Generous funds save Tangmere war graves

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PRIZED war graves have been saved in Tangmere after they were threatened by dead and decaying hedges.

In November, it emerged the graves were under threat at St Andrew’s Church in Tangmere, after a leylandii hedge, planted many years ago, had grown exponentially and its roots were interfering with the graves.

There were also two dying trees with rotting branches which endangered the graves, as well as anyone visiting them.

Many pilots and soldiers from the nearby former RAF base were buried there – and there were around 20 to 30 graves.

The threat saw a plea at November’s Tangmere Parish Council meeting for a donation towards the £2,500 required for the work that needed 
to be carried out.

Additionally, the Tangmere Aviation Museum also made a contribution for the work to take place.

There was an informal deadline for the work to happen, 
as a nearby field had been left unploughed by its owner – to allow large vehicles to access the graveyard, in Church Lane, however the ploughing could not be delayed any later than the middle of December.

At the time of a previous Observer article in November, around £1,000 had been raised, leaving the church still £1,500 short of its target.

The church committee’s Mike Nation had taken on the role of getting the funds together.

Fortunately, a number of ‘very generous individuals’ came forward and gave money to enable the work to be carried out.

On December 16, S & P Tree Specialists, based in St Blaises Road, Boxgrove, began to carry out the work.

Mr Nation said many people donated after reading of the graves’ plight in the Observer.

He gave special thanks to the Trefoil Trust, who he said gave a ‘very generous’ grant.

Mr Nation added: “Any excess monies, after the contractors have been paid will be kept 
specifically for work that needs to be carried out to keep, what is a very historic graveyard, in a good condition.”

St Andrew’s is a 12th-century church and the war graves contained in its church yard 
are maintained by the War Graves Commission, however they themselves did not have the funds to pay for the hedge or trees’ removal.

At the time of the appeal, Mr Nation said: “It’s important for 
the church to preserve all the graves we have in the church yard.”

He said that during the tree felling and disposal there was some smoke and ash disruption and he apologised for any inconvenience caused by the work.