The relative of a real life hero and the mystery of the missing medals .An isolated incident ?
Caroline Dee discovered the two Military Cross groups of medals awarded to her father Brigadier Peter Curtis and grandfather had been replaced with duplicates after one set appeared for sale on the open market.
When a renowned military family bequeathed a set of gallantry medals to their local Army museum they might have imagined visitors pausing to reflect on the brave deeds carried out by their relatives in the name of Queen and country.
After all, the collection included two of the highest awards for valour in action to be presented to British servicemen.
One was a prestigious Distinguished Service Order, awarded to a High Ranking veteran of both world wars.
Another was the Military Cross, awarded to his son for taking a German held position in the western desert at the height of WW2 .
It therefore came as a shock when The Recipient’s own granddaughter discovered that the originals medals, donated to the Regimental Museum appeared to have been suspiciously substituted for duplicates.
The Lady discovered the medals were not in fact the ones bequeathed to the museum after she came across one of the sets for sale on the open market.
The Lady was forced to pay £2,500 to buy back her father’s medals from a London dealer to stop them being lost forever.
The lady confronted the trustees at the museum, whose regimental Colonel-in-Chief was the Queen, but was left dismayed at what she claims was their “indifferent” response.
The museum said it was satisfied that no criminal activity had taken place and the police investigation came to nothing.
The Lady a West country resident , said: “I thought once we brought this to the attention of the museum they would want to get to the bottom of it.
“But they seem satisfied that there was no evidence of any theft and implied my father had given them fake medals in the first place.
“How dare they say that? He was so proud of his regiment so to think he would have done that is horrible.
“There has been no evidence of any break in at all so it would suggest that someone within the museum during that period is responsible. What I want to know is how much the museum knows about this and how long they have known about the fakes.”
The Lady’s husband a retired high court judge, added: “It all sounds rather suspicious in my opinion and they don’t seem to want to accept a theft has taken place. I suspect we may never find the entire truth, which is very distressing.
The medals have a similarly distinguished pedigree.
“Our internal inspection, assisted by an independent medal expert, concluded that the Curtis medal substitutions probably occurred some time ago, before 1989; the two medal groups bequeathed to the museum in 1964 and 1985 were accepted without specialist inspection, as was the practice at that time.
“It is most unlikely, therefore, that we will ever know if the medal substitutions took place before or after presentation to the collection.”
A curator of the museum, denied any criminal activity had taken place.
She said: “There is no evidence of any criminal activity or negligence in the safeguarding of the collection.”
Although police have been unable to prove any theft, they confirmed that several medals from the museum have been placed on the Art Loss Register – the world’s largest database of stolen art.
A spokesman for the Police said: “All lines of enquiry have been explored. No suspects were identified and the investigation has been filed pending any further information coming to light.