CALLOUS thugs have attacked a war memorial in Glasgow's East End.

A campaign, led by local resident Jim Watson, raised £17,000 to build a war memorial for Dennistoun's war dead.

But Jim was horrified to learn the memorial had been attacked overnight with what he described as a 'petrol bomb'.

Yesterday morning police were at the scene, where a smashed glass bottle, burnt paper and the remnants of a fire could be seen.

The Evening Times first revealed Jim's plans to ensure the community's war dead were commemorated.

He initially aimed to raise £10,000 but donations flooded in and £17,000 was raised.

The memorial was designed by a pupil from local St Denis' Primary School and is due to be unveiled on September 29.

A blue tarpaulin covering the memorial while it is under development has been completely melted.

And there are scorch marks left all over the stone tribute.

Jim said: "I am gutted. Absolutely gutted.

"We have worked very hard to let people know that this is not a sectarian thing, it is a memorial to young men and women from Dennistoun who fought for our country.

"The memorial was designed by a young boy from the local Catholic primary school and the local Catholic church is invited to our opening ceremony.

"So I really hope this was not a sectarian attack but it is so disappointing after all our hard work."

Jim had been out walking his dog in Alexandra Park, home to the memorial, around 10.30pm on Thursday night and said the site was as it should be.

A woman walking in the park at 6am yesterday morning spotted the damage to the 2.5 tonne stone.

Jim added: "They have come in during the night and done what they've done.

"The damage is extremely obvious. There was a large blue tarpaulin that is entirely melted, broken glass bottles and scorch marks on the stone."

Crime scene officers were yesterday morning gathering evidence at the memorial, which sits in Alexandra Park.

It is not believed the incident involved a petrol bomb, however signs of fire were obvious.

The war memorial was an entirely community-based project with local money raised, support from housing association Milnbank.

It was designed by St Denis' Primary pupil Owen McGuire, a design chosen after St Denis', Golfhill and Alexandra Parade primaries and Whitehill Secondary pupils entered a competition .

Local councillor Elaine McDougall, who has long backed the campaign, said: "It is shocking.

"We are so near to getting the memorial finished.

"This is deeply disrespectful to all the young men and women from Dennistoun who who fought and died.

"I would like to pay tribute to Jim and to everyone who have been working extremely hard to making this memorial happen.

"If anyone has any information then please bring it to the police."

Jim had researched Dennistoun's part in the First World War and has found, after painstakingly going through the records, that 874 men from the area died in the conflict.

Paul Sweeney, Glasgow North East Labour MP, said: “I am utterly disgusted by the vicious attack on the new Dennistoun War Memorial, which has only just been installed.

“The community have put a huge amount of work into realising this project, which recognises local heroes. The unveiling will still go ahead.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells added: “The attack on the war memorial in Dennistoun is absolutely disgraceful.

“The fact that it was so close to completion must be particularly heart-breaking for the community.

“Everyone was affected by the terrible loss of life during the world wars, so these despicable vandals insult and hurt us all.

“I would ask that if anyone has any information on the attack to please go and speak to the police.

“This kind of cruel and pointless vandalism has no place in Scotland.”

There are plans to unveil the memorial on September 29.

Jim, a taxi driver, plans to organise a parade from City Park Business Centre on Alexandra Parade to the main gates of Alexandra Park, which will be home to the memorial.

A pipe band,veteran associations including the Royal Highland Fusiliers and the Parachute Regiment, cadet troops, Scouts, Boys Brigade,Girl Guides and local schools will take part all filmed by forces TV station BFBS.

And the stone will be unveiled by Dennistoun resident of 40 years, former Cameronian Colour Sargeant Dick Gilmour, 84.

Jim, a former Territorial Army reserve, added: "We are still going ahead with the opening plans.

"This will not stop us."

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland confirmed officers are treating the incident as vandalism.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the non-emergency number 101.