Rows of red poppies placed carefully to honour those who have given their lives for their country have been kicked and flattened days before the world comes together to commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War.

Far from being in a pristine condition in time for the people to honour soldiers and others who fought for their country, the war memorials in Mitcham and Figges Marsh are strewn with litter.

Merton Council said it is appalling the poppies have been vandalised and it works hard to keep the borough clean.

Wimbledon Guardian:

Campaigners from Merton Matters, an anti-litter group which organised the Big Spring Clean event in April are among those to express their disgust.

Founder Dan Goode said there were plastic bags and cans on the Mitcham memorial in Lower Green, Mitcham.

Mr Goode said: "Both Mitcham and Figges Marsh were covered in litter, it seemed very sad.

"The council is working on it but it just symbolised the problems we have with litter – it highlighted it.

"What are we saying as residents of Mitcham when we are doing this to our memorials?

"Why do people have no pride in their area?"

Mr Goode said the problem with litter in Merton is getting worse, and seeing discarded bottles and cans in such a poignant place was very sad.

Cabinet member for environmental cleanliness, Councillor Judy Saunders said: "It is appalling that the poppies around Mitcham War Memorial have been vandalised. The memorial should be treated with respect, particularly now that we are in the centenary of the First World War.

"We litter pick this area every week and are working hard to keep Merton clean, which costs the council more than £5million every year, much of which could be better spent on vital services, if the minority of people would dispose of their litter responsibly."

On Monday, August 4, millions of people all over the UK and Europe will mark the beginning of the first world war, which claimed about 37million lives over four years from 1914 to 1918.