5 November 2009

Oliver Pugh

Thieves have stolen hundreds of pounds that was destined for our injured war heroes – right from under the nose of Sir Winston Churchill.

The shameful theft allegedly took place on Saturday afternoon, as two men distracted staff at a war museum while they pilfered the charity money.

Winston Churchill’s Britain at War Experience, on Tooley Street, had even nailed the poppy box down, but the pair still managed to prize it free.

Manager John Welsh said: “With people dying now in the ongoing situations in Afghanistan and Iraq I think it is terrible that this type of thing is going on.”

The museum estimates that the light-fingered pair made off with more than £200, as children visiting the museum over half term had managed to fill the pot and staff were ready to ask for an empty replacement.

A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said this kind of theft was very rare.
“It’s such a shame,” he said. “I am sure Sir Winston Churchill would be turning in his grave.”

But museum founder Don Robinson has already stumped up £100 of his own money, to get the new collection kick started.

The two men went into the museum at around 3.45pm on Saturday October 31 and asked for directions to the ‘travel information’. Museum cashier Tracy Gordon, 26, from Rotherhithe, said she thought the pair were drunks.

“The smell [of alcohol] was that bad it turned my stomach right the way over,” she said.
As Tracy directed them to London Bridge, she said: “Something just didn’t feel right.” So as the two started to leave she went round to follow them and noticed the poppy box had been taken.

The two men are described as white, wearing jeans, unshaven and unwashed. One was around 5’8″, wearing a black jacket, with brown fair hair, and the other was shorter with short black hair.
Southwark Police have confirmed to the ‘News’ they are now investigating the incident.

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