Community, Crime

War time memories stolen in heritage heist

Items belonging to Arthur Wooding have been stolen. Photo: Supplied.

Precious war time memories, including a soldier’s medals and postcards home have been stolen by callous thieves.

A haul of heritage items has been taken from a padlocked storage container in Ward used by trustees from Flaxbourne Heritage Museum.

Items belonging to Private Arthur Wooding were among a cache of historical items swiped.

Arthur Wooding. Photo: Supplied.
Arthur Wooding. Photo: Supplied.

Flaxbourne Heritage trustee Sally Peter says she is struggling to put into words how upsetting the theft is.

“It’s a real violation. He served for future generations of the community to be here; they’ve taken something sacred away.

“We were looking after then for the future and I can’t help but blame myself for this,” she says.

The theft is believed to have happened between 23-24 November.

Items belonging to Arthur Wooding have been stolen. Photo: Supplied.
Items belonging to Arthur Wooding have been stolen. Photo: Supplied.

A book commemorating Arthur’s first communion at St Peter’s Church in Ward on 3 February 1929, four medals, a small uniform repair kit and a pair of binoculars are among items taken.

Sally says she had been going to pick items up from the container when she discovered the padlocks had been cut open.

The museum’s ANZAC collection had been near the doors as it is used every year to commemorate the special day.

“I don’t think they knew what they were looking for and think maybe they got a fright and ran off as there was heavy stuff left outside.

“The ANZAC boxes were close to the door as I use them every year for a display at Ward Hall.

Items belonging to Arthur Wooding have been stolen. Photo: Supplied.
Items belonging to Arthur Wooding have been stolen. Photo: Supplied.

“I feel I could have done better,” she says.

The Flaxbourne Museum collection has been stored in two shipping containers in Ward following the magnitude 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2016.

Other items, not part of the Wooding Collection, were also stolen, including an intricately engraved cornet, once part of the popular Ward Band.

A lantern off the shipwreck Wakatu was taken in the break in and an old inkwell from Ward School.

Items belonging to Arthur Wooding have been stolen. Photo: Supplied.
Items belonging to Arthur Wooding have been stolen. Photo: Supplied.

Sally says telling Arthur’s family about the theft was “awful.”

“This was a box containing precious memories from a man’s time away fighting for our country, including his medals, photos, postcards, his sewing kit for quick mends, his binoculars, buttons, badges and other things pertaining to his years spent away.

“How low can you get and how dare someone violate this privacy and his memory.”

Police are investigating the theft and anyone with any information can contact police via 105.

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