VANDALS destroyed a tribute to First World War soldiers less than 48 hours after it was installed.

The silent soldier silhouette, which stood in Dudsbury Avenue, Ferndown, was targeted in "broad daylight" on Monday. The figure, a British Tommy, was torn off its base and bent in half.

Ferndown resident Terry Dobbins, who served with the Army and has since raised thousands of pounds for the Royal British Legion's annual poppy appeal, said the act made his "heart ache".

"Whoever did this has rammed it or kicked it, as it's on the ground," he said.

"It's a shocking act of desecration."

The silent soldier campaign honours British troops who fought and died 100 years ago. The silhouettes are near life-size, and can be fixed to buildings, gardens, fields and roundabouts.

Each installation features the words '1914-1918 Lest We Forget' at the base.

Mr Dobbins said: "It hurt me to see the damage done.

"I was so proud when I walked out and saw it on the Friday. It's a wonderful tribute.

"This is a nice place, so it's a real shock."

Vanessa Ricketts, Ferndown Town Council's town clerk and executive officer, said: "The silhouette was destroyed.

"It had been up for less than 48 hours.

"It's been torn off its base and bent in half. It wasn't hit by a car - it was a deliberate act and it happened in broad daylight."

The incident happened sometime between 8.30am and 2pm on Monday.

"The town council purchased 10 of the statues, and Ferndown's Royal British Legion has two in its garden of remembrance," Vanessa said.

"We've placed them at the gateways to the town. Wherever you come into Ferndown, that's where we've decided they should be."

Each silhouette costs £100. Vanessa said Ferndown hosts a series of remembrance events during the year.

"It's hugely importance for us," she said.

"Whoever did this has a lack of respect.

"It's very rare for their to be any acts of vandalism in Ferndown and it's very sad that this has happened."

A spokesperson from the Royal British Legion said: "The Legion is shocked and saddened to hear of this incident.

"The silent soldier installations honour the memory of the armed forces personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those who defend the freedom we enjoy.”