As Kate Southgate walked up to her son Luke’s war grave to mark his birthday on Monday she gasped ‘the flowers have gone’.
Then shock gave way to anger that anyone could have been so heartless as to take flowers from any grave, let alone that of a Bury St Edmunds man who died serving his country, just two weeks before his 21st birthday in 2010.
Mrs Soutgate, said: “We paid for this basket of family flowers and there were cards in there saying who they’re from. How could someone be so low to take them?
“I’m so cross about it.”
Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate, a former County Upper School pupil who lived in St Olaves Road, was killed by an explosion near Kandahar Airfield. He was buried at Bury St Edmunds Cemetary in March 2010 alongside the graves of casualties from the two world wars.
The Southgate family had had a special basket of flowers made that would last and had placed them on the grave on February 24, the anniversary of his death, expecting them to be there until his birthday.
Mrs Soutgate said: “We’ve left things there over the last four years and nothing has been taken. Everything else is still there — there are two teddies that sit in front of the stone.
“Luke’s grave isn’t walked past often, it’s down with the other war graves.”
Luke’s grave is alongside World War One and Two graves. Because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was formed to looks after world war graves, Luke’s is one of only a few post-World War Two graves across the country cared for by the commission at the request of the Ministry of Defence.
A commission spokesman said they would not have removed the flowers.
“I’ve spoken to the senior gardener and he said the grave is frequently visited and often covered with flowers,” he said.
“If someone has left something on the grave, specially if it was to last to a birthday, it’s sad it’s been taken.”