Search for Sunderland war hero’s missing D-Day medals

Bob Erskine
Bob Erskine
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A SEARCH has been launched to bring home a war veteran’s medals as the 70th anniversary of D-Day approaches.

Bob Erskine was given his Military Medal and a note from the King for his part in D-Day Plus 1 at Arromanches as a gunner.

But after the grandfather handed them, along with four other medals, over to a man who said he was writing a book about North East servicemen, they were never seen again.

Now his family hope to track them down as the anniversary of the conflict approaches, appealing to Echo readers for help in their search.

Bob was living in Arden Square, Farringdon, in the mid-90s when the man called to interview him for a book and said he needed the medal and note – penned by the King because he was ill on the day of the presentation - so they could be photographed.

Feeling foolish about how they had disappeared, he only told his family about their loss years later, when he was asked about them.

They managed to get a recasting of the award for his 80th birthday and there were copies of the documents, but they hope to track the originals down so they can be passed through the family in honour of Bob, who died in 2001 ages 86.

His grandson Damian, 30, from Shiney Row, is among the Erskines who have called dealers and museums in the hope of finding them.

A project his London design company Digital Island is working on to mark the D-Day anniversary in June sparked him to think about the medals again.

He said: “I think it’s a generational thing and he talked very little about the war because it was horrendous and he lost a lot of friends.

“He was a very kind and trusting man and would always help people out.

“He was an upstanding man and I know he was pretty well known.

“If he knew what we were doing he’d probably think we were daft and when they vanished, I think he was quite embarrassed.

“But I know he would love them to be back with the family.

“It would mean so much to know they are safe again.

“They might have been passed on by someone quite innocently, but it would be good if they could come back to us and we’d really like to hear from someone who knows where they are.

“I think these two things will be more valuable together and we’re hoping they are still together.”

Damian’s father Tony, a retired graphic designer who lives in Shiney Row, added: “For his 80th we got facsimiles of the medal for him and just to see his face was something.

“To get them back in the family, we would be really happy, and we just hope someone has them.”

Grandfather-of-six Bob was married to Marie, a teacher at St Partick’s, St Cuthbert’s and St Mary’s schools, who died four years ago aged 100.

In addition to Tony, they were parents to Pat, Maura Docherty and John, and Bob.

Following the war Bob stayed in Germany and worked in transport.

He was well known through his work for the Convent of Mercy, Oaklea, in Tunstall Road, Sunderland, and also spent a time at Ryhope and Wearmouth pits as a bricklayer and at an abattoir.

His medal and citation was made out in his full name of Robert Henry and his soldier number was 14376443.

Anyone with information can call the Echo on 501 7136 or email