Police hunt 'despicable' vandals who 'beheaded' memorial to World War veterans

Police are hunting vandals who ‘beheaded’ statues commemorating those who died in the two World Wars.

The Tommy Silhouettes were found ripped from their stands and broken — some with their heads removed — at Purfleet Garrison Community Centre in Essex.

They are believed to have been vandalised between 8pm on Friday and 10am the next day in what the police have branded “despicable acts”.

The damage echoes several incidents where war memorials were vandalised last year, including a statue of Sir Winston Churchill being covered in paint and damage to the Bomber Command Memorial in London’s Green Park.

Police are hunting vandals who 'beheaded' the Tommy Silhouettes commemorating those who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars. (Picture: PA/Cllr Qaisar Abbas)
The statues were vandalised at Purfleet Garrison Community Centre between 8pm on Friday and 10am the next day. (Picture: PA/Cllr Qaisar Abbas)

Chief Inspector Natalia Ross, from Essex Police, said: “The statues were put in place to commemorate those who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars.

“They were enjoyed by the community and centre visitors who wanted to pay their respects.

“Sadly, they were damaged – possibly beyond repair – in despicable acts this weekend.

“A dedicated officer has been allocated to the investigation to look into the circumstances and to find those responsible.”

Police branded the vandalism 'despicable'. (Picture: PA/Cllr Qaisar Abbas)

Neighbourhood watch co-ordinator and Purfleet resident Lisa Wright said she was “angered, disappointed and sad” when she saw the statues.

“One row of soldiers has been ripped from its fixings and discarded and vandalised on the floor, and the other row have been beheaded,” she said.

She has since set up a crowdfunding appeal to repair the damaged statues, raising £240 that was topped up by local councillor Qaiser Abbas to meet the target of £300.

Cllr Abbas, who reported the damage to Thurrock Council and Essex Police on Saturday, said: “This is unbelievably sad and unacceptable. I hope anyone who knows anything will come forward.”

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