War veteran shocked but defiant after robbery

A World War Two veteran has spoken of how being robbed in the hallway of his Wigan home has affected him.

Friday, 20th October 2017, 12:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 4:24 am
Harry Melling

Harry Melling, 97, said he was “disturbed” by the shocking incident in which an offender pushed him to the floor and pulled his trousers down before stealing his wallet and fleeing.

However, Mr Melling, who served on submarines during the conflict between 1939 and 1945 and also spent many years as warden of a local church, also defiantly expressed his determination to bounce back from his ordeal.

Cash and cards were taken during the robbery at the address in Mitchell Street, Newtown, but nothing else in the property was even disturbed.

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Harry Melling

Mr Melling said: “It was a shock. It unsettled me for quite a period of time and it has disturbed me.

"I had been having a drink and a chat with a friend and he left. The first thing I remember after he had gone was this fellow at the door and then after that it was vague.

“I realised that lying flat on my back as I was with my pants down meant I was very vulnerable and I was very much afraid. It also embarrassed me.

“However, although I would say that I was afraid at the time I’m certainly not afraid now. I find that a bit remarkable but it has affected me.

Harry Melling

“At 97 you have supposedly seen it all but this was definitely a new thing and I have had to try to overcome it. I wouldn’t say I am brave, probably more stubborn.”

Mr Melling, who walks with the aid of a stick, said he had no clear recollection of the intruder beyond him having a blank facial expression, suggesting his shock and fright probably contributed to his struggle to recall exactly what had happened.

He also said the robber got no further than the vestibule door and left as soon as he had the wallet.

He spoke of being supported by a large family including around a dozen nieces and nephews, saying: “They are all good to me”.

Mr Melling also urged anyone who might be able to assist the police to catch the person responsible for the robbery, which happened just before 10pm on Thursday, October 12.

He said: “This fellow does really need catching. If people have any understanding of going through this sort of thing like I have done then they would do everything possible that they can to help the police.

“I feel that he will go further. If it was money he was after he will try again.”

Mr Melling also spoke of his wartime experiences but said a much greater influence on his life was his Christian faith developed through his long association with St Mark's Church in Newtown.

Police are now urgently appealing for witnesses to come forward and have described the offender as about 5ft 8in tall, of medium build and wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 7124 or 101, quoting incident number 2354 of 12/10/17, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.