Islanders say they are devastated by the theft of three hand-carved wooden plaques from Orkney's famous Italian Chapel built by Italian prisoners during World War Two. 

The plaques are approximately 6in by 8in with a small wooden cross on the top edge.

John Muir, the Secretary of the Italian Chapel Preservation Society, said the theft of the of the plaques was "devastating".

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The church has since become a major Orkney tourist attraction drawing more than 90,000 visitors a year.
The prisoners were held in what was designated Camp 60, which comprised 13 huts on the uninhabited island of Lambholm. Several hundred PoWs were put to work on a major construction project to shore up the defences of Scapa Flow.

Four concrete causeways linking four islands - the Churchill Barriers - were built on the orders of the wartime prime minister to stop German U-boats from attacking ships at anchor in Orkney's natural harbour.

The Italian prisoners were given two Nissan huts  in 1943 to convert into a place for them to worship. They led by one among them Domenico Chiocchetti, a gifted painter who had been captured in North Africa.

Before the chapel was built Chiocchetti, produced a statue of St George fashioned from barbed wire and covered with concrete. The prisoners also worked to build a theatre and a recreation hut. But today the chapel and Chiocchetti's St George are all that remain of Camp 60.

In 1964 Chiocchetti returned to Orkney with his wife to make a personal gift to the chapel of 14 panels of the Stations of the Cross hand-carved in Cirmo wood. There was also a   gift from the mayor and community of Moena, where he was from, of a standing crucifix and altar cruets of Venetian glass.

Police are asking anyone with information to get in touch.