Heartless thieves have stolen
at least two bunches of flowers from an Eastbourne war memorial that were laid in memory of victims on board HMS Penelope.
Sandra Field and April Sambora both placed flowers on the Cornfield roundabout memorial at separate times on Tuesday, February 18 to remember their respective relatives, only to discover a couple of days later that both bunches had been taken.
HMS Penelope was a cruiser that was struck by enemy torpedoes on February 18, 1944. More than 400 people lost their lives.
Miss Sambora, whose family has lived in Eastbourne since the 90s, said, “My great grandad, Eric Chapman, was the stores assistant on the ship and stood no chance when she was torpedoed twice by U-Boat 410.
“We have always been immensely proud of my grandad, and both my great-nan and nan loved him so dearly that neither ever got over his sudden and cruel demise.
“Putting some flowers at the memorial was our way of letting my grandad and his fallen crew mates know we had not forgotten them or what they did for us as a nation in the war.
“Imagine my disgust when I drove past two days later to find our flowers had gone. To me, stealing from a war memorial is no different to stealing from a grave. Many of the Armed Forces who lost their lives were unable to be gifted the dignity of a grave, so a memorial is the closest thing lots of families have to pay their respects to.
“In future, my family and I will pay our respects elsewhere. At least then our flowers might be in danger of being left alone.”
Sandra Field also labelled the culprit ‘a coward’ and said, “I know my granddad died for our freedom but I am sure he didn’t die so someone could steal the flowers left for him.
“Apart from this coward, I am sure the people of Eastbourne would be very proud of my granddad.”