A Fylde coast war veteran who served his country in some of the most hostile places on the planet today spoke of his disgust after discovering his medals have been stolen from his grandfather’s home.
Former rifleman Paul Dicks spent 10 years in the Army, going on tours of war-torn Iraq and Kosovo.
He also endured a tour in Afghanistan where he saw five of his friends killed in a single roadside bomb attack.
He suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and left the Army.
After he left the forces in 2011, he stored the irreplaceable medals he earned during his service at his grandfather’s home, on Whinfield Avenue, Fleetwood, where he thought they would be safe.
But when he went to examine the medals last month, he opened the velvet case in which they had been stored only to discover they had all been taken, leaving Mr Dicks and grandfather Albert, 78, furious.
Police say there is no obvious break-in at the property but it is believed the medals could have been taken over the course of a year by someone who had been in the house.
Mr Dicks, of Westby Grove, said: “There’s a charity do coming up at the North Euston Hotel for people with PTSD and my friend asked if I wanted to go.
“He said I should wear my medals and that got it into my head so a couple of weeks ago I went round to look for them and they had gone missing.
“I was worried – we looked high and low for them they weren’t in the house.”
He said it was not the value of the medals that concerned him but their personal significance to him.
Mr Dicks, who grew up in Northern Ireland, but moved to the port when he was 11, joined the Army after leaving Fleetwood High School.
He said: “My family was in the forces and that’s what got me interested. I grew up with that a respect for the Army and that just makes this worse.
“Whoever took the medals took them out of the case so my granddad wouldn’t know.
“After the Army I moved into my granddad’s, where all my stuff went. When I moved out I just left my medals at his house so it could have happened a while ago – they could be melted down now for all I know. It’s just a nightmare.”
Mr Dicks, who now works for a scaffolding firm, started out in the First Light Infantry before transferring to the 2nd Battalion The Rifles.
He served in Iraq in 2003, where he earned the first of his three medals.
The other two were awarded for his service in Kosovo, in 2007, and Afghanistan in 2007.
The medals were mounted together, in the order he received them.
He said: “We had a rough tour in Afghanistan.
“On July 10, five of my friends were killed in one hit and we had a lot more injured.”
Albert Dicks, 78, said: “I had them on display in one of the cabinets in my house.
“I only let people in that I know. Nobody else comes in so I don’t know who could have taken them.”
The theft of the medals has been reported to the police.
PC Maura Bunn, of Lancashire Police, said: “It is sad someone would be so callous as to steal them from him.
“The monetary value of these pieces is unknown however sentimentally they are irreplaceable having been awarded to the soldier for his bravery and efforts fighting in Iraq, Kosovo and Afganistan.
“We are looking for any information in connection with the offence and any sightings or known whereabouts of the medals. If anyone has any information we ask them to contact the police on 101.”