Veterans sick to their stomach

UPDATE: A teenager has come forward and said he was at fault for the damage to the memorial.

The young boy was on the memorial on Friday, when the column toppled off. Warilla RSL Sub-Branch said the boy was very remorseful for his actions and the family confirmed they will cover all the repair costs. 

THE veteran community woke to great shock this morning.

The secretary of Warilla RSL Sub-Branch discovered the Shellharbour Village War Memorial had been vandalised.

The one-metre-high Carrara marble finial, that was replaced four years ago and part of a $25,000 refurbishment completed just a few months earlier, had been knocked from the top of the memorial.

“It’s like desecrating a grave,” Kim Kearney the president of Warilla Sub-branch said.

“It makes me sick to my stomach. It’s the oldest war memorial in Australia, pre-dating federation.

“Through fundraising money from the community, State Government, and various clubs, we spent $25,000 on rebuilding this monument and it was only finished a few days before Anzac Day this year.”

Mr Kearney said the recent winds could not be blamed for the removal of the column.

“It took three of us to lift it up. The column is held down by metal pins and the top tier is held in place by a mix of concrete and special adhesive,” he said.

“It actually fell in the opposite direction to the wind as well, to the north west and damaged one of the flag poles during the fall. There are numerous chips to the finial, on the top tier and on the base.”

Mr Kearney said there were 47 commemorative services scheduled to be held at the memorial as part of the Centenary over the next three years, the first one to be held will be the Declaration of War on August 4.

“We don’t own the memorial, the community does. We are just the custodians and we are just trying to maintain it for the whole community,” Mr Kearney said.

Police have been notified about the incident. The cost and timeframe for the fixing of the memorial is yet to be established.

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