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Callous thieves branded lowest of the low after East End war memorial theft

PUBLISHED: 16:01 19 August 2010 | UPDATED: 16:18 05 October 2010

Ken Greenway looks at the gap where the plaque was taken

Ken Greenway looks at the gap where the plaque was taken

CALLOUS thieves who have stolen a memorial honouring the dead of two world wars have been branded as disgusting . They prised off a metal panel at the war memorial at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park and took away a list of names of servicemen who died in the

CALLOUS thieves who have stolen a memorial honouring the dead of two world wars have been branded as "disgusting".

They prised off a metal panel at the war memorial at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park and took away a list of names of servicemen who died in the First and Second World Wars.

The panel is worth just £80 but will cost £10,000 to replace and repair the damage to the granite base.

Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick branded the theft an "insult" and said it was a disgusting insult to the people who died during both wars.

The MP, a member of the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park said: "Any damage and theft of the memorial is an insult and I condemn it totally. Those who deface tributes to the fallen are pathetic and ignorant vandals."

Len Page who organises Poppy collections for Poplar and Millwall's Royal British Legion said: "You can't imagine why anyone would do this. They are obviously the lowest of the low."

Ken Greenway from the park which is now a nature reserve said he thinks the thieves mistakenly believed the plaque was made of bronze. It is one of 16 recording the names of scores of service personnel who died.

He said: "The theft was shocking. A lot of park users say just how deplorable it is. You may not know the names on the memorial but it is there to honour them and what they did during the wars and the sacrifices they made.

"The thieves stuck a crowbar behind the plaque and tried to take a second plaque. They may have been disturbed or gave up when they realised the plaque was too light to be bronze."

The replacement costs will be met by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but a new plaque will have to be commissioned from Australia.

Mr Greenway said he hoped the replacement would be ready in time for Remembrance Sunday in November. He said that families can be reassured that despite the theft there is a record of the full list of names from the memorial.

The thieves struck between 6pm on Sunday August 8 and midday on Monday August 9.

Any witnesses or anyone who is offered the plaque for sale or scrap should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

The park off Southern Grove in Bow has been beset by problems this summer with firebugs setting fire to meadows and logs which are left as habitats for wildlife have also been torched.

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