VETERANS, police and the public have blasted a thoughtless vandal whose white spraypaint scrawl obscured the names of fallen World War I soldiers on the Anzac Walk.
Waratah teacher Andrew Frith snapped a shot of the vandalism on Thursday night, just a day after the region fell silent to pay its respects on Remembrance Day.
He posted it to social media with a simple message – ‘‘It takes a special kind of scumbag to show this level of disrespect.’’
Thousands quickly agreed, sending the post around the region before council crews could start scrubbing the rusted silhouette clean.
‘‘How can someone do that to a place that is built in honour of the fallen,’’ commenter Tracey Hughes wrote on Facebook.
The vandal’s words will likely fade quickly, according to the council, but veteran and mental health volunteer Gerry Bailey said the damage had been done.
He said the city needed to appreciate the solemnity of the $4.5 million clifftop walk built to mark a century since the Gallipoli landing.
Mr Bailey said dog-walkers and businesses handing out flyers were among the inappropriate behaviours he had observed.
‘‘People need to realise it’s a war memorial, it’s not just some place you can go up to and do whatever you want,’’ Mr Bailey said.
‘‘To desecrate a war memorial, you can go to jail for that.
‘‘Where someone would want to go up and spray-paint over the names of the people who died for them to live the way they do, that’s beyond my comprehension.’’
Newcastle police’s Chief Inspector Dean Olsen urged anyone with information to share it.
‘‘Police are disgusted with this crime,’’ he said on Friday.