In a brazen show of disrespect, a thief has stolen a 92-year-old bronze memorial made to honour Langley soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War.
The bronze ornament adorned the cenotaph in the Murrayville Cemetery depicts two crossed rifles and a helmet and was created in 1921.
Cemetery staff noticed the bronze piece missing on Wednesday, Sept. 4, but it’s unclear when it was stolen.
Township of Langley Cemetery Supervisor Kevin Bunnett said he was showing the family of a veteran the cenotaph when he saw that the bronze ornament was gone. The discovery coincidentally came at the same time news reports surfaced about a number of bronze vases that were stolen from South Surrey’s Victory Memorial Park. Police were looking for a Langley woman after some of the vases were brought in to a metal recycler.
“It is disrespectful, big time,” Bunnett said of the theft, adding that there have been very few problems with theft or vandalism at the Murrayville Cemetery.
Located at 21405 44 Ave., the graveyard is surrounded by “good neighbours” who are conscientious about reporting problems to the Township or RCMP, he said.
The cenotaph is located at the far end of the cemetery and the bronze adornment was attached to the north side of the structure, facing away from the rest of the graveyard, making it difficult to see. Staff don’t know how long the piece has been missing, but have reported the theft to the Langley RCMP.
A twin of the rifle and helmet piece can also be found on the cenotaph at the Fort Langley Cemetery. Both structures were put up in 1921. Over the years, plaques have been added to the cenotaphs to commemorate those who fell in other conflicts.
Several years ago, the bronze ornament was stolen from the Fort Langley cenotaph and the piece in Murrayville was used as a model to create a replacement. Now, the Fort Langley bronze will have to be used to make a new piece for the Murrayville cenotaph, if it is not returned.
“We’d like to find it, and ask that anyone with information leading to it to call the Langley RCMP,” Bunnett said.
The bronze piece needs to be returned or replaced by Nov. 11, as members of the community gather at the Murrayville cenotaph each year for an informal Remembrance Day ceremony.
Originally established by Independent Order of Odd Fellows (Cloverdale Lodge No. 15), the cemetery was created in 1891 and was later known as Langley Prairie Cemetery before becoming the Murrayville Cemetery. It is the final resting place for close to 4,000 people.