Vandals have destroyed a pear tree planted by Princess Anne to mark the centenary of the Quintinshill rail disaster.
The tree in Gretna Green marked the loss of over 220 lives of soldiers and civilians, and was planted in May by The Princess Royal. Quintinshill remains the worst rail accident on British soil, despite taking place in 1915.
The police have described it as a ‘wanton act of vandalism’.
Councillor Archie Dryburgh, who was chairman of the Quintinshill Commemoration committee, said: “It is very disrespectful and defies belief that someone would do this.
He added: “The pear tree was planted by Princess Anne, as patron of the Royal Scots Association, near the war memorial with a large number of the community of all ages watching.
“As well as being a poignant moment honouring those who died at Quintinshill, it was also a moment of pride for the community remembering also those who did what they could to help 100 years ago.
“It took two years to plan for the commemoration and was a special day for the community, relatives of those who died, and everyone who came. And we were looking forward to a plaque being erected near the tree soon.
“It is despicable that someone would do this; very, very disrespectful. We are all totally shocked.”
Residents from the local area, as well as politicians watched the tree planting back in May, but the sapling was chopped down overnight on Friday.
Gretna-based Constable Andy Aitken said: “It beggars belief that someone has carried out such a wanton act of vandalism.
“We are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious in the area of The Green at Gretna Green to get in touch through 101 if they can help.”
Councillor Dryburgh is urging the public to help the police find the culprits and plans to ask the council to replace the tree.