A medal awarded to a man who helped saved the lives of American airmen who crashed their plane in the Second World War has been stolen from a church.
The British Empire Medal was kept in a wooden box with a glass front on a wall in the church of St James in Skillington.
The theft was only reported to police in the last week but could have gone missing within the past two months.
It was awarded to villager Fred Meads, who was one of two men who went to the aid of four airmen trapped in the burning wreckage of an American bomber near Buckminster when he was working in the ironstone quarries. The men entered the burning plane, which was carrying a full load of bombs, and rescued the crew members.
Fred received the British Empire Medal for his bravery. Two other villagers received Commendations for Bravery for the help they gave.
One of Fred’s daughters, Jennifer, who lives in Waltham-on-the-Wolds, described the theft as “heartbreaking”.
Jennifer said: “When my father died, my mother decided to donate the medal to the church in Skillington. Some low life has now stolen it. It’s heartbreaking to us as a family.”
Jennifer said her father was captain of the bells at the church so it was appropriate that the medal should be displayed there. It had kept pride of place in the church for 40 years.
She added: “It’s not the monetary value of the medal because it is not worth that much, it’s the principal of the thing. It’s sad that anyone should do this.
“To our family it is worth an awful lot.
“The medal has a red ribbon, but unfortunately my father never had it engraved.”
Churchwarden Maurice Vinter looks after St James with Bill Meads, a distant relative of Fred’s. Maurice said: “It was very upsetting.
“We felt responsible to think that it had gone like that. It has really upset us.”
Anyone who knows where the medal is, or who has seen suspicious activity at the church, is asked to contact Lincolnshire Police on the non-emergency 101 number.