West Parley residents were shocked to discover one of their ’silent soldiers’, located on one of the village’s main road, was defaced last week. The vandalism “upset numerous residents”, forcing the Dorset village’s parish council to remove the damaged statue. Great care had been taken to choose the location of the statue before it was damaged and children had laid a poppy dedication under each of the ‘silent soldiers’.
A statement from West Parley parish councillors said: “This is a despicable act of vandalism and shows complete disregard for the memories of the fallen, who fought to give the subsequent generations the freedom they enjoy today.”
The parish council had bought four ‘silent soldiers’ which were placed on each of the four main roads in the village.
Children from the local school were taught about their significance before poppy tributes were placed at the foot of each statue.
Parish clerk Linda Leeds told Bournemouth Echo: “Careful consideration was given and a different silhouette was chosen appropriate to its location.
“Another silhouette remains outside Parley First School as a reminder to the children.
“This criminal damage has upset numerous residents who are connected to the armed forces and the silhouette was removed as soon as the council became aware of this abhorrent act.”
This latest act of vandalism comes after two soldiers were damaged in nearby Ferndown last year.
And earlier this year in London, sick vandals threw white paint over the Bomber Command Memorial in London’s Green Park.
The £10million memorial honouring 55,573 airmen killed on active duty during World War 2 was partly paid for by the generosity of Daily Express readers.
Grant Parrott, chairman of Ferndown Royal British Legion, said: “Throughout the towns and villages of Dorset, the silent soldier figures stand as a statement of our remembrance of the sacrifice of the First World War and our resolve to never let it happen again in this day and age.
“They have had a tremendous impact across all age groups, including young people and children who, we hope, will carry that resolve into the future throughout their own lives and pass it on to their own children.
“Those simple silhouette figures are an important reminder to us all, so our message is: don’t vandalise them – rather think of the message they carry and the future generations they will help to protect.”