MILITARY graves are being abandoned, a former Army serviceman fears.
Concern is mounting that Britain’s dead from two world wars are in danger of being forgotten as the years move on with overgrown plants destroying graves of fallen servicemen.
The problems have been highlighted by Meltham man Derek Spence who says the 70-year-old grave of RAF crewman Roy Secker is one of two military graves in Huddersfield that have been forgotten about.
And he feels they should be restored in time for Remembrance Day next month.
Members of the town’s Royal British Legion say unkept and abandoned graves could be cared for by a new charity to ensure their survival.
The graves are at St Luke’s Church on Manchester Road near Milnsbridge.
The church was sold by the Wakefield Diocese more than a decade ago but is still lying empty and Mr Spence says its graveyard has become overgrown and the headstones are not maintained.
Royal British Legion secretary Bob Mortimer said: “We need to really get to the bottom of who is responsible for their upkeep.
“We really need a charity to raise funds for their upkeep if no-one is going to tend to them.”
Mr Spence, 73, said he first visited the Second World War grave as a child with Mr Secker’s mother, when he was living with the family in the area.
The RAF gunner died in July 1941 aged just 19.
With Armistice Day looming, Mr Spence said he thought Roy’s grave and another of Private JW Long from the West Yorkshire Regiment had been forgotten about and should be spruced up.
He said: “During the war I lived with the Secker family. The first time I went to see it was with his mother in 1942.
“I stayed with the Secker family on George Street because my mother worked nights at David Brown’s and my father worked days at Crowther’s.”
“In 1955 when I joined the Army, St Luke’s was my local church but everything is closed now.
“I think the graveyard should be maintained. It needs straightening up.
“I was disappointed to see Roy’s grave almost hidden by overgrown bushes.
“This airman gave his life and is now ignored by the keepers of this graveyard.
“We must never forget the sacrifices these young men made. It is Remembrance Sunday next month. Is Roy Secker’s sacrifice going to be remembered or forgotten?”
Mr Spence served in the Royal Army Service Corps from 1955 to 1958.
A spokesman for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said they maintained 1.7m graves at 23,000 locations in 153 countries.
Of those, 170,000 are in the UK at 13,000 locations.
The spokesman said: “We usually have an agreement with a third party such as the local authority for maintenance but we’re not responsible for the burial ground as a whole.
“But Aircraftman Secker’s grave is a war grave and is part of our commitment and we do have a duty of care.
“When someone died of wounds or disease their family could bury them where they wanted so it’s a massive task keeping on top of the maintenance.
“But we do all we can to make sure the efforts of our war heroes are not forgotten.”
l Do you know of any war graves in the Huddersfield area that have been abandoned? If so, please call our newsdesk on 01484 437712.