Family asks for help finding stolen picture from WWII veteran memorial at Bonaventure

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Many families are preparing to honor loves ones on Memorial Day, specifically veterans. But Patrick Welsh of Savannah says something will be missing for his family.

That’s a ceramic picture of his great Uncle Tom Welsh which was attached to a memorial gravestone.

“It’s hurtful to our and family and disrespectful,” says Patrick Welsh. “We just want the photo back or a way of putting one back.” 

In 1943, Tom Welsh was lost at sea after his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. Patrick says he grew up hearing stories about his Great Uncle Tom. “He never got that chance to come home,” says Patrick. “He never got to meet us and we never got to meet him so all we have are stories.” 

Patrick says he often visits Uncle Tommy’s grave site at Bonaventure because a number of other family members are all buried there in the family plot.  Patrick says the ceramic picture was there just a few weeks ago, but now it’s gone.

“I could see where someone had taken a chisel or something and hammered out little sections here so they could get the picture out,” Patrick told News 3.

He says it’s hard to put into words what that picture meant. He remembers his great grandmother talking about being notified that young Tommy had been lost in the war.  

“There was a telegram that came from Western Union and she told me about that when I was around 8 years old and how devastated she was,” said Patrick.

Patrick says his great grandmother lived into her 80’s and that he and other family members often took her to visit Tommy’s memorial.

“She and my great grandfather did this back in 1943 shortly after Tommy was confirmed missing at sea and they knew he would not come home,” says Patrick. “So they erected it and it was a source of comfort for them and over the years for the entire family.”

He said it’s all the family really had to remember him by on occasions like Memorial Day.

“It’s hurtful to our and family and disrespectful and again we just want the photo back or a way of putting one back,” Patrick added.

The family is trying to locate the original photograph that was used for the ceramic but has not been able to find it yet.  That’s why Patrick is hoping someone comes forward with information.

He says O.C. Welch (no relation) has offered a $2,000 reward.

“This was a man that not only gave his life for his country, he gave his life for Savannah and this is how he’s repaid by someone stealing the only memento left of him,” said Patrick.

He estimates the ceramic picture was stolen between two and three weeks ago.

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