Thieves have stolen metal plaques from a statue erected in memory of SAS founder David Stirling.
The bronze plates, one of which paid tribute to all 307 Special Air Service, were removed from the plinth of the memorial on Hill of Row near Doune, Stirlingshire, with bolt cutters.
One of the stolen plaques paid homage to Sir David with the inscription: “David Stirling, founder of the SAS Regiment, 1941”
While the other carried the words: “In remembrance of all those members of the special air service regiment who have died in the service of their country and have given their lives to uphold the principles of freedom and justice.”
The statue was erected in 2002 near Sir David’s family’s Park of Keir estate on land off the B824 between Doune and Junction 11 of the M9.
Today, the director of the memorial spoke of its “desecration” by the thieves and said police were carrying out an investigation.
The retired SAS major and asked not to be named, believes the plaques were removed between May 22 and May 29, probably at night.
He said: “It had been attempted before, about four or five years ago, but they weren’t able to get the plaques off.
“Following that, we put more cement around the plaques and added extra bolts to make the plaques even harder to remove.
“This time, however, whoever has done it has come along with the correct tools and removed them.”
He believes the thieves probably scrapped a bollard next to the memorial site during the operation.
“We are all quite upset at what has happened.”
He added. “One of the plaques remembers all those who died in the service of their country and for someone to come along and desecrate that by stealing the plaques is appalling.”
The £50,000 memorial was erected by Mick Mingay’s Dunblane-based company.
It also features the names of the 307 SAS personnel killed in World War Two and is visited by people from around the world.
Mick, who also looks after the maintenance of the site, said the plaques had a scrap value of about £200 but it would cost between £3000 and £4000 to replace them.
He said: “We are now looking at replacements made of resin because it’s much cheaper and there is the worry that if we replaced them in bronze, they would be stolen again.
“It is a real pity. A lot of people hold this memorial dear to their hearts and many visit to lay flowers.
“They must have come up here at night because it is always busy during the day, and to remove those plaques would have taken about half an hour.”
Dunblane Inspector Jim Young described the theft as “disgusting” and added: “It is totally disrespectful to people who have given their lives to make this country a better place.”
He appealed for witnesses and information and asked any scrap dealers, offered the plaques, to contact police immediately.
Laird of the Park of Keir estate is Sir David’s nephew Archie Stirling, a former Army officer, who was once married to Avengers actress Dame Diana Rigg.
Their daughter Rachael is also an actress.