A COMMUNITY champion and her councillor grandson have been left devastated after a poppy wreath laid in memory of a family war hero was taken from a war memorial.

Doris Willan left her own tribute to Harold Peacock, the paternal grandfather of Cllr Christopher Peacock, at the Victoria Square memorial on Monday, when the centenary of the outbreak of World War One was marked.

Mr Peacock was decorated during the World War Two when, as a member of the Merchant Navy, he and his crew faced down an attack from a German U-boat. He died in 1983.

Mrs Willan, aged 80, said she was horrified that when she returned to the town centre on Tuesday from her home in Tonge Moor, the poppy, along with five others, had been removed from the small green space next to the war memorial.

Cllr Peacock had asked council staff to review CCTV footage over the square, but was told there were no cameras covering the memorial.

Retired secretary Mrs Willan, who was made an MBE for her voluntary work with young people, said: “How disrespectful can some people be?

"I wanted to remember Christopher’s grandfather on his dad’s side, because he was a lovely gentleman and was so proud of what he did in the war. He was a real hero.

“Christopher was busy at the World War One service, so I thought, I’ll do it for him.

“But then 24 hours later it was gone. It’s wicked.”

Cllr Peacock said he could not believe somebody had taken the poppy tribute to his grandfather.

He said: “My gran came along to the commemorations on Monday and watched it from the crowd. She really enjoyed it and was moved by it, so she decided to put down her own tribute.

"I just don’t understand why would someone want to steal a poppy with a name on it?

“I’m disappointed there isn’t CCTV footage, but I accept we don’t have CCTV covering every inch of Victoria Square.

“I think the question should be, why on earth would someone want to take it? Especially on the same day as the outbreak of fighting for World War One was marked.”

A spokesman said council staff had not removed the memorials.