Eccles has been left in a state of shock after a serial squatter who is part of a group which have taken over a local pub, was witnessed aiming a rocket above the heads of the crowd gathered to pay their respects to the nations war dead.
As the chimes rang out at 11am on what was supposed to be a peaceful and tranquil day of remembrance for the market town, a rocket was fired from the second floor window of the boarded up Albert Edward pub which has since closure become a home to squatters claiming it as a homeless shelter.
When it comes to remembering those who were lost to war and conflict the proud people of Eccles never fail to turn out to pay their respects and display their pride for the fallen. Over the years the numbers that do so have risen exponentially and for the people of Eccles it has become a huge focal point of the local calendar. Both young and old gather on remembrance day and stand in silence as their thoughts are with those who selflessly gave their lives defending the nation from its enemies. This year however, that silence was disrespectfully broken by a single stupid individual.
Our reporter Tony Flynn was at the cenotaph to pay his own respects and could not believe the disrespectful scenes he had witnessed, he told us that he saw a man wearing camouflage clothing sat on the upper floor window ledge of the pub drinking from a can shortly before the incident.
Just a few moments later the silence was broken as a firework screeched above the heads of the crowds of men, women and children who had turned out to honour the heroes.
From the tell-tale trail of smoke left behind in the sky it was obvious to all where it had originated from, the same upper window of the Albert Edward pub.
Tony told us that had it been aimed a little lower or had gone off course then it could have hit the crowds causing serious injuries.
Fortunately no one was injured in the attack but there were some within the crowd who were left visibly shaken as many were ex service men and women, some still suffering the devastating affects of PTSD as a result of the atrocities they had witnessed, others were young children that had gone with their families to pay their respects.
One lady described it as the most disrespectful act that the streets of Eccles have ever bore witness too, with some calling for the police to take action and close the squat immediately.
"This was supposed to be a day to remember our heroic war dead, instead it was ruined by a single act of utter disrespect and idiocy.
"I am so proud of my town, we always come out to honour our armed services.
"For one disrespectful scumbag to ruin it for everyone is just shameful.
"He and his ilk are no longer welcome in this town or indeed in this City."
Other witnesses described how several furious service men angrily tried to force their way through a door into the pub but fortunately for the occupants they were stopped by the police. Tempers were frayed and the level of anger was at boiling point. If it was not for the fantastic job of the police in how they handled the situation, things could have easily escalated and gotten out of hand. Fortunately the crowd kept their composure and allowed the police to deal with the situation.
The man climbed onto the window ledge in an attempt to resist arrest but he was quickly pulled back in by police.
Another lady who did not wish to be identified told us,
"I honestly can not believe how stupid I was, I donated to these people as I genuinely wanted to help, as did countless others who it seems have been duped as I have.
"I am not rich by any standard but the people of Salford are well known for putting their hands in their pockets to help those less fortunate, from now on I will be donating to local foodbanks."
Furious crowds looked on in disbelief, trying to understand just what had happened as chants of 'Get Him Out' rang out.
As they watched on, the man wearing combat clothing was marched shackled in handcuffs from the pub by police and placed into an awaiting police car to be taken away, the crowds then turned their anger towards those left in the pub demanding that they also be removed.
Calls were made by members of the public for the arrest of another individual who had been seen to spit at the veterans as they spoke to the police outside the pub.
GMP have since confirmed that a 38-year-old male has been now been arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and that he has been taken into custody for further questioning.
The situation still remains volatile with police stationed outside the Albert Edward to ensure the safety of those who are still holed up in the squat, whose occupants were recently the focus of a BBC news report into homelessness.
Those within the disused pub are claiming that they are occupying it as a pop up homeless shelter for vulnerable people and for the most part the fantastic people of Salford have been supportive of them, alas, over the past few months that support has dwindled due to a long list of dubious incidents reported by members of the public that have not exactly been too favourable to the plight of those using the shelter.
Despite all the disruption which had happened the good people of Eccles once more did our armed services proud, they picked up and carried on.
Anyone with information or video footage which could help the police with their enquiries should contact the police on 101 quoting incident number 1183 of 10/11/2019, or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Photo: Tony Flynn