Police appeal after antique watch is stolen from Beamish Museum

Thomas Garnham (right) in a German prisoner of war camp
Thomas Garnham (right) in a German prisoner of war camp

An antique World War One watch has been stolen from an exhibition at Beamish Museum.

The Waltham gold pocket watch awarded to Thomas Garnham, of Sunnybrow, Willington, for rifle shooting in 1913, was taken from a war memorabilia exhibition on April 14.

The stolen watch

The stolen watch

The watch was being exhibited by Wessington University of the Thirds Age (U3A) group, who have had access to it since 2011.

Exhibitor Peter Welsh of Wessington U3A, discovered it had been stolen between 3pm and 4pm: “Hundreds of people have seen it, held it, admired it and now someone has taken it – for what? To sell? To look at? Why? Corporal Garnham’s story, like many, was remarkable," hw said.

"It is sad.”

Thomas Garnham was a miner working for the Birtley Iron Company when he joined the Territorial Army, 8th Durham Light Infantry, in March 1913.

Private Garnham was promoted to Lance Corporal in August 1914 and went to France on May 20, 1915 before almost immediately suffering a gunshot wound to his right leg.

He was taken prisoner on May 26, 1915 where he spent three years digging coal for Germany.

On March 14, 1920, he acknowledged receipt of the 1914-15 Star and in December 1921 he was given his War and Victory Medals.

On October 7, 1927, aged 31, he was hurt in a fall of stone at Harraton Pit and died a month later.

A spokeswoman for Durham Constabulary said: "his is extremely sentimental to the owner.

"It was proudly displayed to remind local people of the bravery of servicemen during World War One. The thief has caused a great deal of upset to many people.

"If anyone sees the watch being offered for sale, please call police straightaway.”

Anyone with any information should police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting incident number 110 of April 15.