A HELMET placed on a Second World War memorial plinth to commemorate thousands of soldiers who were based at Stourport's former US Army camp has been stolen by callous vandals.

Thieves managed to prize the genuine American service helmet - which was filled with concrete and fixed to the top of the structure - between 9pm on Sunday and 9am on Tuesday, causing about £250 worth of damage - including the £50 value of the helmet.

It is based at Burlish Top, off Kingsway, Stourport and the plinth also contains, information boards about the history of the site.

The memorial was unveiled last year as part of the £4,000 Burlish Camp Project, which was paid for using Heritage Lottery Fund grant money. The helmet specifically commemorates the 6,000 to 10,000 American troops that were based at the site, including 4,000 who arrived at the camp in 1943 as the Allies prepared for D-Day the following year.

Project manager Geoff Shaw said: "As project manager I am extremely upset. Unfortunately this kind of thing does occur and its not the first time this site has been targetted but it is the worst one we have had.

"We will be looking to replace it, we will not leave it how it is now but we do not know exactly how we can do that. There is no funding in the project any more, so we will have to beg and borrow and get help with funds we will have a look at what we can do.

"I do not think whoever has done this has done it with any thought about what they are doing, they just think it is a good idea. It must have taken considerable time and effort for them to get this helmet off.

"The project site has been very popular since its launch, a lot of people comment on it and we have had visits from the United States and other places. The amount of information we receive on the camp has increased significantly and we have got another school visit due next week, it is not great because I doubt we will have it sorted by then."

After April, 1944 the camp was converted into a US Army hospital and then became home to American and Polish Second World War veterans. Project leaders had pushed for the memorial plinth and information boards to be installed at the site to increase awareness of Stourport's war history. It was unveiled in February last year by Adrian and Neil Turley, authors of US Army at Camp in Bewdley and the Wyre Forest Area: 1943-1945.

A spokeswoman for West Mercia Police said the incident had happened between 9pm on bank holiday Monday and 9am on Tuesday. She added: "We are appealing for information from anyone who knows anything about this. It might have been dumped somewhere or someone might have tried to sell it. We would ask any dog walkers if they have seen anything."

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting incident 189-S-050514, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.