Stevenage Borough Council criticised over war plaque ‘left to rot’

WW Plaque in Stevenage town centre

WW Plaque in Stevenage town centre - Credit: Archant

The grandson of a Second World War veteran has hit out at Stevenage Borough Council after discovering a memorial plaque had been ‘left to rot’.

WW Plaque in Stevenage town centre

WW Plaque in Stevenage town centre - Credit: Archant

Andy Curtis, of Tacitus Close in Stevenage, told the Comet that a plaque commemorating soldiers who served in Burma has been forgotten, with much of the town unaware of its existence.

His grandfather, Stanley Newberry, served as a member of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry Division during the war. Mr Newberry was captured in Singapore in 1942 and served as a prisoner of war for over three years, working on the infamous Burma Railway.

After being liberated in 1945, Mr Newberry returned to the UK and lived in Stevenage for the remainder of his life, working as a joiner. He married fellow resident Rosalyn Knott shortly after and had six children. He died of kidney failure aged 72 in 1987.

Now his grandson is campaigning for the council to replace the plaque, which is located on the outside of the Joyride Platform, opposite the bus station in Stevenage town centre.

Andy's grandfather Walter Newberry

Andy's grandfather Walter Newberry - Credit: Archant

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The memorial bears the name of the North Herts Burma Star Association – which Mr Curtis believes was the first branch to form after the war.

He said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting. When you read about what these men really went through it shakes you to your core. So many people don’t even know where this plaque is.

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“I complained to the council and they said it was a money issue. That’s ridiculous. I know many tradesman who could either clean or replace that sign for next to nothing. People in this town care about our soldiers and the armed forces – doesn’t the council realise that?”

“This is not some kind of personal vendetta between myself and the council. I just want these forgotten soldiers to be properly recognised and given a fitting monument. This one has just been left to rot.”

A spokesman for Stevenage Borough Council said: “We thank Mr Curtis for bringing this to our attention. We are contacting the Burma Star Association and are looking into what we can do to either restore it in its current location or move it to a new location within the town.”

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