Vandals desecrate North Shore war memorial

FRESH SCARS: Chris Mullane is incredulous vandals have desecrated a memorial to soldiers killed in battle.
FRESH SCARS: Chris Mullane is incredulous vandals have desecrated a memorial to soldiers killed in battle.

It took years of work to get a war memorial wall on Devonport's Lake Rd but seconds to vandalise it.

Devonport RSA vice president Chris Mullane was off to a meeting organising a World War I commemoration service, just days before the 100th anniversary of its outbreak.

Passing the memorial in his car, he saw something wrong.

Vandals had bent the bright red Anzac metal poppy pinned to the Lake Rd memorial wall and ripped off its black stamen.

"I couldn't believe it, I felt sad and extremely disappointed that someone would disrespect it," Mullane says.

"What was sad was this had taken nearly nine years to get this put in."

The wall was officially unveiled in June this year, and a plaque explaining the memorial's significance had only been installed last week.

"We were about to dedicate this wall," Mullane says.

Surviving World War II veterans are "really, really upset", Mullane says.

"They were so proud they were honouring their mates from the war," he says.

Behind the poppy wall, along the Memorial Drive section of Lake Rd, the RSA eventually hopes to add 25 more plaques to the 62 existing, remembering every man who died in World War II, Mullane says.

According to research, in the first and second world wars, 166 and 87 Devonport men were killed respectively, Mullane says.

The RSA contributed $15,000 to the "substantial" walls and "we were hoping this was vandal-proof. We were hoping people would respect this", he says.

Looking at the now bent and buckled poppy, Mullane believes it was taken to with a crowbar.

Mullane says it will cost about $2000 to replace the Julian Briggs-designed poppy.

The RSA had wanted the memorial walls floodlit to deter vandals, Mullane says.

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board acting chairman Joseph Bergin says it is "particularly sad" the poppy was wrecked on the eve of the start of a year of World War I remembrance.

The local board had topped up the RSA's contribution to building the wall with $25,000, Bergin says.

But "budgetary reasons" had prevented the board from paying for lighting, he says.

"If the RSA thinks that lighting would help prevent vandalism it's worth looking into," Bergin says.

Meanwhile, Bergin has been discussing with local community constables a CCTV camera trial in the "vandalism hotspot" area.

North Shore Times