A precious bronze war memorial plaque bearing names of some of the Accrington Pals has been stolen from a church garden wall.
The five foot-wide plaque, featuring around 12 names of soldiers from the Accrington Pals, had been fixed on the wall of a garden at New Lane Baptist Church Oswaldtwistle for at least 10 years.
But church members were disgusted when it got ripped off the wall.
The Rev Roy Parker said: "It’s been forcefully removed. Whether they have taken it to claim money on it for metal because it will be worth something or whether they have panicked and taken it, I don’t know. I just hope it gets found.
"I think there were around 12 people’s names on it, mostly names of those who died in the First World War."
He added: "It’s an important part of the church.
"We have been making efforts to search for it. Someone even called us to say they had seen the memorial lying on a road nearby but it had gone by the time we got there. If we do get it back at all we will put it inside the building." The plaque was discovered to be missing on Monday, September 26 .
Roy Lockwood, a church and Royal British Legion member, is disgusted the plaque has been taken.
It is 95 years since the Pals took to the battlefield in the Somme. Of the 1,100 friends who enlisted in the regiment, 235 men were killed and 350 were wounded on the first day of fighting alone.
Roy said: "It’s a shame. Whether it will ever be returned I don’t know. I have my doubts. It’s important the names on there are remembered.
"I think the plaque has been neglected to an extent, and I’m guilty of that too. It should have been put inside as it was vulnerable to this but it wasn’t. I don’t know how much money will be made if someone has sold it, but it’s priceless to a lot of people."