AN Examiner story about a neglected war grave prompted concerns about others. Reporter BARRY GIBSON found those concerns are more than justified.
IN two weeks time, Huddersfield will fall silent as people across the town pay tribute to the war dead.
But who tends to the memory of these men and women for the other 364 days of the year?
Yesterday I visited two abandoned Huddersfield cemeteries and found that some of those who gave their lives for the country have been forgotten, their graves left to rot under thorns and brambles.
I began at Deighton Methodist Church burial ground.
The small cemetery is overgrown with weeds, brambles and thorns.
I am more than six feet tall, but some of the vegetation was above my head. A few of the gravestones were tilting alarmingly, while others had already given in to gravity after years of neglect.
Walking down the single identifiable path in the cemetery, I found the memorial of Joe Dyson.
After I pulled the thorns from the gravestone, I discovered that he died aged 21 on May 23, 1917, at Ypres, the Belgian town which was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in the First World War.
“His country called and he answered,” is the tribute chiselled into stone and now lost beneath the undergrowth.
Deeper into the cemetery is the grave of Pt Alfred Castle Taylor, who died in Cannock Chase Military Hospital on January 12, 1918, at the age of 19.
The area around his resting place appears to have been tended recently, there are no thorns and only a few leaves.
But nearby is the memorial of Frank Arthur Pilkington, which is covered in vegetation.
The 19-year-old died of his wounds at the military hospital in the French town of Le Treport on July 16, 1917.
From Deighton, I drove to Longwood to visit the abandoned cemetery at Lamb Hall Road.
The old Wesleyan church has been demolished and the Sunday school converted to flats. But the graveyard remains and appears to have been allowed to return to nature.
If anything, it is even more overgrown than the cemetery in Deighton, with some graves completely engulfed by vegetation.
The graveyard is full of dead trees whose seemingly sturdy branches snapped off in my hand.
Trampling down the brambles, I found the grave of Rachel and John Crowther, who died in the 1930s.
The grave, which has leaves and bits of blue plastic on it, records that their son Arnold was killed in action on July 3, 1917.
The 24-year-old is buried at Brandhoek in Belgium.
A few yards away, through the undergrowth, I found another Crowther.
Once I pulled the branches from the grave, I discovered that Percy Crowther drowned while on active service on June 9, 1917 at the age of just 17.
After nearly an hour in the cemetery, I gave up the search for more ex-servicemen’s final resting places.
There are dozens of headstones which have been enveloped by the undergrowth. It would take a machete to get to them.
Perhaps, buried beneath the thorns, there are more graves to those who gave their lives for the country.