Pensioner left devastated at theft of rare Second World War vehicle in Cambridgeshire
An elderly man has been left devastated after a rare military vehicle used by his father in the Second World War was stolen.
The 1944 Willys Jeep was stolen from a car park at the Imperial War Museum, at Duxford, where it was on show at a classic vehicle event, on Sunday (July 12).
The 73-year-old owner, who does not want to be named, is now desperate to get the vehicle back due to its great sentimental value.
It was used by his father, an American Marine stationed at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, towards the end of the war.
After the war, he moved to the UK with the victim and his British-born wife, the victim’s mother, and managed to buy the vehicle for £25 and get it shipped over.
When his father died in 1957, the victim inherited the Jeep and it was immediately put into storage.
He had all but forgotten about the vehicle until two years ago when he received a call from someone saying it had been found in a shed on land the family used to own.
The engine required three days of minor tinkering before it fired into life. Perished tyres were replaced, the vehicle was restored, and recently the victim has been showing the vehicle at various events in southern England.
The victim, who lives with his wife in Surrey, said: “It is extremely upsetting to lose the Jeep because it held such fond memories of my father.
“We also recently lost our pet dog, who was nine years old, and I had planned to paint his name on the Jeep, but now I will not be able to do this.”
He said the vehicles were used in incredibly harsh, war-torn environments.
“These Jeeps were built to last no longer than a week, or one tank of fuel. Soldiers even had printed instructions on how to destroy them quickly to prevent them falling into enemy hands.”
It was the first time the victim had attended Duxford with the Jeep. Its registration is AMB644 and “20497753-S” is painted in white on the bonnet.
Detective Sergeant Andy Denzey said: “The victim is extremely upset because he has lost something that held fond memories of his brave father. A part of his life has been ripped away from him.
“I would appeal to the person who stole this vehicle to do the right thing and contact the police.
“I would also urge anyone who attended the event on Sunday and saw this vehicle being driven around, or out of Duxford airfield, to contact police.
“Someone at the event may have even photographed the vehicle with the person responsible for the theft in the driver’s seat.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 101, quoting reference number 331 of July 12, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.