Retiree heartbroken by attack on memorial to crashed bomber crew

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A retiree described how he cried and was left “heartbroken” after flags and poppies were targeted by vandals at the memorial he hands to the crew of a crashed US bomber, so that thousands of people gathered to enjoy the sun.

Tony Foulds, 84, said American flags were ripped and torn as remembrance poppies emerged from flowerpots at Endcliffe Park, Sheffield on Tuesday.

The park was packed with thousands of people on Tuesday and Wednesday, sparking widespread concern over the risks of Covid-19 and the seven tons of trash Sheffield City Council said it cleaned up on Wednesday.

Mr Foulds made headlines in 2019 when the story of how the B-17 Flying Fortress Mi Amigo crashed in front of him on February 22, 1944, killing all 10 crew members, ultimately led to an air parade in the park, with 12,000 rallies to watch. .

He told the PA News Agency he arrived Wednesday morning and first spotted the largest American flag at the memorial, which he held out almost daily, had been ripped off.

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“All the flags had been taken down, placed on the ground and torn to make sure I couldn’t put them back,” he said.

“I can’t understand why they would touch a memorial.

“That beats me. I never dreamed of it when I was young.

“They deliberately left them ripped apart.”

Mr Foulds said: “When the police arrived, I was crying. I was heartbroken. “

He said he was reluctant to blame the drunken youths who had gathered on the huge lawn in front of the memorial, saying: “I can only assume that was political.”

He said he had received hundreds of messages and offers of money to replace damaged items. He said the council had received thousands of other messages of support.

Mr Foulds was in the same grassy area with friends 77 years ago when distressed Mi Amigo approached the park, and he believes the crew crashed into a small slope in order to avoid it him and his friends.

The story of how he dedicated himself to their memory has traveled the world, after a chance encounter with BBC broadcaster Dan Walker, who was walking his dog outside the memorial.

In February 2019, Mr Foulds was the guest of honor on the flypast at Endcliffe Park to mark the 75th anniversary of the tragedy.

He broke down in tears after the names of the dead were read during the salute.

Mr Foulds said Thursday: “These (airmen) died fighting for us. I wouldn’t have been here, for sure, I would have been dead if they had tried to land there.

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“Surely they know what the Americans did for us during the war?”

South Yorkshire Police Commissioner Simon Verrall said on Wednesday: ‘Throughout the afternoon and evening officers had to respond to a number of reports of anti-social behavior and harm. caused to the park.

“A 17-year-old boy was also arrested on suspicion of a fight following a fight between a group of people.

“Our colleagues from the fire department also had to be present, after reporting that several small fires broke out within the boundaries of the park.

“Unfortunately, one of the park’s memorials was also damaged during the evening, leaving the volunteers deeply distressed.

“This activity is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our open spaces, which have been a refuge for so many people during the pandemic.”

Mr Verrall continued, “We are currently reviewing CCTV and cellphone footage to identify those involved with a view to taking further action.”

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