The Clitheroe community has come together to voice outrage and disgust at the desecration of the grave of the youngest serviceman from the First World War buried at Clitheroe Cemetery.
The targeted act of vandalism has been condemned by many as “absolutely disgusting” and “completely mindless”.
The headstone of Private Robert Edward Rushton was discovered to have been forcibly removed from the ground as people arrived at a grave side gathering to honour The Fallen from armed conflicts at an Armistice day ceremony.
Private Rushton served with the 6th Reserve Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers and was just 18 when he died in active service of acute appendicitis.
He was the son of William and Katherine Rushton, who lived in Brownlow Street, Clitheroe.
Ribble Valley community stalwart Mel Diack, who organised the remembrance ceremony and is also involved in the ongoing campaign to maintain war graves in the Ribble Valley said: “I was astonished, on approaching the grave, to see the headstone laid flat. We could see that it had been forcibly broken at the base and it must have taken a massive amount of effort, probably with specialist tools, for whoever has done this to have broken the stone from its base completely.
“I am completely bewildered and have no understanding as to why anyone would be against wanting to preserve and protect the graves of servicemen and women’s, the very people who died for our freedom and liberty. I am very sorry for this young soldier who should have been left in peace and looked after with dignity.”