Heroes have medals stolen in raid

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THE families of two war heroes have been left devastated after medals were stolen in a heartless house raid.

A prestigious George Cross was taken by thieves from the loft of Jackie Benson’s home in Faringdon Avenue, South Shore, along with other medals and a wheel used to steer the first ship her father captained in the Merchant Navy.

Francis Faulkner, the great uncle of Mrs Benson, won the George Cross and received the commendation from the Queen at Buckingham Palace after a daring lifesaving mission in the Second World War.

Mr Faulkner, from Fairhaven, ran through incoming fire and rescued a woman from a burning pub which had been bombed by the Luftwaffe in Widnes, Merseyside.

The brass wheel, another of the family’s prized possessions, belonged to Eric Hornby, a stalwart of the Merchant Navy who was torpedoed during the Second World War.

The medals and wheel were stolen from a loft in Mrs Benson’s home.

The 52-year-old rented out the property, but she only became aware of the theft when she returned to find the loft had been broken into and ransacked.

She said: “When I got back to the home the loft hatch had been broken and screwed back into place to look like it hadn’t been opened.

“When I realised the medals were missing I felt sick and really upset because they can’t be replaced.

“I’m very angry and upset more than anything.

“I was brought up with the stories of my family’s bravery and I always knew what my dad and great uncle had done.

“The wheel is very heavy and had brass on it, so to get it down from the loft must have taken a lot of work.”

Mr Faulkner had retired from the Army at the time of his heroic deed and became one of only a handful of people to receive the George Cross since it was instituted in 1940.

Mr Faulkner’s other war medals were handed down to the family and Mrs Benson took responsibility for them when her father died.

Mrs Benson added: “The medals are irreplaceable and there’s a lot of pride about them. If they were alive today my father and uncle would both be very upset about it and so would my mother.”

Mrs Benson also lost a number of personal effects when the items were stolen from the loft and the police have launched an appeal to try to trace the items of her family’s past.

PC Caroline Hopton, of Blackpool Police, said: “We have followed up numerous inquiries in relation to the theft of these medals, but so far we have not been able to return them to their owner.”

Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

n A 42-year-old woman from St Annes has been arrested on suspicion of theft in a dwelling and has been released on bail pending further inquiries.