Fury over pile of soil dumped on war hero’s grave

William Cowley's grave soiled
William Cowley's grave soiled

A DISTRAUGHT family from Hucknall have hit out after finding the grave of a war-veteran relative piled high with soil — on Remembrance Sunday.

The group went to visit the burial plot of William Cowley at Hucknall Cemetery, off Broomhill Road, last weekend.

The family make the pilgrimage every year, immediately after attending the emotive Remembrance service on the second Sunday in November at the cenotaph at neighbouring Titchfield Park.

William served during the First World War and is buried with wife Maude.

Relatives, who have asked not to be named, say they were “shocked and dismayed” when they were greeted by piles of earth, penned in by large sheets of wood, sat on top of the Cowleys’ burial site.

A spokeswoman for the family said: “We were all very upset. We’ve never come across anything like this before. We visit the grave regularly.

“We always go there after the Remembrance Sunday service to pay our respects and to lay poppies. It is disgusting really.”

The family contacted Ashfield District Council, which owns the cemetery and is responsible for its management.

It is understood that the soil came from an adjacent grave that was opened last Friday in preparation for a funeral on Monday.

While the council apologised for any distress, the family say they were told that the earth being piled up was in accordance with usual policy.

But the family aren’t prepared to accept this and have submitted a formal complaint to the council.

The spokeswoman said: “The residents of Hucknall, who may have relatives buried at the cemetery, need to know that this is going on.

“We didn’t even get a letter informing us this was happening. What’s more, the timing couldn’t have been worse with it being Remembrance Sunday.

“A simple letter, sent to us to let us know this was happening, would have helped. But instead, we came face to face with a pile of dirt on our relative’s grave.

“It is disgraceful. I think the council should hold a review of its policies on this matter.”

In the past, the council has faced criticism about the flooding of graves at the cemetery and a decision to stake headstones that health and safety inspectors deemed were unsafe after conducting ‘topple tests’.

A spokesman for the council said: “Our cemeteries follow set procedures that are in place with all local councils nationally.

“When a grave, which is adjacent to other graves, is re-opened, the spoil cannot be removed from the site and, therefore, the council has no alternative but to store it neatly on the next grave.

“This practice is a necessity and is carried out as efficiently and respectfully as possible.

“The council understands that this is an emotive issue and issues apologies to the family involved for any upset caused.”