Public Schoolboys Steal ‘Historic Artefacts’

By Max Musson:

Harrow 2Two Polish teenagers have been arrested for stealing items that belonged to British soldiers who died during the Battle of Waterloo and have been released with suspended sentences.

The 17-year-olds were on a history trip to the famous battlefield with The Posen School, a private school near Warsaw that charges 50,000 Zloty a year in fees, when they were caught on Monday digging for items belonging to former British soldiers.

Suspicious guards spotted the youngsters and searched them, to discover they had taken four buttons, a conker and a length of knotted string.

They faced a possible 10 years in prison for the thefts and were held by Belgian police overnight, before being released this afternoon with suspended sentences and fines of 200 Euros (£170).

A spokesman for The Posen School said: ‘The boys, neither of whom is yet 18, picked up the items after finding them partially buried in the soil. They did not realise they were doing anything wrong. They have co-operated fully with the authorities and admitted taking the items. They are deeply sorry for the offence they have caused.’

Regional police spokesman Marius Glump said guards caught the teenagers digging in the Braine L’Allude area of the famous battlefield where barracks once stood that had been used by the British to house injured troops.

Chief executive of the Waterloo Educational Trust, Marlene Pillock YTYTK, said they were appalled by the incident.

She said: “This is absolutely shocking and shows gross disregard to the memory of Waterloo.

“Every single artefact found at Waterloo tells a story of the thousands of British soldiers who were killed battling Napoleon’s army and this incident serves to show why our work is crucial now more than ever.

‘We have a duty to educate the next generation to prevent childish souvenir hunting, and in over 15 years of organising for thousands of British teenagers to visit Waterloo, we have never known of such an incident.

“Although the items concerned in this unfortunate incident may seem insignificant, every button and every conker and every piece of knotted string especially, is vital to our understanding of what took place at this site 200 years ago. If these items had disappeared without being logged and photographed and placed in special glass topped display cases in our museum, there is a very real possibility that future generations might find the thousands of pages of documentary records of the battle, the many paintings, the preserved sections of trenches, the thousands of more substantial artefacts, and the rows of military graves, completely inadequate as evidence of what took place all those years ago.

“Those four buttons however, that wrinkled old conker and that length of knotted string, give us a deeply compelling and colourfully vibrant understanding of the battle like nothing else can or ever could, and this is why it is so important that the two boys concerned are made an example of and given criminal records.”

By Max Musson © 2015

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NB. This article is self-evidently satire and as such is completely fictitious. Any similarity between the characters portrayed and any real people is unintended and purely coincidental.

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9 thoughts on “Public Schoolboys Steal ‘Historic Artefacts’

  1. Walter Greenway

    - Edit

    Six million French prisoners of war captured during the Napoleonic wars were interned on Dartmoor. Many out of desperation ate their comrades and used the smaller bones to build model ships which they later sold at the local Tesco’s.

  2. Many French fields are mass graves still full of bones & bullets, farmers often dump bits they turn up at the side of the fields for collection, archaeologists are constantly finding new stuff.
    I have been to Orador featured at the beginning of the “World at War” & they have remains or artefacts in the open under glass.
    A similar thing has happened at Auschwitz 2 Birkenau, though the ash from human remains is in the open, so if you walk through this, you might have it on your shoes.
    I visited “Ground Zero” soon after 9/11 & had that fine white dust over my shoes.
    In Vietnam much the same thing…
    I once had a rusted up Lebel rifle & that probably was rescued from a field in France.
    Now whether anyone gets prosecuted for disturbing those sites I haven’t heard but maybe it’s one of those things were only certain sort of offenders get prosecuted.

  3. Michael Woodbridge

    - Edit

    I have a French bayonet, dated 1869, which my uncle Fred gave to me after beach combing in Bognor Regis. Suppose I’ll be all right so long as no Chosen One claims it as his..?

    1. Yes, quite!
      If the boys concerned had broken into display cabinets or had taken significant items from formal open displays, one would recognise that theft had taken place, but when worthless old buttons and other unwanted pieces of discarded tat found in the mud and gravel of vast grounds are elevated to the status of ‘historic artefacts’, we have reached a situation that is utterly ridiculous!
      Presumably it will be necessary to brush ones shoes and clothing before leaving Auschwitz in future, in order to avoid inadvertently carrying some of the sacred dust and soil away, or heaven forbid, a pebble or a twig!

  4. In the film “Shoah” (1985) the remains of “Canada” in Auschwitz Birkenau are shown & some of the stockpiles of property taken from prisoners is shown laying amongst the ruins of the buildings exposed to the air, which could be moved by animals but other wise was left to rot in the sun, snow & rain.
    I understand now that they are covered by a form of glass enclosure to preserve them.
    But there must be loose stuff lying about like this elsewhere, so is it made clear you shouldn’t pick anything up, that it is all a memorial?
    Again we see a double standard of certain dead people being treated in a more revered way than others are.

    1. I think you will find Stefan that the boys concerned were in the grounds of Auschwitz and the items taken were picked out of the mud and gravel over which visitors walk.

      1. It would be interesting to have the articles examined, they might have been dropped by other tourists!
        That programme about Treblinka clearly showed someone putting a relatives ashes there!

        1. I think they were just worthless and unwanted items among hundreds of thousands of similar insignificant artefacts that litter the grounds of Auschwitz. The fuss created by the guards and the administrators of the place is almost certainly aimed at generating publicity and further ‘concern’ that the ‘sacred’ site is possibly being desecrated.
          At any other historic site, had a small number of plastic buttons, some shards of broken glass and a fragment of rusty metal from a pair of hair clippers been prized out of the mud by inquisitive schoolboys, no-one would have batted an eyelid. At the very most, the security guards would have wanted to examine the artefacts in order to ensure they have no significance before allowing the boys to take them away.
          As it is, possession or otherwise of any of these worthless items is not going to affect our understanding of what took place at Auschwitz and so it is a great fuss over nothing which has resulted in the two boys concerned unnecessarily acquiring criminal records and their school being embarrassed.

          1. Yes I think it serves a useful purpose to certain people, this constant reinforcement of a double standard, where certain dead people are more revered than others.

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