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War memorial damaged by vandals

Vandals have targeted a war memorial just days before Britain marks the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Police were alerted to a fire at the monument in Lewisham, south-east London, early today.

Officers found the charred remains of burned poppy wreaths at the memorial, while there was smoke damage to its base.

They filled up buckets with water and managed to remove the soot that had settled and erase any visible signs of damage.

Detectives are treating the incident as arson and they are combing CCTV. No arrests have been made.

It comes less than a week before the 100th anniversary of the declaration of war against Germany in 1914.

Superintendent Neil Evans, of Lewisham Police, said: "It is very rare a memorial is vandalised and is naturally an emotive subject.

"This Sunday sees the eve of the outbreak of WW1 and it is particularly insensitive that someone should vandalise a war memorial which helps us remember the sacrifice that many men and women made from around the British Empire."

The roadside stone column is set at one end of the Deptford WW1 Memorial Gardens.

It is 23ft (7m) tall and includes figures of a soldier and a sailor in full war kit. It carries the inscription: "Deptford's Tribute To Her Gallant Sons Who Were Faithful Unto Death 1914-1918 1939-1945."

It was unveiled in July 1921, according to the Lewisham War Memorials website.

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