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War medal theft: Geoffrey Blain from Rolvenden appeals to burglars

By Aidan Barlow

A former soldier who was captured during the Second World War has pleaded with burglars to return his stolen medals.

Geoffrey Blain, 94, was staying in a care home over the Christmas period when thieves targeted his home in Regent Street in the village of Rolvenden.

They broke in through a rear door and window and took a cluster of four of his medals, as well as three medals belonging to his father Arthur Blain, who served during the First World War.

They also took jewellery including an engagement ring which belonged to his late wife Joan, who died in 2007 just before the couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Geoffrey Blain has pleaded with thieves to return the medals

Geoffrey Blain has pleaded with thieves to return the medals

Now Mr Blain says the crime has left him frightened in his own home. He said: “I can’t express my feelings really, it has made me very sad to lose my medals.

“I’m very bitter, it’s a blow to be burgled in itself. It has made me feel very insecure living on my own.

“I get very frightened at night with the sounds and seeing suspicious people going past that I don’t know.”

He was awarded medals for his service in the Royal Artillery fighting against the Japanese. He completed his training at the north west frontier in India, before fighting in Malaya until the fall of Singapore.

A proud Geoffrey Blain displays his medals at Remembrance Sunday

A proud Geoffrey Blain displays his medals at Remembrance Sunday

Then he was taken captive by the Japanese, where he was made to do forced labour, including burying dead bodies on the island, before he was shipped to the island of Formosa.

There he had to drain swamps to extend an aerodrome and make stretchers and baskets for Japanese soldiers out of bamboo, before being sent to work in a copper mine. Many men died of malnutrition and of the harsh treatment.

Now Mr Blain has urged those who have the medals to give them back. He said: “If the person who has them realised what they mean to me and how I came to have them, with three and a half years of atrocities I had to go through there.

“Maybe whoever has them might have a conscience. I would say to them, please, let me have them back.”

Police Det Con Jo Heard with veteran Geoffrey Blain.

Police Det Con Jo Heard with veteran Geoffrey Blain.

Police say they are investigating a number of burglaries in Regent Street in Rolvenden over the last few months.

The medals to Mr Blain’s father were inscribed with the regimental number 28455, while his own Veteran’s Star was inscribed with the number 893176 GA Blain.

The thieves broke in between 4pm on Tuesday, December 27 and 8.30am on Wednesday, December 28.

Witnesses or anyone with information should contact the police on 01843 222289 and quote reference ZY/47165/16 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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