Bronze swords have been stolen from a 100-year-old South London war memorial in an act branded “brutal vandalism”.

The Grade II listed memorial has stood in Mitcham since 1920 and bears the names of more than 500 local people who died in the First World War.

In mid-June it was discovered that the swords had been stolen, though it is not clear when they went missing.

On advice from Merton Council and Historic England, Tony Burton from the Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage group reported the incident to the police as a heritage crime on Wednesday.

Mr Burton said: “They have been removed in a fairly robust manner, they have been wrenched off so I don’t know if there is any other damage.

"The swords are an integral part of the memorial, there were four of them and three have disappeared.

“For such brutal vandalism to be caused is a shock to the system. It is such an important memorial and part of the area. 

"We got it nationally listed very recently, in 2017, that shows it is important and also means any damage it a criminal offence. 

“We are going to be in touch with the war memorial trust, we are looking at what options there are to get funding to get a replacement.”

The memorial was officially unveiled in November 1920 at a ceremony attended by 5,000 people.

Inscribed on the tribute are the names of 588 locals who lost their lives in the First World War.

It was restored in 1962 and an additional panel added with a dedication to those who died during the Second World War.

The sculpted bronze swords are part of the “architectural interest” for which it was given listed status by Historic England in 2017.

Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Merton Council’s cabinet member for civic pride said: “We’re extremely disappointed that the swords have been removed from the war memorial at Lower Green West, and we will work with Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage to help them replace them.”

Met Police confirmed the theft was reported and are investigating the incident.