A SECOND World War veteran has expressed his disgust at yobs who "beheaded" the Heroes' Shrine at Aldershot.

Former RAF aircraft fitter Leslie Thorn was shocked when he discovered the damage to the statue in Manor Park.

"I think its disgraceful that youngsters have no respect for a memorial which honours those who died for their country," he said.

"It's particularly heartbreaking for me because I lost a lot of friends in the war."

Mr Thorn, 86, of St George's Road, said as a youngster he would never have dreamed of doing such a thing.

"We used to get up to a few pranks," he added. "But we never caused any damage, it was more than our lives were worth."

He believes the damage may have been caused by drug addicts who regularly congregate in the park.

The attack is a blow to Rushmoor Council which recently spent a great deal of money renovating the monument.

Council planning chief Keith Holland said: "It's very disappointing that people can't leave the shrine alone.

"It's not the first time the head has been knocked off, and we are often having to clean off graffiti."

The head, which has had its nose broken, has been recovered by the council and it will cost about £6000 to repair.

Mr Holland said it was unlikely to be replaced until improved security measures were in place next Spring.

"We intend to install a CCTV camera in the area, and by then we should have park rangers on patrol," he added.