THE public has been left outraged as vandals defaced a Scottish war memorial to those who lost their lives during world wars - using the terms "rats" and "scum of the earth."

The disgusting vandalism was discovered at the Duchess of Hamilton Park in Motherwell, which is home to a war memorial commemorating those who died in the First and Second World Wars from across the area.

North Lanarkshire Council, which posted pictures of the graffiti online, urged the public to contact police with any information that might lead to catching those responsible.

The local authority added: "This disrespectful act can't be tolerated."

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The memorial, which features a three-stepped base, a cenotaph style column and a lion couchant, has the names of over 1100 who died in North Lanarkshire in both world wars.

It also features inscriptions of the countries and regions that were the focus of both world wars, including France, Belgium, Jutland, Gallipoli, Salonica, Mesopotamia, Palestine and the Falklands.

Vandals had written the word 'Rats' above a Palestine inscription.

Above the names of the dead was written, "scum of the earth" and "cowards".

People registered their disgust over the vandalism to the council.

Jackie Whittingham said: "Horrendous. What kind of people could do this."

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Darren Hartlebury added: "What is wrong with these people. Absolutely vile to write on this. No respect."

And Alan Watt remarked: "My brain just can't fathom this. It goes way beyond disgusting."

The memorial also features a sword within a wreath and a Motherwell crest flanked by two Scottish soldiers standing at ease. Beside each of them is a kneeling soldier holding out a flag.

In 2012 a memorial was erected for the Spanish Civil War, to honour all those from North Lanarkshire who joined the fight against fascism but never returned from Spain.

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It takes on the special significance on Remembrance Sunday when people from across the area come together to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom The park was gifted to the people of Motherwell in September 1917 by the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton who once owned a great deal of land in the area.

Police Scotland said that the incident which saw the memorial and nameplates vandalised happened between Saturday, June 8 and Monday, June 10 and appealed for witnesses.