They may never know who took them, but staff at Wickenby Museum are “ecstatic” after stolen plaques turned up literally on the doorstep.
Two wartime bronze plaques stolen from the Icarus Memorial at Wickenby Airfield last month have been found safe and returned.
The squadron plaques remember those from 12 and 626 squadron who died in the Second World War.
They turned up at the Dambusters Inn in Scampton, a pub sited 200m away from RAF Scampton, and named after the 633 Squadron that took part in the famous 1943 Dambusters Raid.
Their return followed appeals on social media by pub landlord Greg Algar, a collector of wartime memorabilia himself.
He contacted the country’s collecting community and called for their return, no questions asked.
Greg said he found the plaques outside the pub on Monday morning, April 13, as he collected glasses outside.
“We have a raised standing area. The plaques were tucked away on it but they were certainly put their to be found,” he said.
Apart from a broken bracket, the plaques have been returned undamaged.
As well as making his appeals to wartime memorabilia collectors, Greg also “put the word around the pub,” which is famous for its wartime heritage.
He doesn’t know who returned the plaques.
“It doesn’t matter who returned them. It’s their safe return,” he said.
“I thank the wider community for getting them back.”
Wickenby Museum curator Anne Law thanked Greg for making his appeals through various forums.
Last month, she branded the thieves “despicable, disgusting and disrespectful”, but it was all smiles yesterday.
“We didn’t expect to get them back after four weeks or longer. I’m absolutely ecstatic, just really pleased they are back,” Anne said.
Since the theft in early March, the Wickenby Museum has been “worried” about the sculpture on the front of the memorial, which contained the plaques.
It has been removed for safekeeping and the plan is to mount it in the control tower, where it will be safe and can be seen by visitors.
It would be sited above the fireplace in the downstairs of the control tower at Wickenby Aerodrome.
The museum is looking at the cost of buying replicas to be placed outside.
Anne doesn’t know when this might happen as a decision to purchase as yet to be made.
It was also too early to tell if their might be a special commemoration ceremony to mark the new plaques.
But the museum will be staging a memorial service on September 6 at 3pm.