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‘Messy’ World War I graves in Sheffield to be inspected

Peter Yates in St Thomas Church graveyard, Holywell Road where the grave of World War One soldier James Dickinson is amongst the over grown weeds and bushes behind which Peter is unhappy about. Picture: Andrew Roe

Peter Yates in St Thomas Church graveyard, Holywell Road where the grave of World War One soldier James Dickinson is amongst the over grown weeds and bushes behind which Peter is unhappy about. Picture: Andrew Roe

Officials from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission are to visit a Sheffield cemetery following concerns about the state of three plots belonging to World War I soldiers.

The Commission, which cares for the graves and memorials of the 1.7 million casualties of the First and Second World Wars, is to carry out further investigations at the former St Thomas church graveyard in Grimesthorpe.

It comes after local man Peter Yates highlighted problems with the grave of Private John James Dickenson, who was 22 when he died in 1916, at the site of the former church on Holywell Road.

Pte Dickenson’s grave has been almost completely covered with Japanese knotweed, and Sheffield Council, responsible for looking after the cemetery, says it cannot work on improving the memorial as it is owned by his family.

Mr Yates also raised concerns about the state of repair of two other World War graves at the cemetery, belonging to Lewis Barwell and William Kent.

Peter Francis, spokesman for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said no other problems with war graves have been reported around Sheffield.

But he said further investigations would now take place into the issue.

Mr Francis said: “We have had no other issues with sites containing war graves in the Sheffield area, and in fact we have an excellent relationship with the council, whose site this is.

“However, I have discussed the matter with my colleagues and one of our regional teams will visit the cemetery and report back to us.

“While at the churchyard the team will try to link up with the relevant authority to see what might be done to address the issues raised.”

Sheffield Council said last week it was treating the Japanese knotweed infestation but could not touch the grave itself.

It said the weed infestation could take years to be eradicated.

 

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