there, but let’s face it, we are not getting any younger. I think something more permanent such as five stones would be much better.”
There are 140 members in the Bristol branch of the NVA, who meet up regularly and also travel to Normandy to the site of the landings.
“Our memories are still very strong,” Mr Jarvis added. “I have been to Normandy many times in the last few years and I still see grown men cry, remembering the people we left behind.”
One of the vandalised plaques has been recovered by park keeper David Trigger but the other is still missing and he said only the beaches that American forces landed on are vandalised.
Two other memorial plaques and trees in the park, one marking the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks and the other to Ann Frank, have also been vandalised in recent years.