Callous vandals have wrecked a statue of a soldier in a World War One memorial garden in a mindless attack which has caused fury.
The wanton and deliberate damage to the metal silhouette in the Friends of Ashton Community Garden was discovered last Wednesday.
Yobs had bent the head of the outline of the poignant artwork, depicting one of the many people who went to the front line in the appalling conflict between 1914 and 1918.
The vandalism has appalled and enraged former councillor Paul Tushingham from the group which maintains the community-run green space.
Mr Tushingham said: “This is just such a disrespectful thing to have happened.
“It’s very disappointing and regretful. I was in a rage about it when I was told.
“I just find it outrageous that somebody has maliciously and deliberately chosen to do this, and it is a choice.
“It’s in the memorial garden on the edge of the public footpath.
“It’s not possible that someone has bumped into it, they have put their hands on it and bent the head down.
“This has not been done as an accident. It’s steel, the same as a tin of beans. It’s not easy to bend.
“The overwhelming majority of our community will be outraged by this.
“As I was removing the statue a lorry driver stopped to ask if it had been vandalised and I can’t repeat the language he used about whoever had done this.”
Mr Tushingham is currently working on the metal at home to see if it can be returned to its original shape without damaging the structure.
He has been in touch with the borough’s security camera teams and CCTV footage of the area is now being scoured to see if any sign of the perpetrators can be found.
Greater Manchester Police said the statue was targeted between 8.30pm and 11.30pm on Wednesday, August 21.
The force said the statue is believed to have been deliberately targeted and it was satisfied no anti-war slogans were found in the area.
Police are also looking at CCTV images to find the culprit.
Anyone with information about the vandalism should contact police on 101 or call independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.