The widow of a UDR soldier who was murdered by the IRA more than 30 years ago has thanked a group of local ex-servicemen who paid for repairs to her late husband’s headstone.
Private Alexander Gore, a full-time soldier with the Ulster Defence Regiment’s 10th Battalion, was killed in June 1979 in an IRA gun and grenade attack at a military base on the Malone Road in Belfast. He was 23 years old.
Private Gore, from the Sandy Row area of Belfast, had only been married a few months when he was killed. He was laid to rest beside his father in Carnmoney Cemetery.
Over the years the granite headstone had become badly weathered and was in poor condition.
Seeing that the stone could do with some attention, a group of big-hearted ex-servicemen and supporters of the Armed Forces from the Newtownabbey area chipped in to pay for it to be taken away and professionally cleaned, and to have the lettering re-done.
Private Gore’s widow, Amanda Gore joined other family members, friends and former service personnel at Carnmoney Cemetery to mark the erection of the refurbished gravestone.
“The guy who did the work has done an absolutely fantastic job. It’s like a completely new headstone; it actually looks better now than went it first went on,” she told the Times.
“The fellas paid the money themselves to have this done and I’m extremely grateful to them. I can’t thank them enough.”
Former soldier and local community worker Phil Hamilton said the group had thought it only right to ensure that Private Gore’s headstone was refurbished and his sacrifice remembered.
“The Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks after the First and Second World War graves, but what we need is an organisation to look after the graves of service personnel who lost their lives in Northern Ireland and other conflicts,” he commented.
Mr Hamilton pointed out that some of those who gave their lives in the service of their country have no families to look after their graves, while in other cases people cannot afford to pay for expensive repairs.
“It’s disrespectful that these graves are allowed to fall into disrepair and in some cases no-one is looking after them. This isn’t just a problem in Newtownabbey, it’s an issue right across the UK as a whole,” he continued.
Mrs Gore added: “They’re not classed as war graves, so they (the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) don’t bother with them.
“But whether they served here or abroad they were still British soldiers and their graves should be looked after, especially the headstones.
“I don’t know how much the guys paid to get this done, but I assume it’s expensive and in this day and age a lot of people simply can’t afford something like this.”
Mr Hamilton, who served in the Army Air Corps, said that he will be making an approach to Newtownabbey Council to see if it would be prepared to take on the upkeep of the graves of service personnel in its cemeteries.