Private Leslie Johnson, known on the battle field as “Dutch,” fought in the battle in Vimy Ridge, a fight that is widely regarded as a defining moment in Canadian history. It was fought in April 1917.
When it was over, he made it home, with shrapnel still lodged in his neck, and a few souvenirs in his bag, including a German revolver dating back to 1906.
His family held onto the revolver for 90 years. That was before they donated it and other souvenirs to the museum at CFB Chilliwack.
But now, the gun and one of his medals are gone after someone broke into the museum and stole them a few days ago.
‘It certainly made us feel that a part of him has been lost,” said Lois Woolly, Private Johnson’s daughter.
The theft is doubly painful because it has occurred so close to Remembrance Day, on November 11.
“It was again another shock how someone could do something like that,” said Woolly.
War veteran Jim Harris runs the museum. He says the thieves came in through a window, and used a vintage dagger on display to pry open the cases.
It seems the thieves knew exactly what they wanted from the museum. In all, they stole six guns and two medals. The stolen items are valued in the thousands of dollars. But their historical value is probably priceless.
“To have somebody come in here and violate us at this time of year is very disrespectful,” said Harris.
War veterans started the museum eight years ago to preserve local history.
It is suspected that the thieves are either collectors, or people looking for a quick buck at pawn shops
Lois Woolly has fond memories of her father. He lived the rest of his days in Chilliwack. Dutch died in 1966 at the age 70. She only hopes the thieves do the right thing and put the war items right back where they got them.
With a report by CTV British Columbia’s Renu Bakshi