‘I feel sorry for the thieves’ says grandson of war hero after statue is stolen from VE display in Lockeridge

A FURIOUS dad has called on thieves to return his war hero grandad’s statue they stole from a VE Day display outside his home.

It holds huge sentimental value to the family of Corporal John Davidson, who died in 2013.

“I would like the statue back,” said grandson Jon Davidson, of Lockeridge.

“It means a lot to my family and and probably means nothing to the person or people that took it.

“They know where I live if they read this and decide to return it.”

The 18-inch statue was from the last trip Cpl Davidson made to Arnhem before he died. He would revisit the Dutch city every year.

Jon said: “I heard a car pull up outside, and felt something was wrong.

“Other cars had slowed to have a look, but I heard voices, and they sounded wrong. I went out to look and saw the statue had been taken.

“I got in my car and tried to follow them,” he said.

“But they had gone and I couldn’t find them.

“We are upset, but I didn’t want my son Joshua to worry or be angry.

“I said to him that we should feel sorry for people who do this kind of thing.

“There is something wrong with them.”

Cpl Davidson was captured after fighting in Arnhem on the same day his son was born.

His wife didn’t know and spent months not knowing he was alive until word was passed on via radio that he had been captured and was a prisoner of war.

Prisoners were treated very badly and Cpl Davidson spent a year rehabilitating after VE Day.

Jon added: “Joshua and I put the display outside celebrate and commemorate VE Day.”

“His school Kennet Valley Primary encouraged people to send in pictures of what they had done.

“I did think twice about putting things that are so personally valuable outside but I thought with the current lockdown situation and spirit everyone is showing and the fact it was the 75th anniversary, we should do something special to remember his great-grandad and the sacrifices his generation made.

“It’s something my family are very committed to with both grandads serving throughout the Second World War.

“John was captured after nine days of fighting in Arnhem when the contingent that was left in Oosterbeek were ordered to retreat over the river and the Germans over-ran his position.

“I was hoping to pass the statue on to my children when they grow older.”

The theft has struck a chord with Gazette & Herald readers, with more than100 people sharing and reposting the article online in hope of getting the statue back.

“We’ve really been cheered up by the messages and reaction on Facebook. It has been much appreciated,” said Jon.

Police have been told about the theft. Anyone with information should call 101.

A hero’s story

OPERATION Market Garden was fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War and Corporal Davidson played a heroic role in it in Arnhem.

Hundreds of aircraft took off from Down Ampney and Blake Hill and one of the gliders was flown by Cpl Davidson, serving with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, part of the 1st Airborne Division tasked with securing the final bridge at Arnhem.

Many of the gliders crash landed, killing crew. Cpl Davidson survived and rescued injured crew members.

The Borderers were called to retreat on September 25, 1944. But Cpl Davidson was unaware the retreat had been ordered. So he helped wounded soldiers who had been left behind and moved them into the cellar hoping they would remain undetected as the Germans over-ran the now undefended positions. He was forced to surrender when the Germans discovered the cellar some time later. The journey to the prisoner-of-war camps was brutal, with little or no food.

When the 7th KOSB held a roll call it showed only four officers and 72 ranks, from a total strength of 740 that entered Arnhem had survived.

This is Wiltshire

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