A World War Two Normandy veteran who spent 10 months as a prisoner of war in the notorious Stalag IV-B camp has been burgled while visiting his sick wife in a nursing home.
Don Walker, aged 90, who still bears the scars of his time as a POW, had been to see his beloved wife of 62 years, Cynthia, when his home was ransacked.
The heartless burglar who targeted the OAP’s bungalow, off Abbeydale Road South, discovered Don’s treasured war medals – but dropped them, police believe, as he fled when Don returned home.
They were found scattered on Don’s sofa.
The retired accountant said today he feels ‘absolutely sickened and shattered’ by the burglary.
The father-of-two, who has six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, said: “My home was absolutely ransacked, every drawer and cupboard was open and everything had been tipped out.
“I am very upset and feel absolutely sickened and shattered somebody could do this – I just stood in the doorway when I returned home and looked around in amazement and shock.”
Don fought in the D-Day campaign 70 years ago next month, but on July 15, 1944, his tank was blown up and the other four men inside were killed.
After weeks as a hostage of German soldiers and the SS, he spent a month in a stifling cattle truck being transported to Stalag IV-B, where conditions were grim.
He developed ulcers on his legs from the dirt and malnutrition, and lost three stone in weight. He was listed as missing in action, feared dead - and for six months before his eventual return to Sheffield his family in Heeley thought he had been killed.
He said he believes the burglar was looking for money.
“Whoever did this left the TV, my camera and my war medals, which I treasure. He had got the war medals out, but the police believe he was disturbed by me arriving home and must have dropped them as he ran out of the back.
“I would have been devastated if the medals had gone.”
Don said he may never tell Cynthia, 88, about the break-in. Some of her jewellery is thought to have been taken, but Cynthia is too frail to be informed.
“Cynthia has been in the nursing home for a month after spending seven weeks in hospital, after the powers-that-be decided I could no longer look after her, so it’s very upsetting she is there at all. Then there is this to deal with on top,” he said.
“We have been married for 62 years and she nursed me with my heart problems, and this was my time to care for her, but she can’t come home now.”
He said he wanted to thank South Yorkshire Police for the way officers looked after him on the night of the raid.
Det Sgt Wayne Price, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “This sort of crime is dreadful for anyone unlucky enough to experience it, let alone a vulnerable pensioner who returned to find his home completely ransacked.
“Inquiries are ongoing and we are awaiting the results of forensic examinations. We are also appealing for any witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.”
n Call South Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting incident 1,013 of May 6, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.