A SOUTHEND war memorial has been put up for sale on eBay.

The roll of honour includes the names of members of Southend Constitutional Club who served in the First World War as part of a plaque.

Basildon Standard:

It was taken amid claims, which are disputed, that is was no longer wanted after the club closed.

Seller Mark Croucher, who is based in Swanage, Dorset, claimed he was the only person interested in the memorial and he saved it from the demolition pile... before advertising it for sale at £499.

He claimed he bought it in good faith from an auction house.

However the site, in Clarence Street, Southend, has not been demolished - although it did close in July due to a decline in membership.

A spokesman for the Association of Conservative Clubs disputed the seller’s account, or the information he had been given, and claimed nobody had permission to sell the memorial.

Charles Littlewood, assistant chief executive of the association, said: “We were alerted to this auction yesterday and we have contacted the seller and have liaised with the War Memorials Trust regarding this situation.

“In our opinion, it is unacceptable for any person to seek to profit by selling war memorials and we are dismayed that this situation has occurred.

“The building is owned by this Association and has not being demolished.

“We have not authorised the removal of this item from the site.

“We would urge the seller to voluntarily donate this item to the War Memorials Trust.

“If there is any evidence that this item has been stolen we will be asking the police to fully investigate this situation.”

There is no suggestion the item was stolen by the seller.

The memorial measures 55 by 42 by five inches, with inscription reading: “For King & Country, Roll of Honour to Members of the Southend-on-Sea Constitutional Club who served in His Majesty’s Forces during the Great War 1914-1919” and a brass plaque at the bottom which reads “Their Name Liveth for Evermore, Dedicated 9th March 1920”.

Southend resident Mark Spriggs said the private sale of the memorial was disrespectful.

He said: “It’s a sacred First World War monument that lists local soldiers who died in the Great War being disposed of.

“I think it’s a huge insult to local families of those who died.

“Something needs to be done about this.”

A spokesman for the War Memorials Trust said: “It is the view of the charity that the memorials should not be sold.

“We are engaging with all parties to encourage people to find a home for the memorial in Southend so the community can still commemorate those who fought in the war.

“That’s the ideal solution.

“We would encourage people to offer places to display the memorial as we understand previous efforts have been made to no success.”

Mr Croucher, 53, who stated he was a former naval officer, explained how he managed to come into possession of the item.

He said: “The roll of honour was bought from an auction in Kent. It is not a memorial.

“The parchment with the names was in poor condition, it had clearly been damp and stored in a shed for a few years.

“eBay have taken down the item because the War Memorial Trust reported it as stolen.

“But it definitely isn’t.

“The auctioneers I bought it from got it from a military artefacts dealer, they won’t reveal who it was.

“So it is now off the site.

“I am happy to try and facilitate its return to Southend, but I’m not a charity.”

Discussions are now taking place between the interested parties.