The bronze sculpture with two crossed rifles and a helmet was made to honor fallen WWI soldiers and was placed on top of a cenotaph in the Murrayville Cemetery in Langlay Township.
However, the said cenotaph now only features an empty outline where the sculpture was once placed as thieves have gotten hold of it just weeks before Remembrance Day which is set on November 11 every year.
“Stealing anything from a cemetery is pretty despicable, but this is a more permanent object in memory of those who fought for us,” stated cemetery supervisor Kevin Bunnett who was the first one to notice the missing memorial last September 11 while he was touring the cemetery grounds showing a veteran’s family the cenotaph.
Cemetery staff are unsure about the exact date when the sculpture went missing but after the discovery, they immediately reported the incident to Langley RCMP.
“It seems organized to me. From what I’ve seen in the past at other cemeteries, there’s more than one person usually involved. They work in tandem,” Bunnett added.
The plight of the rifles-helmet sculpture had raised the hackles of the veterans.
Walter Poustie, a retired naval reservist, expressed his anger and disappointment at the thieves who did the deed. He said it is an outright disrespect to Canada’s veterans. It is also very possible that the person who stole the said sculpture had a relative who fought during the First World War.
“Ironically, it made him free to go up there and steal the darn memorial,” he said.
A similar memorial had been stolen from Fort Langley a few years prior to the current stealing but the Murrayville monument was used as a mold for the replacement. If the bronze sculpture is not found soon before the celebration of Remembrance Day, then the Fort Langley copy of it will have to return the favor and be the mold for the remaking of the said sculpture.
But cemetery staffs are fervently hoping the monument will be found before November 11.
Authorities are picking up connections between the recent stealing incident in Murrayville to the thievery that happened in Victoria Memorial Park a month ago where 60 bronze vases were stolen.
A few days after the heist, a vigilant scrap dealer had called the police when 28 vases were delivered into his shop by a Langley woman who had left her ID behind. As of now, police are looking into her identification and investigating her possible link to the recent memorial stealing.
The public is also encouraged to report any relevant information about the case to their local RCMP detachment.