Yobs burn Navy flag honouring war veterans
THREE “yobs” who stole flags marking Armed Forces Day and set one on fire are being hunted by police.
The despicable act which occurred on Sunday night has left veterans distraught and disgusted.
The youths pulled down a Royal Navy white ensign and Union flag from poles outside the Royal British Legion in Patchway as members were remembering fallen friends and relatives over drinks inside.
The teenagers responsible were chased to Norman Scott Park, where they taunted their pursuers before showing the ultimate disrespect by setting fire to the Navy flag.
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Saturday was Armed Forces Day and on Sunday a service had been held to mark the occasion.
At the cenotaph on Rodway Road four flags had been raised, including the RAF ensign and an Army flag.
But the day was ruined when the thieves struck at about 7.35pm.
Barmaid Maggie Hall was one of several people who chased the culprits.
She told the Evening Post: “One of the other staff came in and said ‘Has anybody given permission to take the flags down?’
“They had stolen the Navy flag and the Union flag and taken off down Rodway Road with a member of the public running after them.
“I followed them down to the junction of Durban Road, by which time they were going down Windermere Road,” the 49-year- old added.
“The lad who had the Union flag turned round and taunted me with it.
“They took off across the park and set fire to the Navy flag in front of the man who was chasing them before running off towards Bradley Road.
“Everyone is absolutely distraught about it, especially as it was Armed Forces Day.
“To the lads who stole them they might have just been flags, but to the members of the Legion it means so much more. They’re all very upset.”
Parade marshal and Royal Corps of Transport veteran Alf Sollars said: “It just makes you wonder, when will it stop if they can desecrate a memorial like this? It’s an absolute disgrace.
“They’re little yobs and people in Patchway need to know what these kids are up to.”
Mr Sollars’ nine years in the forces included service in Germany and Northern Ireland.
The 58-year-old added: “Burning the flag like that gives a kicking to all the soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and all the brave people who have died over the years, fighting for these young people.”
Avon and Somerset police spokeswoman Claire Stanley said police attended the incident and recovered the remains of a military flag.
She said: “Officers are appealing for witnesses and information on three young men, all believed to be white and in their late teens, who were seen to take the flags in question and make off towards Norman Scott Park.”
No arrests have yet been made and police will be reviewing CCTV in the area. Anyone with information should call Avon and Somerset police on 0845 456 7000.