Civic leaders have hit back at ‘appalling’ vandals who damaged one of the town’s war memorials.
The memorial, outside St Ambrose Church on Moss Lane, is a permanent reminder of those from Leyland who died during the First World War.
Vandals have scrawled offensive words on the stone and its surrounding walls, which carry the names of fallen soldiers.
Jim Eskdale, president of the Leyland branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “This is a crime, not just vandalism or horseplay. It is a crime against the people who fought to give us all a future.
“In this day and age, especially with things like Iraq and Afghanistan going on, there seems to be a lot more respect for the people who fought and died for us, and the people who are still fighting and dying for us.
“This desecration is like kicking your family grave, and I hope that the people responsible are caught.”
The graffiti contains initials and the words ‘f*** police’, as well as drawings, thought to be in stone or chalk.
Coun Susan Jones, who represents the Leyland St Ambrose ward at South Ribble Council, said: “It is disgusting.
“There is quite a lot of vandalism from time to time in Moss Lane, but this is particularly offensive.
“I think the main thing with this kind of vandalism is to get it removed as quickly as possible.
“If people see other people doing it, it acts as a magnet. People start to think it is okay, which, of course, it is not.”
Resident Andy Farrell said: “This is not just kids messing around. This is disrespectful to the war dead, their families, and the community.”
Council leaders say the vandalism is particularly offensive in the light of the death of Marine Paul Warren, from Ingleborough Way, Leyland, in Afghanistan last year.
Coun Peter Mullineaux, cabinet member with responsibility for neighbourhood services at South Ribble Council, said: “We were notified of some vandalism to the war memorial outside Leyland’s St Ambrose Church.
“We visited the site and were appalled to discover some very offensive words scratched into the stonework of the memorial, which was presumably done using a smaller stone.
“We were able to clean it off quickly without any lasting damage to the monument, and I hope that we don’t see any further examples of such unacceptable behaviour.
“Leyland is very proud and grateful to its war heroes, as we saw after the death of local marine Paul Warren last summer.
“I’m sure the whole town would agree that our brave service men and women deserve more respect, and that those responsible for this vandalism should hang their heads in shame.”