Ex-soldier's lost medal turns up in Blackpool charity shop 41 years after it was stolen
WHEN this former infantryman's medal was stolen 41 years ago, he thought he would never see it again.
So it was no surprise that Tony Williams wept when the medal, presented by Prince Charles, was returned this week – after it turned up in a Blackpool charity shop.
Thanks to a fellow veteran and the determination of his regimental comrades, Tony was overjoyed to be reunited with the treasured possession.
The 65-year-old lorry driver spent more than nine years as a private with the Cheshire Regiment, later renamed the Mercian Regiment.
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He was decorated with the General Service Medal in 1972 for two tours of duty in Northern Ireland, by the Prince Of Wales, the regiment's Colonel-in-Chief, when he was based in Berlin.
When Tony and his family returned to Britain, their belongings were packed into a wooden crate and sent to his next camp at Weeton, near Blackpool.
But the crate was broken into and the medal taken. His regiment only had details from when Tony lived in Hythe, in Kent.
So when the medal, still in its box, turned up in a charity shop in Kirkham, near Blackpool, it took a determined investigation to find the serviceman.
Luckily, the woman who spotted it, Joyce Robinson, had a relative who was also a veteran.
She showed it to ex-serviceman Brian O'Hare, who recognised its importance and he handed it over to officers at the Army Careers Office, in Preston.
They passed it on to the regimental headquarters in Chester. Their last record for Tony dated back to the 1960s, and he had lived in various barracks before moving to South Killingholme 25 years ago.
Fortunately, in 2009, he had presented old newspaper cuttings from Northern Ireland to the regimental museum and his address had been kept by staff there.
Regimental commander Major Eddie Pickering then sent the medal to Tony.
He said: "I was given a replacement some years ago by my family, which was nice, but it wasn't the one given to me by Charlie.
"It has taken a great deal of effort to get it back, for which I am very grateful. I will be able to wear it on Remembrance Day.
"Mr O'Hare would have known its importance; us veterans look after one another."
Tony, who works for Immingham Transport, the Burma Star medal of his father George Williams on his wall at home alongside the Women's Land Army Medal he obtained in memory of his mother Ivy.
Tony later served as a guard to Hitler's deputy, Rudolph Hess, at Spandau prison in Berlin, where he died in 1987.