A TOMBSTONE that was attacked by thieves has been replaced.

A short service of commemoration is to take place in Powick churchyard to re-consecrate a tombstone attacked by thieves.

It stands at the grave of 24-years-old Sapper Cyril Finch, whose family lived in Upton Road, Callow End and who died during the First World War, not in battle, but in a freak drowning accident off the Lincolnshire coast in 1916 while at a military camp nearby.

After Sapper Finch was buried, his family topped his grave with a two foot tall stone angel, but this was stolen a while ago.

Fortunately the theft was spotted by just the right man.

Gerry Taggart, president of the local Royal Engineers Association, lives at Powick and regularly walks his dogs through the churchyard.

He said: “I noticed that some thieves had hacksawed the stone angel off at its base and made off with it.

"No doubt they sold it on as a garden ornament.

"I wrote to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and they have been very supportive in our efforts to restore Sapper Finch’s grave.

“They have prepared a headstone, which has been emplaced and which we aim to have consecrated on Wednesday,  August 16, which will be 101 years to the day after Sapper Finch died.

"He was drowned at Saltfleet on the Lincolnshire coast, while serving at the camp there.

"Together with some other soldiers, he had gone bathing in the sea when some of the party got into trouble.

"Sapper Finch was a strong swimming and went to their aid, but sadly drowned while attempting the rescue.

"His original headstone was privately installed by his family because the  CWGC wasn’t set up until 1917.”

The Royal Engineers Association wanted to restore the grave but couldn’t proceed without the permission of the Finch family, who now live in Birmingham.

Eventually they were contacted and the CWGC has agreed to supply a Portland Stone headstone complete with Sapper Finch’s details and the RE King George V cap badge of the time.

The consecration service will take place at 2.30pm on August 16 and will be conducted by the Rev Peter Noakes, chaplain to the Newland Community.