Staff at the REME Museum have recently been approached regarding a deposit of artefacts under unusual circumstances. The Museum is now seeking to facilitate a return of these items to their rightful owner.

Can you help?

A collection of items were found in a bag purchased from a charity shop in Beeston, Nottinghamshire. These items all relate to a REME soldier, Lance Corporal Thomas William Victor Cooper and his wife. Those who had purchased the bag contacted the Museum, concerned that these items are lost and had mistakenly found their way to the charity shop. With no leads on restoring these items to an owner, the Museum acquired them with a view to adding them to the collection.

When items are offered to the Museum, they are presented to a committee that makes decisions regarding accepting new items to the collection. Following this kind deposit, the committee agreed that the Museum would acquire this collection with the intention that we would continue recent efforts to reunite them with their original owner or relative. If unsuccessful, the Museum will happily accept these items to the Museum’s permanent collection.

Black and white headshot of a soldier in uniform. He looks at the camera and has a serious expression.                     

A portrait photograph from the collection, thought to be of Lance Corporal Cooper.

The collection contains letters of sentiment, postcards and portrait photographs. Following their arrival at the Museum, members of staff have assessed the artefacts for information to help in their identification.  

From the details gathered of this collection and the Museum’s records, Lance Corporal Cooper’s REME service began in 1944. He was based at Osmaston Barracks, Derby at 1 Trade Training Centre. He was discharged in 1946 following postings to 4 Central Workshop (Donnington) and 6 Central Workshop (Greenford).

Still with their original envelopes, the letters are addressed between Lance Corporal Cooper at Osmaston Barracks and his wife in Willenhall, Staffordshire. Although the letters are not dated, they appear to have been sent during Lance Corporal Cooper’s time at Osmaston Barracks in 1944. Lance Corporal Cooper and his wife often refer to each other as ‘Vic’ and ‘Gwen’. 

 Headshot of the soldier and three other black and white postcards underneath. Two postcards show mountain scenes.

A group of postcards, mostly blank, were also found among items in the bag.

Postcards depicting scenes from Bruges and Stuttgart were also found among the collection although appear unrelated to REME service and perhaps even relate to other individuals. Most of the postcards are blank with the exception of two that appear to date from 1962 and are addressed to ‘Gisela’ and ‘Erich’. Unfortunately, both of these postcards have largely become illegible due to damage on the surface.

Do you have a connection to these individuals or know someone who might? If you have any information that may help with this enquiry, please do not hesitate to contact the REME Museum at [email protected]. If unsuccessful in reuniting these items, with the agreement of the kind depositor, the REME Museum will add these items to the permanent collection in order to preserve these artefacts. In conjunction with the Museum’s procedures, allowing a waiting time of six months for an owner to come forward, these items will be formally added to the collection in January 2022.