A Black Watch veteran’s medal surfaced for sale on the internet almost four decades after it was stolen in the aftermath of a Christmas Eve house fire.
The service medal belonging to late Fife man William Lochrie was spotted on eBay by nephew James Scott, 37 years after a thief snatched it from the remains of the family’s burnt-out Dunfermline home.
Widow Georganne Morrison said she “burst into tears” when she heard the missing heirloom would be coming home.
She added: “It would have meant so much to Wullie to get it back. It really is a Christmas miracle.”
Georganne and William had been out on Christmas Eve 1978, leaving their four children in the care of a babysitter, when their home in Lauder Crescent went up in flames. They returned to find their street filled with fire engines and their house ablaze.
The building was deemed unsafe and they were not allowed back in until several weeks later, when Georganne discovered that a cupboard in the house had been broken into and memorabilia, including her husband’s Army service medal for tours of duty with the 1st Battalion The Black Watch in Northern Ireland, had gone missing.
“We reported it stolen at the time but then never heard anything more about it, so we forgot all about it,” Georganne said.
It was almost four decades later when her nephew, James Scott, was on eBay that he noticed a medal for sale which he recognised was the same as his uncle’s missing one.
“It was being advertised by someone in Brisbane, Australia, and he got in touch with me to ask for his uncle’s Army details because he thought it might be his medal,” Georganne added.
Mrs Morrison’s son, Brian, 42, from Darlington, then took up the search, assisted by Kirkcaldy-based police officer PC Gavin Kaye.
However, the Brisbane seller was at first reluctant to provide his assistance.
“I had to do a bit of investigative work, but I eventually managed to track down the buyer who, by a weird coincidence, turned out to be from St Monans in Fife,” Mr Kaye said.
“When I explained the story to the buyer, he said he would be happy to hand it over to its rightful owner, which was really decent of him.
“I couldn’t tell Mrs Morrison right away because, with the help of the ex-services charity SSAFA, we had to confirm it was the right person, and that took a bit of time.
“But it eventually all came together, just in time for Christmas. It was great to pass on the good news.”