For police investigating the theft of about 100 military medals, including nine Victoria Crosses, it was a day of consolidation. “Nothing dramatic or newsworthy came out of our day,” said Detective Dennis O’Rourke, spokesman for Operation Valour. “It was sort of a consolidation day for our people, catching up with their paperwork, though everything else was happening too.”
Trustees of the Queen Elizabeth II Army Memorial Museum were meeting insurance assessors today to decide what assistance their insurance could provide. It has been estimated the stolen medals are worth millions of dollars. Included in the haul were the medals of World War 2 soldier Captain Charles Upham, the only fighting man to ever win two Victoria Crosses, the highest decoration for gallantry in the British Commonwealth. Capt Upham’s medals have been described as the “holy grail” by British peer and Victoria Cross collector Lord Michael Ashcroft who has put up a $200,000 reward for the return of the medals.
Lord Ashcroft has been joined by an American ex-serviceman and an unidentified New Zealand businessman in offering rewards. Police had been discussing the matter of a rewards and were assessing what impact they might have on the investigation. “We’re still waiting for a decision in relation in the offer of the reward and we would hope to have that in the next day or so,” Mr O’Rourke said today.
Museum director Colonel Raymond Seymour said it was a relief for the museum to get back to some sort of normality after the lengthy scene examination was completed by police yesterday. A tapu was lifted at the museum yesterday morning. Col Seymour said there was still plenty of history for the public to view, as well as the spot where the crime was committed. The museum had been closed since December 2 when burglars smashed their way into the museum’s Valour Section and helped themselves.
Included in the haul were nine Victoria Crosses, worth at least $500,000 each, two rare George Crosses, an Albert Medal, a Distinguished Conduct Medal and a Military Medal.
Museum curator Windsor Jones said the remaining medals, including two New Zealand Crosses and four VCs, would be stored in the museum’s safe while the area was repaired and refurbished, and decisions were made about future security arrangements.