Spy hero plaque stolen

PUBLISHED: 13:00 31 May 2011 | UPDATED: 13:07 31 May 2011

(click on image for larger view)Pam and Phil Lyes, thieves have stolen a Plaque of Fank Foley, Highbridge.

(click on image for larger view)Pam and Phil Lyes, thieves have stolen a Plaque of Fank Foley, Highbridge.

Archant

A PLAQUE put up in tribute to a spy hero from Highbridge has been stolen, with angry residents labelling the theft ‘disgraceful’.

Major Frank Foley, known as the ‘British Schindler’, helped thousands of Jewish families flee Germany before World War Two.

But the bronze plaque which was unveiled in 2000 to honour the heroic MI6 agent, as well as another put up in tribute to American soldiers based in the town during wartime, has been taken.

It is feared that it may have been melted down to sell as scrap metal.

The plaque was removed from the war memorial in Southwell Gardens by thieves who apparently cut off the screws attaching it to the wall.

The second plaque was put up in the 1970s to honour American soldiers who ran a huge fuel depot in the town during the war, and which was vital to the D-Day invasion of France in 1944.

Pam Lyes, a member of the Frank Foley Committee which originally put the Foley plaque up, and who spotted that it was missing, said: “It’s really upsetting that someone has taken it, it was a really important plaque for the town.

“At the time we didn’t realise that the tribute to the American soldiers had been taken as well, so we don’t know if they were taken at the same time.”

And when asked if the committee would be raising funds towards putting another plaque, 70-year-old Mrs Lyes said: “I really don’t know, as there are just six to eight of us who work hard to make sure everything is in good shape, and in the past people have smashed things up, it’s all quite a lot of hard work.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful that someone has done this, it just shows no respect at all for what Frank Foley did.”

Foley was in Hamburg when World War One broke out, and made his way back to Highbridge from the continent by wearing a German army officer’s uniform and making the trek to neutral Holland.

After serving in the war, he became an officer in the MI6, and was based in Berlin, where he operated under the cover of being a passport control officer.

In this guise, he risked his life in saving thousands of German Jews from the Nazis, and helping them escape to Britain or Palestine. He died in 1958.

Police in Burnham and Highbridge are appealing for anyone with information on the thefts to contact them on 0845 4567000 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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