Posts Tagged ‘returned’

World War Two hero’s wedding ring returned 70 years after it was lost

March 13th, 2015

The ring was presented to one of his surviving relatives, his 92-year-old sister, Dorothy Webster, along with a fuel gauge from the bomber and a rock from the mountain into which it crashed.

The inside of the gold ring is inscribed with the names John and Joyce – Flt Sgt Thompson had married a Londoner called Joyce Mozley in June 1944, before being sent off on active service. She remarried after the war but died in 1995.

His Halifax, part of 148 Squadron, crashed about 25 miles north of Tirana, the Albanian capital, while delivering weapons and other supplies to Albanian partisans fighting the Nazis.

In 1960 a local man, Jaho Cala, found the ring while out collecting wood in the mountains.

Nervous about informing the Communist authorities of the Hoxha regime, he took it home and kept it hidden for decades.

He later revealed its existence to his son, Xhemil Cala, instructing him to try to find out who it belonged to.

His son, who became a police officer, wore the ring for years and made several attempts to find out who it belonged to, but without success.

Two years ago he contacted the British and American embassies in Tirana, guessing that it may have belonged to an Allied airman flying missions over Albania.

In October, a team of British and US officials located the remains of the aircraft on the sides of a 6,000ft high mountain.

The British embassy were eventually able to confirm that the ring belonged to Sgt Thompson, who came from Darley Dale in Derbs. The embassy contacted his family and the relatives of the six other RAF crew members.

“Seventy years we’ve waited. We can’t believe that we’re here today celebrating this after all this time,” Mrs Webster, who was a year younger than her brother, told The Associated Press. “My father would have been thrilled to pieces with it all.”

She said she was “overwhelmed” to receive the ring and other items and that she still remembered her brother “very well, as if it were yesterday.”

She was accompanied by four of his nephews and other family members at a ceremony at the Albanian defence ministry in Tirana.

“Your brother helped to liberate my country. He will never be forgotten,” Mimi Kodheli, the defence minister, told her.

“All these years it has been a story of loss,” said one of her sons, Alan Webster. “We now know almost everything that happened. It’s a sense of closure. We know where John is. He’s over there in the mountain.”

His brother, Brian Webster, said: “Our grandfather and grandmother never locked the house in Matlock – (they were) waiting for their missing son.”

Another relative, Philip Thompson, said the family had struggled to obtain information from the War Office about Sgt Thompson’s fate “because he was part of a secret operation in Albania.”or a long time the family believed that he had crashed in Poland.

Presenting the ring, Xhemil Cala said he was relieved to have fulfilled his father’s wish that it be returned to the airman’s family. “I will go to his grave and say rest in peace for your dying wish has been fulfilled,” he said.

Arthur Gilbert, 91, a childhood friend of the RAF flight engineer, told the Matlock Mercury last year: “He was a cheery little lad and he came from a big family. It was very sad to hear that he had never returned from the war.”


World War Two

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Tapestry looted by Nazis to be returned to French chateau

June 22nd, 2014

Staff worked with the Art Loss Register, an international company that tracks down lost and stolen art and the tapestry is now being returned to its rightful home, the chateau in Normandy where it had hung for over 200 years.

The work was made by Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory in around 1720, shows a scene from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and is now “easily worth tens of thousands of pounds”, according to James Ratcliffe, of the ALR.

A university spokesperson said: “The tapestry was looted at a time when Comte Bernard de la Rochefoucauld and his wife were both imprisoned in concentration camps.

“Comte Bernard was an active member of the French Resistance before his arrest in Paris in 1943. He died in 1944 as a result of his treatment at Flossenburg concentration camp while his wife survived the war.”

Two other tapestries taken from the chateau at the same time are still missing.

Chateau de Versainville is now owned by Comte Jacques de la Rochefoucauld, the descendant of Comte Bernard’s brother, and has been significantly renovated.

Comte Jacques who travelled to Sheffield to view the tapestry said: “I am delighted and touched by the generosity of the University of Sheffield in returning the artwork.

“The university has demonstrated respect for those who have suffered from the ravages of war.

“The example that the University has set is one which I hope others will follow in due course, and demonstrates their respect for those who have suffered in the past from the ravages of war.

“In the year marking the 70th anniversary of the death of Comte Bernard de la Rochefoucauld this donation brings us great happiness.”

It will be exhibited with a plaque to mark its return to the chateau, 500 miles from Sheffield.

Lynne Fox, Heritage Officer at the University of Sheffield, stated that: “We are delighted to see the tapestry returned to its rightful home at the Chateau de Versainville and are very pleased to have been able to assist in this process.

“We were as surprised as anyone to discover the history of the tapestry but we have been working extremely hard to ensure it is returned to the Chateau where it can be appreciated in its original home.”

Mr Ratcliffe, Director of Recoveries at the Art Loss Register: “In practical terms it, would have been difficult, though not impossible, for the university to sell it without acknowledging the Comte and the object’s past.

“Often that might involve a financial settlement. But there are no laws that would have forced the university to return it like this. That is undoubtedly an act of generosity.”It has been a pleasure to assist in the restoration of this tapestry to its rightful home.

” We are extremely grateful to the University of Sheffield for their assistance and generosity. It is always satisfying to bring restitution cases to a conclusion and we hope to locate and recover the remaining two missing tapestries in due course through our work.

Since it was established in 1991, the ALR has tracked down lost and stolen art to a value of more than £200 million.


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