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Bury St Edmunds widow ‘heartbroken’ by theft of Union flag

Mary Ryan with a photo of her late husband, Dennis, by the empty flagpole
Mary Ryan with a photo of her late husband, Dennis, by the empty flagpole

A grieving widow has been left ‘heartbroken’ by the theft of a Union flag which she had raised on Friday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Seventy-nine-year-old Mary Ryan has lived in her Bury St Edmunds flat for 22 years. It forms part of a residential complex in Minden Close which the Suffolk Regiment built to house former soldiers – like her late husband, Dennis, who served in Malaya – and their families.

Mary Ryan at the flagpole
Mary Ryan at the flagpole

Now run by Haig Homes, the complex caters for the wider ex-service community and continues to maintain a flagpole within its grounds.

Mrs Ryan arranges to have flags flown for military occasions and was ‘very distressed’ on Saturday morning to find the Union flag she had had raised to honour the lives lost in the Battle of the Somme had been stolen – the rope that was holding it up appears to have been cut.

The large flag was donated by RAF Honington following the theft of a previous one in April 2012.

Mrs Ryan said she was ‘flabbergasted’ when she realised it had happened again and felt like it had tarnished the memory of her husband who was ‘devastated’ the last time.

The mother-of-two said: “It’s left me very distressed. I’ve got the Suffolk Regiment flag that will go up on Minden Day but I always like to put the Union flag up when it’s necessary and this has left me very upset - people can be so cruel.”

“You can see how upset I am,” she added, fighting back tears. “People can be so horrible, I just don’t understand it. To think there are people who will do something like that just breaks me up.”

Suffolk Police believe the theft happened between 10pm on Friday and 7am on Saturday. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting crime reference 37/42102/16.


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