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Bracelet lost belong United States airman during Second World War is returned to family in California



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A bracelet belonging to an American airman during the Second World War has finally made its way back stateside after it was discovered by a metal detectorist nine months ago.

The United States Air Force has overseen the delivery of the bracelet – given to Richard Francis as a keepsake by his girlfriend, Marion, before he was deployed to Suffolk during the war.

Private Francis lost it while working on Eye Airfield, where it remained untouched for almost 80 years until metal detectorist Stefan Fulcher found it lying on a newly-ploughed furrow last autumn.

Stefan Fulcher (right) found the bracelet on Eye Airfield, before enlisting the help of Tom Baldwin, Jacqueline Aling, Fred Astbury (pictured left to right) to return in to Mr Francis' family. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.
Stefan Fulcher (right) found the bracelet on Eye Airfield, before enlisting the help of Tom Baldwin, Jacqueline Aling, Fred Astbury (pictured left to right) to return in to Mr Francis' family. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.

Enquiries were made to Jackie Aling, who, along with fellow members of the 490th Bomber Group Memorial Group, undertook a week of research to seek out the family of Richard and Marion, who died in 2001 and 2011, respectively.

Now, almost a year since its discovery, the bracelet has been returned to the California home of Richard and Marion’s daughter, Deborah Francis.

Mrs Aling explained how global events had continuously pushed back the delivery of the bracelet. “It occurred to us that it would be a good idea to ask the US Air Force to see if they would take it,” she said. “They said it was a brilliant idea.

The United States Air Force put the bracelet in a special display box. Picture: Contributed (57120100)
The United States Air Force put the bracelet in a special display box. Picture: Contributed (57120100)

“We took it to RAF Lakenheath and handed it to somebody, who took it home and had it on his sideboard to deal with and then, suddenly, he was deployed for six months.

“Then, when we thought we were getting nearer, Ukraine happened.

“We kept in touch with the family in the US – they understood it couldn’t be helped.”

Deborah Francis with her daughter BreeAnn Crespan, son-in-law Jon Crespan and grandchildren Dominic Crespan and Anthony Crespan. Picture: Contributed (57120097)
Deborah Francis with her daughter BreeAnn Crespan, son-in-law Jon Crespan and grandchildren Dominic Crespan and Anthony Crespan. Picture: Contributed (57120097)

Last week, the bracelet arrived at Ms Francis’ home in Santa Rosa – contained in a display box with an inscription on it that reads: “In honor [sic] of Pvt Richard M. Francis & his faithful service to the United States of America during WWII.

“In 2021, this bracelet was found by a farmer while plowing [sic] a field on what used to be the Eye Airfield. The inscription ‘Love Marion’ is etched on the back of the bracelet.”