Norfolk mothers’ anger as memorial plaque for their sons killed in Afghanistan is destroyed

The mothers of two Norfolk soldiers who died in Afghanistan spoke of their anger today after a plaque commemorating them and seven other soldiers was destroyed.

The plaque, which honoured Royal Anglian Regiment men killed in 2007, was vandalised at a chapel in Warley, near Brentwood, Essex.

Lance corporal Alex Hawkins, 22, from Beetley, near Dereham, corporal Darren Bonner, 31, from Gorleston, lance corporal George Davey, 23, from Beccles, and private Aaron McClure, 19, from Ipswich were among those named on the plaque.

Jan Hawkins, 61, whose son Alex died in an explosion in Helmand Province, said: 'This is disgraceful behaviour and it is deeply upsetting for all of the families concerned.

'These boys did their duty in Afghanistan. They did it with bravery and they paid the price. For somebody to desecrate a memorial in their memory is utterly disgusting.

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'I hope they catch whoever did this and throw the book at them.'

Cpl Bonner died when an explosion hit a British convoy in the Gereshk region of Helmand province.

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His mother Christine Bonner said she felt the vandals were 'laughing in [her] face' as she has lost her son.

The 55-year-old, of Gedney, Lincolnshire, said: 'I can't understand why people would want to do that. They haven't got a heart, to be honest. Those lads gave their lives for this country and will never come back again, and they're just laughing in our faces. I feel we've been spat at. I hope they can sleep at night.'

Cpl Bonner had also had a metal memorial plaque stolen from Enfield crematorium in 2008 as thieves wanted to melt it down and sell it. This was replaced with a plastic plaque.

But his plaque at Warley has always been plastic.

'There's no reason why anybody should want to do that unless they're just being bloody-minded,' said Mrs Bonner. 'There's no monetary value and they didn't take anything. They just snapped the plastic plaque up and have strewn things across the churchyard.'

And she said vandals bring more pain to the families of fallen soldiers whenever they strike.

'It's the families left behind that are suffering,' she said. 'They shouldn't say the families have been informed – they should say the families have been destroyed. It's aimed at us as our sons aren't here and it doesn't seem very fair.'

Major Tony Jones, 59, who served in the Royal Anglian Regiment for 38 years, discovered the damage on March 2 and reported it to police.

The plaque is expected to cost �200 to replace and Maj Jones said he had already received offers to pay for the replacement.

Other soldiers named on the plaque, all from the Royal Anglian Regiment 1st Battalion, were: Pte Tony Rawson, 27, from Dagenham, Essex; Capt David Hicks, 26, from Wokingham, Berkshire; Pte John Thrumble, 21, from Chelmsford, Essex; Pte Chris Gray, 19, from Leicester and Pte Robert Foster, 19, from Harlow, Essex.

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