A “deplorable” swastika still clearly visible on the war memorial three years after it was cleaned

A town’s war memorial defaced with a swastika has long been a source of shame for the local community. Three years after attempts to remove the offensive Nazi symbol, it defiantly remains in place, becoming more and more visible as the monument ages.

In 2019, vandals scrawled the swastika on Connah’s Quay and Shotton war memorial, obscuring the names of some of the 70 servicemen it commemorates. The incident caused outrage across Deeside.

Although it was cleaned up by Flintshire Council’s Streetscene team, the swastika outline remained. Graffiti Busters, a Kent-based cleaning company, then offered to remove the symbol for free, and for a time no trace could be seen.

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But over time, it reappeared. “You could see it if the sunlight somehow caught it,” said Cllr Ian Dunbar, of Connah’s Quay Council. “The cleaning company did a wonderful job, but over time it started to show its ugly face again as the memorial eroded.”

A resident contacted North Wales Live to say the continued presence of the symbol was ‘disgusting to people who died for Britain’. For the past three years, it has been visible at Remembrance Sunday gatherings, causing concern among those present.

However, North Wales Live can reveal that plans are in place to refurbish the memorial this summer. The entire monument – a cross mounted on silver stone plinths – is to be coated with a special “patina” which it is hoped will finally rid the structure of its offending symbol.

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The aim is to restore it to pristine condition before Remembrance Sunday this year. Cllr Dunbar, who is also treasurer of the local inter-service committee, said it would have happened sooner had it not been for the Covid pandemic.

“The process will enhance the names, making them more pronounced on their plaques,” he said. “The company involved promised me that it would work. He even sent me photos showing how he removed graffiti from other monuments.

Pictured in 2019, Cllr Ian Dunbar with Andy Dunbobbin, then Councilor and now North Wales PCC, disgusted by vandalism

Fundraising for the patina treatment has been ongoing for much of the past three years. At each Remembrance Sunday parade, participants such as Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Sea Cadets have voluntarily waived the donations they normally receive from collections conducted that day.

The local Flintshire Volunteer Committee helped with a £1,000 donation, with the rest raised by local people. “Residents of Deeside have been extraordinarily generous,” said Cllr Dunbar.

“It will be very expensive, especially as prices have risen in the two and a half years since we got the quote. But I’m confident we’ve had enough. People don’t care about the cost because they gave generously knowing what it was for.

Cllr Chris Risley, who represents the Wepre neighborhood in which the memorial is located, said the initial vandalism in 2019 left the whole community upset. When the plate was cleaned, all traces of the swastika seemed to be gone, he said. “He looked like new,” he said.

Later, however, he noticed what seemed to be fading on the plate, as if the swastika was slowly reappearing. “It was like he had been stained in stone,” he said.

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“When this unfortunate incident happened, it rubbed the community the wrong way. Restoration will be expensive, but you can’t put a price on the lives of the dead.

“We need something that allows us to remember the past and avoid making the same mistakes again. What is happening now in Ukraine is a timely reminder of the importance of these memorials.

Two years after the monument was defaced, another swastika was daubed on a war memorial in Rhyl, along with anti-Semitic hate messages. The obscene graffiti appeared on memorial stones in the city’s Gardens of Remembrance.

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