VANDALS have damaged poppy wreaths and wooden crosses in a “deplorable” attack on Edinburgh’s garden of remembrance.
Volunteers from Poppyscotland discovered crosses uprooted, the wreaths scattered and a wooden sign knocked over when they arrived at the garden, next to the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens, on Saturday morning.
It was initially unclear whether the chaos could have been caused by high winds, but on closer inspection it was agreed the damage was the result of vandalism.
Police are now investigating and have appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Frank Ross, who officially opened the garden of remembrance on Monday, said: “It is deeply troubling to think this damage could be the result of vandalism. In the lead up to Armistice Day and the centenary of the First World War, the garden of remembrance is Edinburgh’s tribute to the fallen and the idea of it being treated with anything but the utmost respect is devastating.
“We share the concerns raised by Poppyscotland about what happened and the council is working closely with the police to establish how the damage took place. I urge anyone with information to contact the police immediately.”
The separate field of remembrance, on the other side of the Scott Monument, which has 8000 crosses planted in tribute to servicemen and women who lost their lives, was largely untouched.
But David Findlay, spokesman for Poppyscotland, said staff and volunteers had been upset at the vandalism and had worked hard to restore the garden to its proper state.
In a joint statement Poppyscotland and Legion Scotland said: “We can confirm that at some point during the early hours of Saturday November 3, sections of the Edinburgh Garden and Field of Remembrance beside the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens were subjected to an act of vandalism. A number of items had been wilfully uprooted and pushed over.
“When our staff and volunteers arrived for duty yesterday morning they were understandably distressed by what they found. The incident was immediately reported to the police and we then set about restoring the disrupted sections. This was completed by late morning.
“This is a truly deplorable and disrespectful act of malicious violence which has caused immense upset to countless people.
“ The Garden and Field of Remembrance is a very special place and thousands of locals and visitors alike spend time reflecting and remembering there each year.
“Hundreds of hours are spent by our staff and volunteers planting more than 8000 remembrance symbols that are returned to us by supporters across the country. Scores of remembrance wreaths are laid by representatives of a wide spectrum of organisations during a service to remember the fallen at the opening of the Garden.”
Inspector Alan Struthers, of Howdenhall police station, said: “This is a reckless and thoughtless act and we need the public’s help to trace whoever did this.
“We have already conducted local enquiries. The gates were locked so the person or persons who did this would’ve had to climb over the fence.
“We would ask if anyone saw anything suspicious to speak to a police officer or contact us on 101, quoting incident number 1318.”