A 98-year-old RAF veteran has made a desperate plea for his stolen Second World War medals to be returned so he can be buried with them.
John Marshall, known as Jim, 98, feels left out when he goes out with other veterans as he cannot proudly wear the four medals he was awarded for serving his country.
And a year after he was burgled he has asked for the medals back so he can be buried with them when the time comes.
Jim, of Blackpool, Lancs., said: “When I discovered the medals were gone a few days later I was very upset.
“I thought I had misplaced them, but they had gone through my drawers and emptied them all out.
“I would love them back. I feel a bit out of place when I go to services and other people have their medals on.
“I would like to be buried with them.
“They were real keepsakes to remind me of the time in the RAF.”
Jim, who served throughout the entire Second World War after joining as a teenager in 1939, was burgled by a couple in the flat above, who he had helped settle in by giving them some light bulbs.
Among the items taken from the pensioner who has lived in the flat for 14 years, were his four war service medals, keepsakes which brought back memories of comradeship for the bachelor.
Neighbour Vicki McCullion, who regards Jim as her surrogate granddad, has rallied the troops to try and find the stolen medals or buy him a new set.
She said: “Jim is a wonderful man and a brilliant neighbour. He would do anything for anyone. A real character and we treat him as part of our family.
“My kids walk his dog for him. He is fit and active, he is always out walking and even helps charities.
“He had them stolen two years ago by some heroin addicts who took all sorts of stuff from his home while he was out.”
“It was just before Christmas and they took his TV so we had to lend him one.
“When the police traced the thieves the only thing they managed to recover was the remote control for his TV.
“He told me he would love to have been buried with those medals, they mean that much to him.”
Jim was in Malaya when the Japanese army launched a fierce attack that saw the British army forced back to India, his signals unit having to pack up and fall back rapidly before they fell into enemy hands.
After the war he worked as a cook and in his spare time supported his favourite charity the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.
Up until this year, when he suffered ill health due to a heart condition, Jim was a regular in their fundraising shop two days a week and regularly stood with a collection tin for the life saving charity.
His neighbours have managed to source a 1939-1945 Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-1945, but need to find a Burma Star and the 1939-1945 RAF Star.
Jim said: “I cant believe everyone is making such as fuss, but they are very kind.
“The couple who took the medals broke open my meters to get the coins and they took my television which I had only just got through the catalogue and still had to pay for.
“I was not any sort of hero just doing my duty. I signed up straight away as a volunteer with my brother Frank.
“I had some wonderful times and wonderful friends during the war.”
Vicki added: “Jim is one of those people who has done so much for this country that he deserves to get something back.
“I have a real respect for our veterans, they have given so much. This was a terrible thing, heartbreaking.
“People have been brilliant with donations and we have already got two of the medals we need to give to him.”
To support Jim in getting his medals back: CLICK HERE