Hats off to eight-year-old as army helmet is returned to memorial

Kidderminster Shuttle: HATF OFF: Jensyn Beard, eight, returns the helmet to Burlish Camp memorial project manager Geoff Shaw. Picture: Phil Loach. HATF OFF: Jensyn Beard, eight, returns the helmet to Burlish Camp memorial project manager Geoff Shaw. Picture: Phil Loach.

A SCHOOLBOY has spoken of his delight in finding a stolen army helmet, which had been removed from a memorial plinth in Stourport.

Jensyn Beard, eight, who attends Birchen Coppice Primary School, found the American Army helmet, broken off the top of the Burlish Camp memorial earlier this month, while out walking at Burlish Top with his father. He found the item in the undergrowth and passed it to the police.

Vandals managed to prise the genuine American service helmet - which was filled with concrete and fixed to the top of the structure - causing about £200 worth of damage.

Project manager Geoff Shaw said: "We are very pleased the helmet has been retrieved as it is a genuine old used service helmet. The Wyre Forest ranger service, which carries out the maintenance on the site, will re-affix the helmet along with other work on the site."

Jensyn said he was delighted to find the helmet as he had ambitions to join the army. He said: "I will be happy to see it back in its rightful place at the memorial." He hopes to be an army chief and when he returned the helmet, Jensyn was taken to see the remains of the kitchen on the former American military campsite.

The memorial was unveiled last year as part of the £4,000 Burlish Camp Project, which was paid for using Heritage Lottery Fund grant money. The helmet specifically commemorates the 6,000 to 10,000 American troops that were based at the site, including 4,000 who arrived at the camp in 1943 as the Allies prepared for D-Day the following year.

After organisers had realised the helmet had gone missing, Mr Shaw said: "I do not think whoever has done this has done it with any thought about what they are doing, they just think it is a good idea. It must have taken considerable time and effort for them to get this helmet off."

After April, 1944 the camp was converted into a US Army hospital and then became home to American and Polish Second World War veterans. Project leaders had pushed for the memorial plinth and information boards to be installed at the site to increase awareness of Stourport's war history.

It was unveiled in February last year by Adrian and Neil Turley, authors of US Army at Camp in Bewdley and the Wyre Forest Area: 1943-1945 and has been popular since, with schools and historical groups and even visitors from the United States showing interest.

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