War pilot Graham Furley, 91, humbled by replacement RAF watch after his was taken in burglary

Stroud News and Journal: Graham Furley holding the watch presented to him. Graham Furley holding the watch presented to him.

FORMER Second World War pilot Graham Furley, 91, has been presented with a commemorative Spitfire watch to replace the one stolen during a burglary at his home on New Year's Day.


It was presented to him by London-based watchmaker Christopher Ward who read about the burglary in a national paper.


Mr Furley was asleep when burglars forced their way through a groundfloor window of his home in Birches Drive, Stroud in the early hours.


They stole a number of items including his wallet, iPhone and a commemorative Spitfire watch which was a present from his daughter, Jane, and son-in-law, Bob, honouring Mr Furley's years as a wartime RAF pilot.


Mr Ward said: "When I read about Mr Furley's RAF watch being stolen I immediately wanted to do something.


"The watch we are giving him was commissioned by the RAF to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and only 1,7940 were made."


The strap is made from Italian buffalo leather and has a deployment clasp, which keeps the watch to the wearers' wrist size and stops the strap from cracking and breaking.


The watch itself has an automatic mechanical movement from Switzerland and the watch face is true of the designs of the watches that pilots would have worn in the 1940s. It also carries the king's crest of the RAF from the 1940s.


"There aren't too many wartime pilots left and it is a real honour to give him one of our watches," said Mr Ward who started his company, Christopher Ward of London, in 2005.


"It cannot replace the sentimental value of his old Spitfire watch but it will hopefully serve as a reminder that most people in this country are extremely grateful for all that he has done for us - both in the war and through his charity work."
 

Just a few days before the burglary Mr Furley was awarded a British Empire Medal on the New Year's Honour List for years of ceaseless charity work.


Mr Ward travelled to Mr Furley's home with Squadron Leader Tara McLuskie-Cunningham and Wing Commander Erica Ferguson, from RAF Heritage, which is situated in the Royal Air Force's Headquarters Air Command in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.


Wg Cdr Ferguson said: "Meeting someone like Graham is just such a treat and an honour not just because of his war experience but because of his obvious passion for the  RAF and flying."
 

Mr Furley was almost speechless on being presented with the watch.
"It is so lovely but to be honest I am absolutely staggered by the generosity. 


"It's the first time I have ever been kissed by a squadron leader and a wing commander and I have to say I like it a lot better than saluting," said Mr Furley.

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