Handguns Dad brought back from WWII German Soldiers - Stolen 1960s - Just found serial numbers

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Aug 28, 2015
Sandersville Mississippi
My dad was in Army Air Corps Europe + WWII. Back in 1945 few months after Nagasaki. Brought back two German prisoner guns. Saw them when I was very young. Originally kept at his parents home. Came home one evening upset that the guns and a German watch had been stolen. I don't remember details. He passed away at 53, too early for me to have asked him all the right questions. I just got his military stuff (pictures, letters, postcards, German medals and such) that my cousin has had for around 50 years, thinking it was his dad's Navy stuff.
Anyway, the Brand, caliber, and serial numbers of both guns are listed as his upon leaving the military. Any ideas on finding them? I don't know if he reported them stolen or not. Would have been either Pearland, League City, or South Houston area of Texas. Probably between 1958-63.
Needle in a haystack of needles.

I would really like to find them as well. They could be quite valuable as bring backs of course and it is possible that whoever ended up with them is a collector.

Too much time has passed for there to be any real hope of finding them.

I am sorry.

Sorry to hear of the loss of your father at such a young age. All my dad brought back from WWII was himself and we have always been most grateful for that!

As for his stolen guns even if they were reported stolen so many years ago, the chances of finding them now are truly astronomical.
Contact your local LE and ask what they think. The odds are very long, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Proving ownership even if they do turn up will be hard unless you have a copy of a police report from when they were stolen.

My dad was also in the Army Air Corp. Drafted in 1942 and trained as a medic he spent most of the war working in hospitals at bases where bomber crews were being trained. Most of that time near Hobbs NM. Lots of accidents and crashes during training that is rarely discussed. Dad lost a cousin in a crash during training.

In the Fall of 1944 he was sent to Paris TX for infantry training. My guess is to prepare for the expected invasion of Japan. He had just finished training when the Germans attacked at the battle of the bulge and dads unit was rushed to Europe as replacements. He got there in early January 1945. He was issued a Garand when he got off the boat in France and rode to Belgium in a railroad cattle car. Once in Belgium they took his rifle, painted a red cross on his helmet and assigned him to a field hospital. He spent the rest of the war driving a Dodge Powerwagon ambulance up to the front and bringing injured soldiers back to the hospital.

Since dad was one of the last to get to Europe he was one of the last to come home in April 1946, almost a year after the war ended. But during that time dad " acquired" a very nice Belgian made SXS shotgun that he mailed home. I still have and occasionally use the shotgun. He also had a Spanish made 32 caliber pistol along with a form signed by his commanding officer granting permission to bring it back. Unfortunately the pistol was stolen out of his duffel bag during a lunch stop on the train ride from NYC to Fort Dix where he was discharged. I still have the signed form, but never attempted to follow up. The pistol was stolen in 1946 in either NY or NJ and no report was ever filed.
Despite being a very real loss on a family and personal level , the theft of those WWII artifacts is not a major crime in the overall sense. A half century has passed ; I have to think that a statute of limitations - either actual or de facto , has long since expired.
If you have a copy of the old police report proving they were stolen, you might have a shot.
I'd love to have the Luger my dad brought back. He sold it to buy a .38 revolver for LE duty (they frowned on him carrying a Luger). This was long before I was born. He thought that since they were cheap and plentiful, he'd be able to get another one after he saved up some money. He never did. I don't think I could ever find that exact Luger even if I tried. I'll have to content myself with the pristine 98K he brought back, and the Luger I later purchased... it may not be the same gun, but it's someone's bringback from WWII, and it's very nice...
You could report them stolen. Might get an officer laughing or quite annoyed when they ask when they were stolen. You have a better chance of calling area collectors with the SN in hand and asking. You might luck out and get a collector that knows a guy who knows a guy who has it. Needle in a very large haystack, but you can at least look around some.
As a retired Texas LEO and don't want to sound callous to your problem but allow me to make a few suggestions.

Over the last 60 years that area of Texas has grown. A lot. The population has probably increased 10 million or more. Several of the smaller municipalities, under Texas's imminent domain law, merged with other cities and no longer exist. Unless you have a file or report number the chances are almost nil that any law enforcement department can help you. That area probably has a hundred or more firearm thefts reported to the various law enforcement departments every day. That's county sheriff, city police departments, county constables, city
marshal and various federal agency's. Take your pick. I'm sure that's discouraging but I would be remiss if I didn't point that out especially if you can't pinpoint time, date and year of the theft.

Google is your friend. Try and find firearm enthusiasts forums from that area. The Texas Gun Collectors Association and Texas Gun Talk come to mind but I'm sure there are others. Doesn't hurt to ask. Just be sure not to divulge to much information at first. Who know's you may get a sympathetic ear.

Not to cast dispersion's on you or your family but I have to tell you that as an LEO I probably took more theft reports than any other type. I can't tell you how many times I would get a call or follow up days or weeks later from a family member wanting to rescind the report because it was found that Uncle Joe or Cousin Johnny sold/pawned the items to pay child support, just wanted the money or something similar. Not saying that is what happened to you but the chance is there.

I have an extended family scattered over five states. There is/was a lot of family lore regarding this or that relative. It wasn't until my cousins and I got older, I'm talking about in our forties an fifties, that we were able to put 2+2 together and determine a lot of stories were just that. BS. A lot of it was eye opening.

My father carried the same 1911 through three wars. He gave it to me in 1971 when I was deployed to that cesspool in SE Asia. I left it with my new wife who lived with her parents while I was gone. When I returned it was no where to be found. I'm pretty sure it was a certain family member that walked off with it.

Anyway, good luck to you sir.
I wonder what would happen if you did locate those old pistols?

It's unlikely that documents showing possession by your father in 1945 would be enough to prove you as the legal owner 75 years later, especially if no police report was filed at the time.

Do you hope to recover the guns through the legal system as stolen property, or do you plan to try and purchase them?
How about asking the ATF to check their databases to see if they were used in a crime or reported stolen by someone else or recovered somewhere? Even if they are in the database, they are probably long gone, but might be good to know.
How about asking the ATF to check their databases to see if they were used in a crime or reported stolen by someone else or recovered somewhere? Even if they are in the database, they are probably long gone, but might be good to know.

I don't believe the ATF has such databases.
Because of my awe and historical fascination with America's armed conflicts ...I regard artifacts and firearms gathered during these periods as something rather sacred. Ergo I find your story not only sad, but tragic, as such possessions should be protected and passed to renewing generations. I would find the absolute best replacements I could, with documentation like capture papers, then pass those on to your kids with a suitable explanation. God speed...
Not to cast aspersions on your Dad, or any other family member, but other than what you were told, how do you know they were stolen?

Maybe he lost them in a crap game, or pawned them to pay off a debt, and the "they were stolen" story might have been preferable to letting his family know that he was a dumbkof.
I read of a guy whose father fought in Korea with an M1 Garand and was able to locate that exact same rifle that his dad had carried during that war. He gave it to his dad for his 80th birthday. So, its possible you could find those guns.
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