Wardead of Dagenham one step closer to memorial as widower fights council snub
PUBLISHED: 11:48 28 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:48 28 July 2017
A widower who was told forgotten war heroes including a 19-year-old RAF pilot buried in Eastbrookend Cemetery, Dagenham, would not be memorialised has forced the council to reconsider.
Retired engineer Dave Rose, who lives in Halbutt Street, Dagenham, has visited the cemetery every day since wife Rita was buried there on May 4, 2011, after dying of cancer aged 67.
Visiting in November 2016, he felt “something was missing” and he realised there wasn’t a memorial for the cemetery’s 31 wardead, where one soldier’s body lies with other corpses in a “pauper’s grave”.
“It’s unbelievable,” the 77-year-old said. “We need a proper memorial with all the soldiers’ names on.”
He expressed concerns to Pat Harding, of nearby Park Drive, who has 11 relatives buried in the cemetery and was left “fuming” and “absolutely outraged” at Dagenham wardead being forgotten unlike the Men of Barking listed on Barking Park’s memorial.
They contacted Barking MP Margaret Hodge and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, who wrote to the council.
Dame Margaret received a reply on Wednesday, April 19, from director of public realm Alan Bowley saying there are “no plans to place a war memorial” in the cemetery.
He said the Men of Barking memorial in Barking Park was the “primary memorial within the borough” despite most of Dagenham’s wardead dying before Barking and Dagenham merged to form a London borough in 1965.
Jon Cruddas MP received an almost identical reply from head of parks and environment Paul Clark and was shocked part of Dagenham’s contribution to the war effort was not being acknowledged.
“It is difficult to comprehend why the council cannot find a suitable memorial site,” he said. “As a country we have always vowed to honour those who served and died for us to enjoy our freedoms today.”
After the Post contacted the council on Wednesday, July 26, council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell pledged on Friday, July 28, to consider plans for a memorial in the cemetery.
“I very much value the contributions of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms,” he said. “I will be contacting Pat Harding and Dave Rose to look at their requests in detail.”