Maharaja’s musket makes its way back home to Italy from Flintshire

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A VALUABLE musket, plundered from an Italian museum during the Second World War, has been returned to its rightful home thanks to a Flintshire family.

In 1944 Sgt Stanley Parry, of Connah’s Quay, was just 20 when he saw a soldier attempting to throw the 17th-century musket overboard as his North Staffordshire
Regiment sailed to Palestine after seeing fierce fighting in Italy.

He took the musket, recently valued at £15,000, home for safe keeping, but despite repeated attempts to return it to the Stibbert Museum in Florence it remained in the family for more than 60 years.

But last month Mr Parry’s daughter, Sheila Dowell, 62, of Kelsterton Road, travelled to the museum with her sister, June Cooke, of Gwespyr, to return it.

Sheila said: “The soldier told my dad he was going to throw it overboard but my dad said ‘no’.

“He recognised the importance of it. The soldier had taken it when they were staying at the museum. I guess it was the spoils of war.

“In 1962 we all went back to Italy as a family and found the museum but they didn’t seem to understand so it didn’t go back.

“We tried a number of times to give it back but things drag on. He (Mr Parry) was really keen to get it back to its rightful place.”

Mr Parry died in 1989 and his family continued the cause.

They contacted the Italian embassy in London last year who managed to get in touch with the museum.

Sheila added: “They asked if we could take it down to the embassy and they came to see it. It turned out it was authentic and they said it was worth £15,000.

“It had been looked after. It had belonged to a Maharaja from India who had been through the Turkish wars. He came through Italy and that is how it ended up there.

“We took a trip out there to take it back. We were there for three days.”

She added: “We just didn’t realise how important it was. When we were kids we used to play cowboys and Indians with it. At the museum they were quite moved.

“It was marvellous, it completed the story. It was back where it belonged.

“Dad used to enjoy telling the story and they said that dad had saved it from being lost for ever.”

See full story in the Leader

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