FEARS a life-size silhouette of a First World War soldier had been stolen were relinquished... after it emerged a council had moved it for safe-keeping.

Two Tommy soldiers were installed as “silent silhouettes”in Benfleet in November last year, ahead of the centenary celebrations.

One was positioned in the St Marys Churchyard, and the other near the war memorial, in Essex Way.

The Tommy, situated on Essex Way - the main road through Benfleet - was reported as stolen on Sunday, after members of the Basildon Community Archive realised it was missing, sparking an appeal for witnesses or information.

Members of the archive, which was instrumental in seeing the two Tommy silhouettes installed, feared the statue had been stolen, with part of the base broken and no sign of the silhouette nearby.

But the group were contacted yesterday by Castle Point Council, insisting it was removed for safe-keeping and will be stored until the next armistice event.

A post on the Benfleet Community Archive website said: “Back on Sunday 11th November 2018 Benfleet had two Tommies: one in St Marys Churchyard, and the other near the War Memorial.

“The one near the War Memorial appears to have gone missing.

“A check on Sunday 10th February 2019 showed that only the concrete base remains.

“It looks like it has been unscrewed from its base and taken away, although one of the holes looks like the fixing has been broken off.

“I checked across the road by looking through the gate to the electricity sub-station in case they had taken it down when doing some work nearby, but if it was there, it was not obviously in sight.

“I also checked St Marys Churchyard in case they had both been put together but it was not there.

“Can anybody help with information about where it is?”

Castle Point Council leader, Norman Smith, responded to the group to relieve any fears.

His response read: “I can assure you that the Tommy was removed by the council for safekeeping and will be returned to the site during the next armistice period.”