A son has been reunited with his Sheffield father’s stolen war medals – after he found them on eBay.
Stuart Abbott, aged 67, thought his father Fred’s war medals were gone forever and suspected they had been stolen during a house move.
Fred, who was from Heeley, fought in France during World War Two and was evacuated from Dunkirk. He also fought in Burma.
He originally joined the army as a soldier in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders when he was 19 and was conscripted into the West Yorkshire Regiment to fight in World War Two.
Over his career, was awarded the Burma Star, the 1939 to 1945 War Star, the King George war medal and a round bronze Cameron Highlander service medal with his name, rank and number engraved on it.
Stuart created a framed montage of the medals and photographs of his father in uniform for Fred’s 80th birthday. The gift took pride of place in Fred’s living room until he passed away in 2001.
Stuart said: “We didn’t know what to get him but we made a montage of the medals, his pay book and some pictures of him in his uniform, in his burma kit. They did mean a lot to him.” Until his death, Fred lived with Stuart and his family in South Africa.
Afterwards, the Abbotts moved to France and then to England and the medals were kept in storage for several years.
It was only 18 months ago – when their possessions were finally unpacked – that they realised the medals were missing.
Stuart said: “When we finally unpacked we couldn’t find it. It had disappeared. I was resigned to the fact that it was gone. I suspected they had been stolen in South Africa.”
Then last month Stuart, a keen collector of antiques, was looking at buying a Cameroon Highland Bugle in an auction catalogue.
“It was just as a memento, I had a look to see how much it was going for on eBay,” he said. “A long list came up, loads of stuff, everything connected to the Cameron Highlanders. I was scrolling through when I saw some medals which had F Abbott on them. I thought, ‘That’s strange,’ but I thought there could have been another F Abbott.”
However, the seller was listed as being in South Africa.Stuart said: “I thought, ‘Well, what are the chances? The odds are getting less.’ I called the seller and said I have a feeling they might be my father’s. He said he bought them in 2006 in Cape Town which fits in with the dates of us moving.”
In an act of kindness, the seller sent him the medals free of charge. When they arrived Stuart found that the words ‘best shot’ were punched into the back of the bronze Cameron Highlander medal – an inscription which he had put there himself. They were his father’s medals.
Stuart said: “My father didn’t talk much about the wars but he did tell me he was the best shot in the regiment. To get these back is incredible.
“My children are really pleased. We collect antiques and I can’t understand people who sell their family history. I can’t part with anything.”
Stuart is planning to create another montage with the medals and display them in his home.