Veterans disgusted after vandals attack tribute to war dead in Market Harborough
Veterans have been left appalled after vandals uprooted wooden crosses bearing the names of servicemen who died in the two world wars.
They also tore down a permanent wreath from a cenotaph in a garden of remembrance and threw it into a river.
It is believed the attack took place under the cover of darkness after 250 crosses had been laid out at the garden in Market Harborough.
John Standish, chairman of the local Royal British Legion branch, said: "I am absolutely appalled at this act of desecration against the memory of those soldiers from the area who laid down their lives for us.
"I am sure the people of Market Harborough, many of whom pay their respects in the garden of remembrance, will be horrified by this vandalism."
For the past dozen years, volunteers from the Royal British Legion have planted the crosses in neat rows in the town's Memorial Gardens in the week before Remembrance Sunday.
Each one bears the name of someone who was killed in the First or Second World War.
There are also wreaths on permanent display in the cenotaph in the gardens. Mr Standish said: "Crosses were pulled out of the ground and thrown about. A permanent wreath has also been ripped down.
"I can't understand the mentality of those who would do such a thing."
He urged anyone who saw the vandalism to contact the police.
The Rev John Morley, the county chaplain of the Royal British Legion, said: "It is the first time this has happened in the 12 years the garden has been created. It is very said some people should show such disrespect to those have given their lives.
"Each cross depicts the life of an individual from the area who sacrificed themselves for us. One of the crosses was broken but has been repaired. The other crosses have been replanted.
"Last year, each of the crosses was renovated by the prisoners at Gartree. The poppies were replaced and the names remarked. To have the garden attacked just hours after it was set out is deeply shocking."
Harborough District Council chairman John Everett said: "I was very saddened to hear about this vandalism, particularly in the run up to such an important weekend for remembrance.
"However, such a mindless act will not detract from Sunday's services or from the people demonstrating their respect for those who gave their lives during wartime."
The attack happened on Monday evening. Anyone who saw the vandals is asked to call police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.