Thousands of people have joined an online search to help find a former Garrison Commander’s medals after burglars stole the awards during a break-in at the Lieutenant Colonel’s home.
Lt Col Nigel ‘Mac’ MacGregor, the former Garrison Commander of Aldershot, earned a string of medals during 40 years of service to his country in the British Army including tours of Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan plus an award for good conduct for his long service, among others.
Thieves stole eight of his medals, described as ‘irreplaceable’ but worth little in monetary value, as well as two Nepalese kukri knives that had been presented to the Lt Col by The Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment (10 QOGLR), and other awards of highly personal significance that reflect his distinguished service.
His wife Debra told Forces Radio BFBS Aldershot how she and her husband, who is known as ‘Mac’, discovered they had been burgled on their return from holiday and, to their dismay, found the medals and other personal items had been taken:
She later posted an urgent appeal on social media for information that could help return the medals – a post which has since been shared thousands of times by friends and strangers alike.
“Any medals are special to any serving soldier or ex-soldier.”
She told how Mac had joined the British Army at 15 years old and how he had earned his medals over 40 years of service.
His last day as Garrison Commander was on June 30 and he is due to leave the British Army in September.
She said the medals included a campaign service medal, awards for the Iraq first Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, Accumulative Service Medal, Queen’s Silver Jubilee, Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and his Long Service and Good Conduct which has a subsequent bar for extended time that he has been in service, plus a few other bars and a commendation.
She said: “Very special – they would be very special to anybody.”
She said the response on social media had been ‘tremendous’ with her appeal online gaining hundreds of shares, adding: “I expected a few hundred and I don’t know what the latest is but it’s way over 1100.”
Those shares have now rocketed, with thousands of people sharing the appeal and joining in the hunt for information about the missing medals.
Many hundreds of people are now sharing the appeal, with others putting their own appeals out for information that might lead to the stolen medals whereabouts. The public are being asked to keep a look out for anywhere where the medals might be up for sale, including online auction sites.
The medals are easily traceable as they are marked with the Lt Col's name, number, rank and regimental unit round the edges.
The former Garrison Commander joined the British Army in 1979 and went on to join the infantry regiment of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, now part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Debra, speaking of the public response to her appeal, said:
“It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s going up all the time and I don’t know where that will end.
“These are coming from people we’ve never heard of but are very heartfelt messages, and an awful lot of people that remember Mac from anything up to his 40 years of service.
“Some have served recently with him. Some have served an awful long time ago but remember him.”
The stolen medals are:
- Campaign Service with two bars for Northern Ireland and Kuwait with Queen Commendation for Valuable Service
- Iraq 1st Gulf War
- 2nd Gulf War Op Telic
- Afghanistan Op Herrick
- Accumulative Service
- Queen Silver Jubilee
- Queen Golden Jubilee
- Long Service Good Conduct with a bar
Other than the medals and the kukri knives, the thieves also stole a K-Bar fighting knife presented by a US Marine Corps Colonel engraved with “Lt Col Nigel MacGregor” and an Iraqi Freedom Knife which was presented to Mac while working with US Forces in Iraq.
Police said the burglary is reported to have happened in Aldershot between 6pm and 8.15pm on July 25 and that investigations are ongoing.
A spokesman added: “If you have any information that could help the police locate the burglar or Lt Col MacGregor's medals, you should call Hampshire Constabulary on 101 quoting reference 44180281993, report the information online , or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”