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Family of Dagenham war hero banned from marking grave

PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 November 2014

(L-R) MP Jon Cruddas, Arthur Simmonds & Ted Pryor. Arthur & Ted's  grandfather, who was a war veteran, lies in an unmarked grave in Eastbrookend Cemetery. The family has been told by the council they can't place a memorial stone there because it's a public grave, not a privately owned one (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

(L-R) MP Jon Cruddas, Arthur Simmonds & Ted Pryor. Arthur & Ted's grandfather, who was a war veteran, lies in an unmarked grave in Eastbrookend Cemetery. The family has been told by the council they can't place a memorial stone there because it's a public grave, not a privately owned one (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Archant

The grandson of a First World War veteran who lies in an unmarked grave in Dagenham has been told he can’t place a memorial stone on his grandfather’s plot.

Arthur Bradford, front left, who fought in the First World War Arthur Bradford, front left, who fought in the First World War

Now two MPs have joined forces to try and get Barking and Dagenham Council to reverse its decision over Arthur Bradford’s grave.

Arthur Simmonds, the grandson – who is now 77 – lives in Kingston Road, Romford.

“I was disappointed to see he wasn’t being treated like the hero he was,” he said. “I feel as it’s the 100th year since the war, all soldiers should be appreciated.”

In 1915, at 26, Arthur Bradford enlisted in the seventh City of London Regiment and was sent to France.

But he was caught up in a gas attack soon after joining and sent home to Valence Circus, Dagenham. He suffered severe chest infections for the rest of his life and died aged just 42 in 1931.

His family had little money to put towards his burial, and his grave in Eastbrook Cemetery was left without a memorial stone.

The younger Arthur identified his granddad’s resting place from cemetery records a couple of years ago and decided it was time to mark it properly.

But now the council has said the plot itself is a “common grave” – meaning more than one person is buried there and no one can place a permanent memorial on it.

“Over in France and Belgium they’ve been looking after thousands of British graves and they’re spick and span,” Arthur told the Post. “But we can’t really honour my granddad.”

Now Jon Cruddas, Dagenham and Rainham MP, has taken up his cause – along with Arthur’s MP Andrew Rosindell.

“It’s extremely important to give recognition to those who gave their lives during the war,” Mr Cruddas said.

“Andrew and I are united in showing our support, especially at this time when everyone who fought for us should be shown respect.”

The council said it would “continue to honour the sacrifice made by those who have served our country so bravely” but couldn’t do as Arthur Simmonds had asked.

“No memorial rights exist on public or common graves so one cannot put up any headstone or other memorial,” said a spokesman.

“However, we will be happy to speak with the family to see how their wishes may be taken forward.”

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