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Ring that was cut from body of dead WWI soldier stolen in Leeds burglary

Richard Collins' army notebook and photograph

Richard Collins' army notebook and photograph

The grandson of a fallen First World War soldier has spoken of his devastation after burglars stole a “priceless” ring that was cut from his grandfather’s finger.

The signet ring had been passed down through the family of Richard Collins after he died from a head wound suffered during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

It still had a gap in it from the cut that was made to remove it from his finger.

But it was snatched during a break-in at a house on Ambleside Grove in Woodlesford.

Mr Collins’ grandson, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s an antique and it’s absolutely irreplaceable.

“To me it’s priceless – no amount of money could compensate for its loss. I feel like they’ve taken part of my lineage.”

Mr Collins lived in what was the Bank area of Leeds on the south side of the city centre after his family moved to England from Ireland during the famine of the 1840s.

He was called up as a reservist in the West Yorkshire Prince of Wales Own Regiment after war broke out in 1914.

Mr Collins was transferred to an army base at Rouen, northern France, after being fatally wounded at the Somme on August 1 1916. He died within days.

The gold ring, which had a blood stone, was sent home to his widow, Emily, before being passed down to their son-in-law and then grandson.

It was stolen from his home, along with cash and other valuables, on March 11.

The 67-year-old is now appealing for its return. He said: “It’s a link to my grandfather, who I never knew. It’s a very important piece of my family history.”

PC Emma Hogarth, of Leeds District CID, said: “The family are understandably very upset at the theft of the ring given it has immense sentimental value and can never be replaced.

“It is a very distinctive item and I would like to hear from anyone who has been offered such a ring.”

Call PC Hogarth at Holbeck Police Station via 101. Should thieves who steal personal mementoes receive stiffer sentences? Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you

 

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