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Family's plea as Great War medals stolen

Grandson of WWI hero distraught after treasured mementoes taken

By Cate McCurry

Published 12/04/2016

Family photos belonging to the Pelans which show the three brothers who served in the First World War
Family photos belonging to the Pelans which show the three brothers who served in the First World War
Family photos belonging to the Pelans which show the three brothers who served in the First World War
Some of the stolen medals
Some of the stolen medals

The grandson of a Belfast war hero said he is devastated after heartless thieves broke into his family home and stole a number of medals including one awarded for bravery.

John Pelan's grandfather Sapper Mcintyre Shield Pelan and his two brothers were awarded a number of accolades for their service during the First World War.

The Military Medal was presented to engineer Mcintyre Pelan and was the lower ranks' equivalent to the Military Cross.

Other honours taken during the robbery from the north Belfast home included a 1914 Star and a 1915 Star, a victory medal bearing an angel and the inscription 'the Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919' and a British War Medal bearing the head of King George, and a small service medal.

The medals were taken sometime between 9pm on Saturday and 9.30am the following day from the property in the Parkmount Road area.

John Pelan, who was given the medals by his father and was to pass them on to his nephew, said they are of great sentimental value. "They mean a lot to my family and are one of our few connections to the past and at this time it's more relevant than ever," he said. "My granddad who owned the medals passed them on to my dad to look after, and my dad gave them to me and I was going to pass them on to my nephew but now they are gone."

A death notice for Corporal William Pelan - Mcintyre's brother - states how he was killed in action just weeks after receiving his Distinguished Conduct Medal.

The newspaper notice read: "He was tireless in his endeavours to keep his gun in action, digging it out four times in one day under heavy fire. He did gallant work carrying men to the dressing station."

John and his wife were visiting family over the weekend when they discovered their home had been broken into. It is believed the medals are worth little in monetary value and will be difficult to sell because they are engraved.

John added: "The three brothers grew up near York Road and all went on to fight in World War One. One was killed in action and another one deserted. The story is that my grandfather was court martialed for shooting his commanding officer.

"He joined the war in November 1914 and wasn't discharged until May 1919. He worked as an engineer so they didn't want to let him go.

"We don't care about money, it's the family history and sentimental value and the fact that I was charged with looking after them. I wouldn't know if there was any value in them, they are just sentimental to us.

"My grandfather was old by the time we knew him and was quite ill, but I have fond memories of him. We would give a reward if they were found and would really appreciate it.

"This is the first time our home has been targeted, it's usually quiet around here. It's not nice knowing someone was through our house and we are now stepping up security around the property."

Thirty silver dollars stamped with the American Eagle and United States of America were also stolen during the burglary.

Constable Nick Williamson said: "If you have any information that would assist our investigation, or if you are offered items like this for sale, please contact police on 101."

He also appealed to anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the Parkmount Road area at that time to contact police on the non-emergency number.

Belfast Telegraph

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