THESE photos show the vile imagery and vandalism that has defaced a beautiful mural that paid homage to the fallen soldiers of the First World War.

The memorial, located on an Environment Agency gauge station in Witham’s River Walk, has been vandalised with offensive words and crude imagery.

The mural, which was ordered by Witham Town Council and created by New Rickstone Academy pupils and graffiti artist Scott Irving in 2015, was defaced between April 1 and 2.

The mural covers every wall of the gauge station and has many touching artworks depicting soldiers from the First World War and poppies.

Braintree and Witham Times: View - two sides of the muralView - two sides of the mural (Image: Newsquest)

Witham Town Council deployed its open spaces team last week and has successfully removed some of the graffiti.

However, imagery shows that certain sides of the mural is still heavily vandalised.

The walls of the station that face the river are heavily covered in antisocial graffiti.

Crude images and  swear words have been daubed in silver spray paint.

Braintree and Witham Times: Horrible - graffitiHorrible - graffiti (Image: River Walk)

The mural was to mark Witham's First World War centenary commemorations and took about a week to complete.

The council is now looking to cover the mural in a toughened clear plastic material to prevent it being damaged in the future.

The authority is also looking into extending its CCTV network to include cameras in the area and asking the artist to repaint over the vandalism.

But the repairs and any further steps to protect the artwork in the future will come at a cost, according to the council.

Braintree and Witham Times: Clean - an unscathed mural at the stationClean - an unscathed mural at the station (Image: Newsquest)

Braintree and Witham Times: Disrespectful - more graffitiDisrespectful - more graffiti (Image: Newsquest)

Council leader Councillor Phil Barlow said: "It's always sad when these things occur, particularly for a remembrance mural.

"To do it again - it beggars belief that people don’t consider the impact.

"I do hope we have sufficient images to track down the people involved.

"I just find it mindless, and I hope we are able to track them down, it is very difficult depending on their age, but there has to be accountability."

Anyone with information about the vandalism is urged to contact Essex Police, quoting crime reference 42/52960/24.