Son spends years reassembling the legacy left by his father who served with the police in Ely, Wisbech, Sutton, Chatteris and Leverington
- Credit: Archant
A proud son has spent years reassembling his father’s legacy after his war and police medals were stolen while out on loan for a school play.
Verdun Buck, who was named after the famous First World War Battle of Verdun, which was on-going when he was born in Doddington in April 1916, won medals for gallantry and also a long service medal with the Isle of Ely police force.
He served in the Grenadier Guards in the Second World War and then later with the police as a beat bobby in areas including Ely, Wisbech, Sutton and Leverington, for which he was awarded a long service medal.
When he died in 1994 aged 76, his son Paul, 69, knew there was something missing from his father’s legacy.
Most of his war medals and his police service medal were stolen after Verdun had generously loaned them out for use in a school play.
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True to his unassuming character Verdun had shown no interest in getting replacements.
But Paul and his wife Christine, 66, of The Rampart, Haddenham, had different ideas and set about reassembling his legacy.
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This week, after years of effort, their task was finally completed when they were presented with a police long service medal by Assistant Chief Constable Nav Malik at police HQ in Huntingdon.
Paul, who served in the Royal Navy, said: “When dad died I thought we’ve got to try to get the medals back. Not for me but for the next generation, to show what his life was about, as a soldier and as a policeman.
“It’s been brilliant to get the police medal and I would like to thank Donna Stundon from the force who’s been trying to get the medal for more than a year.
“It’s the last piece of the jigsaw and it’s taken several years. But then it should take a long time because not everyone gets the long service medal.”
Presenting the medal, ACC Malik said: “It’s a real honour and privilege to be able to give you this. My dad joined as the first Asian officer in the country in the 1960s and I’m sure we are both very proud of our fathers.”
Lance Sergeant Verdun received the Military Medal for his gallantry while serving at Mount Camino in Italy in 1943. His recommendation for the honour said his “coolness, leadership and complete disregard of enemy fire were an inspiration to his platoon and to all who beheld it.”
The Military Medal was the only decoration that hadn’t been stolen but Paul, who is chairman of Haddenham Cricket Club, was determined to reunite it with the others.
The long service medal was presented by Chief Constable Thomas C Williams but it is not known exactly what year. Mr Williams was head of the force between 1957 and 1964.
Presentation of the replacement, which had to have Home Office approval, was a fitting end to Paul’s quest.
Paul, who is a father-of-two and a grandfather of four (including a grandson with a middle name of Verdun) said: “People had a lot of respect for dad. He was a village police officer for a long time and then an enquiry office clerk at Chatteris and Ely police stations. He was unflappable, I never saw him get angry.”
Paul believes his father did compulsory military service in the 1930s before becoming a police constable in Sutton.
He was on the War Reserve and was called up again on the outbreak of war in 1939. In April 1942, during a period of leave, he married Paul’s mother Katherine Mead.
After the war, Verdun re-joined the police force but had to serve a one-year probation due to his war injury: he had been shot through the shoulder during the fighting which won him the Military Medal.