THIEVES have stolen a poignant tribute to those who died during the First World War ahead of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

The Royal British Legion silhouette of a saluting sailor had been put up in Stanley as part of the town’s remembrance commemorations.

It had been placed near the steps of the Asda supermarket as part of a national campaign to represent the sacrifices of those killed a century ago, but was stolen over the weekend.

Now Durham Constabulary and Stanley Town Council are appealing for its return, ahead of centenary commemoration events taking place in the town this weekend.

Councillor Joan Nicholson, who is on both the town and county council, said: “This really makes me feel sad. Surely someone saw something?

“Somebody will know who has taken the silhouette.

“This act is so disrespectful against all it stands for. I have found this act appalling.”

The silhouettes have a base with the words ‘Lest we Forget’ written on and the Royal British Legion logo.

Councillor George Wilkinson said: “People have gone to great effort to ensure that the centenary of the end of the Great War is rightfully commemorated.

“It is truly disrespectful and unacceptable of whomever has taken the Naval Silhouette.

“Anybody with any information please contact Durham Constabulary or Stanley Town Council. It would be remarkable to get the silhouette back before this weekend’s Armistice commemorations.”

Durham Constabulary is investigating and officers are urging people to get in touch.

PC Paul Walmsley said: “As with a lot of people, the First World War is significant to me as my grandfather was a serving soldier.

“When we were alerted to this incident, both I and my colleagues were shocked.

“I am hoping that someone out there has some information which would lead to the memorial being returned to its location, or a call to the police or Crimestoppers to say where it is.”

The silhouettes of soldiers, sailors and airmen were created by the Royal British Legion and have been donated to communities across the county.

A spokesperson for the military charity said: “The legion is shocked and saddened to hear of this incident.

“The Silent Silhouette installations honour the memory of the Armed Forces personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those who defend the freedom we enjoy.”

To help call 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.