TEENAGE vandals have sparked outrage by destroying a Silent Soldier unveiled in memory of men killed during the First World War.

Two young hooligans targeted a Hampshire community centre at 3am and ripped the memorial out of the ground before smashing it to pieces.

Police are examining CCTV footage of the incident at the Gang Warily complex in Newlands Road, Blackfield.

More than 100 people have taken to social media to voice their anger and disgust at the destruction of the memorial, which honoured the millions of men who died in the 1914-18 conflict.

One man said: "This is perhaps the worst kind of vandalism.

"Once identified they should be made an example of and given an appropriate punishment - no cautions, no gentle slap on the wrist by Hampshire Constabulary but a proper punishment that includes appearing in front of a magistrate.

"Let them learn the consequences of their vandalism and disrespect of fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen."

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Another social media user posted: "They should be made to write out the name of every single British and Commonwealth soldier lost in recent conflicts so they know the true meaning of sacrifice."

Other people demanded to know why the youngsters were roaming the area at 3am and causing damage.

One woman said: "They should hang their heads in shame. Hopefully they will feel the full force of the law and be dealt with as harshly as possible."

The Silent Soldier was provided by the Royal British Legion and funded by a grant from Hampshire County Council.

It was cemented into the ground outside the entrance to Gang Warily in 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

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Parish clerk Steve Postlethwaite said: "Our staff arrived for work and found the Silent Soldier. They carried out a search and discovered it had been broken into several pieces.

"Our CCTV captured footage of the offenders, who appear to be young teenagers. Close-up images of them have been handed to the police.

"We're very upset that the memorial has been destroyed by offenders who somehow consider that type of behaviour to be acceptable and appropriate.

"Unfortunately it can't be repaired and they don't make them any more, so we can no longer have a Silent Soldier standing proud in our parish."

A Hampshire police spokesman said the vandalism occurred between 3am and 3.30am on August 27. He added that no arrests had been made.