SERVICEMEN who staged a controversial Poppy Day protest against plans to uproot Crewe's war memorial have vowed to continue their fight.
Six members of the Memorial Action Team (MAT) stepped out of the traditional march past the Municipal Buildings in Crewe on Remembrance Sunday.
Other ex-servicemen who felt they could not pull out of the parade because of protocol also joined the action by refusing to salute the mayor of Crewe and Nantwich Steve Roberts.
MAT leader Frank Jones, 70, claimed the protest showed the strength of feeling among veterans about the borough council's plans to move the monument to the Municipal Square.
But civic leaders have been quick to condemn the demonstration and accuse the group of shamelessly using the memory of those who gave their lives in conflict.
Mr Jones, from Scott Avenue, said: 'We were anxious not to do anything that would detract from the main purpose of the day which was to pay our respects to those who died fighting for their country.
'But we wanted to show our disgust at the council's decision in a dignified manner. We originally intended to take part in the parade and peel off before the council buildings.
'But on the advice of the police six of us simply stepped out just before the parade left Market Square. We then stepped forward and bowed our heads to Britannia.'
Some ex-servicemen who did not join with MAT members in shunning the parade pointedly declined a traditional turning of 'eyes left' as they marched past the mayor.
Mr Jones said: 'I believe this action shows how much support we have, and I believe the group will succeed in making the council re-think its decision.
'The voices of the people of Crewe are being ignored by the council. They don't want the memorial moved, and we will continue to fight this all the way.'
War veteran and Royal British Legion member Jim Davies, 86, said he supported the actions of those who did not give the salute despite the sensitivity of the action.
He added: 'The council's decision to move the memorial is absolutely disgusting. We won't give up until the council re-considers and says the memorial is staying put.'
But Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council leader Peter Kent condemned the group's actions and said they had not realised snubbing the mayor was an affront to the Queen.
He said: 'I never thought this action was appropriate and I'm sorry that they felt their protest was more important than paying their respects to those who died.'
Cllr Kent added that the action will definitely not cause the council to change its stance.