AN ACT of disrespect towards Blaenavon’s war dead has sparked outrage among the town’s Royal British Legion branch after poppies were pulled from the memorial site by vandals.

The incident was discovered on Saturday, November 11 – Armistice Day – and is believed to have taken place in the early hours of the morning.

In total, a quarter of the plastic poppies on display at the war memorial were damaged and appear to have been removed from the railing guiding the clock tower.

Cyril Turner, the secretary of the Royal British Legion Blaenavon branch and standard bearer, was shocked to see that some of the poppies had been removed overnight.

“When I came down on Saturday morning, which was the 11th of the 11th, to put up the flags on the cenotaph, I looked around and was shocked that the poppies were on the floor,” said the 69-year-old.

“I came around the corner and they were everywhere.

“Five of the 20 poppies were damaged – the ones on the inside of the memorial site were fine.”

The memorial site is located on Church Road, below the Blaenavon’’s Workmen’s Hall and the poppies were pulled from the railing opposite St Peter’s Church.

Serving as a memory to the fallen from the Boer and Korean Wars and the Northern Ireland conflict, Mr Turner called the act “disrespectful” to the 160 WWI soldiers and 63 WWII serviceman who died from Blaenavon.

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He said: “So many people from Blaenavon died in the First World War and everyone knows someone who has a link to the war.

“The memorial also serves a memorial to the Second World War and the Korean War and more recent conflicts.

“It is our way of showing respect to those who have fallen for our freedom.

“Most of the people and children of Blaenavon have got respect for the cenotaph but there is always a small minority who don’t.

“Unfortunately, disrespectfully acts like this spoil it for everyone”.

Mr Turner added that based on the damage, it appears to be more than one person and he wanted to educate the person or people responsible about why the poppy is an important symbol.

“Someone knows who has done this and I believe it took more than one person to do it,” he said.

“I hope that the police are able to catch the vandals. I don’t want to think too much about their punishment but they should be educated about what the poppy stands for.

“It is important for them to understand why we see it as so disrespectful.”

The branch secretary said that the act would not deter the British Legion from celebrating the next Armistice Day in 2018 - which will be the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

“No matter what has happened, they won’t beat us,” said Mr Tuner.

“We will be going again next year as it will be the 100th anniversary of the First World War

“We won’t be beaten we won’t.”

Cllr Phyllis Roberts, the Mayor of Blaenavon who laid a wreath on behalf of the town council said: “I was very disappointed to hear that the poppies had been vandalised, but the remembrance service itself proved that the vast majority of Blaenavon people are fully supportive of the occasion.

“The attendances get bigger every year, and I was delighted to see so many taking part in the parade and showing their respect at the cenotaph.

“It was particularly lovely to see such a large number of organisations laying wreaths – there were more than 70 - and so many young children going up with their parents.

“The whole event was a pleasure to be involved in.”

Cllr Alan Jones, one of the Blaenavon ward members and the council’s armed forces champion, said: “I am really appalled by the vandalism caused by the people who tore down the poppies at our cenotaph here in Blaenavon.

“It is totally unacceptable and shows total disrespect for our fallen heroes.”

A Gwent Police spokeswoman said: “We had a call just after 10am on Saturday, November 11 reporting damage to poppies that had been displayed on Church Road in Blaenavon.

“They’d been damaged sometime overnight or that morning. Inquiries are ongoing.”

Anyone with details should call the police on 101, quoting log reference 141 11/11/2017.