SIGNIFICANT damage to headstones marking Polish graves in Blockley Cemetery were caused by a falling tree, not vandals, it has been revealed.

Campaign group British Poles Initiative (BPI) tweeted photos of the smashed headstones in the Station Road cemetery on Monday morning, indicating that they had been “vandalised” – which was then reported nationally.

The graves included 122 World War Two Polish displaced persons who lived in nearby disused army camps of Springhill and Northwick Park.

However, BPI has since apologised for the mistake, with The Revd Canon Dana Delap, Church of St Peter and St Paul, Blockley, confirming that the damage was due to a tree.

She said it was a “stormy night” and “lots of trees came down” in the village and she wasn't sure where reports of vandalism had come from.

“A tree came down in the churchyard, a tree came down in the vicarage and a tree came down in the cemetery,” she explained.

“It was a stormy night and lots of trees came down in Blockley.”

She said the parish council is “in the process of putting right the graves”.

“The Polish community are just so well thought of in Blockley, they did so much to protect our country during the war and we have fond memories of their involvement in that and our community as a whole.”

A statement posted on BPI Twitter page said: “We are enormously grateful to the British and Polish communities for finding the cause of the tragic destruction of the Polish part of the Blockley Cemetery.

“Yesterday (March 11) we have received pictures from reliable and respected sources in the local parish community in Evesham portraying the destruction of Polish graves.

“It was factually proven that the Polish graves were destroyed and that somebody crossed out the text ‘respect the memorials’ with a black marker.

“Despite these suggestions, it was clearly stated in our reports that the cause and perpetrators of these damages are 'unknown'.

“It was an incredible relief to receive further pictures and evidence from Denni Summerton, a local, proving that a storm and trees falling on the graves caused the damages.

“The trees were cleared, but shockingly the cemetery was left in a devastated state.

“We are thankful to the local Polish community, the local councillors and all people who acted to resolve this issue.

“We would proudly like to announce that the local British & Polish communities, after noticing the damages, plan to clean and restore the destroyed Polish part of the Blockley Cemetery this Saturday (March 17) at 10am.”

Nigel Huddleston, Mid Worcestershire MP, said: “I am relieved to hear reports that the destruction of Polish war graves in Blockley Cemetery just outside my constituency was apparently caused by falling trees in adverse weather conditions. “Previous reports had suggested that this was an act of vandalism and I was deeply disappointed when this news broke over the weekend.

“This is still a sad incident given the damage caused, however it would be reassuring to know that this stemmed from a freak natural incident rather than malicious human intent.”