War hero’s missing watch reuni

Facebook/Chester Potts

War hero’s missing watch reunited with family after 78 years

Colonel Brad Geyser of the South African Defence Force bought the watch at a flea market in Cape Town in order to return it to its rightful owners in the UK.

War hero’s missing watch reuni

Facebook/Chester Potts

Colonel Brad Geyser was browsing a flea market in Cape Town when he found a gold watch. Flipping it over, the South African Defence Force soldier noticed it was inscribed with the words “presented to RSM O C Dipper 7th Northumberland Fusiliers 1930”.

Daventry Express reported that Col Geyser bought the timepiece and set about trying to return it to its owner, but he needed help to trace the family of Regimental Sergeant Major Dipper – the watch’s rightful owner – first.

He initially contacted the chairman of the fusiliers association in Northumberland, retired Major Chester Potts, via social media. Major Potts agreed to help and he began researching.


A request to trace his family was later published in the publication, Daventry Express. And about a week later they received a phone call from the daughter of Colonel Dipper, Dorothy Pullen. She found the story on the internet and contacted the paper.

On 24 August 2018, Dorothy attended the Regimental Headquarters at HM Tower of London to receive her father’s watch back after being lost for 78 years.

More about Oliver Charles Dipper and his long-lost watch:

Oliver Charles Dipper was originally from Northampton and had been born in 1896.

He joined the army at the age of 17 during World War I and was posted to the 18th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. He was later to serve in the 8th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers.

“During his time in the trenches with the 8th, RSM Dipper won the distinguished conduct medal – often considered a near miss for a Victoria Cross.

“On September 27, 1918, he rendered invaluable assistance to his company commander by his gallantry under heavy fire, and in assisting in directing the platoons of his company.”


Oliver survived the war reaching the rank of Company Sergeant Major at the age of 21 and stayed on in the regular army.

In 1930, he was presented with the watch recently returned to his family by the Officers and NCO’s of the Battalion on St Georges Day. 

At the outbreak of World War II, Oliver found himself with the rank of lieutenant with the 1st Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in Egypt.

His wife and family were evacuated to South Africa.

“They obviously took Oliver’s watch with them and during their stay, the watch mysteriously disappeared.

“The Northumberland’s were heavily engaged fighting the Italians and Germans in the western desert.

“His bravery and natural leadership were again recognised again when he was awarded the MBE for his actions at the battle of Tobruk. The Battalion would subsequently fight at El Alemein and help drive Rommel’s forces out of North Africa. They then fought through Italy until the end of the war.

“He would be presented with his MBE by the King at Buckingham Palace in the company of his brother George and again remained in the regular army after the war and reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

“He stayed in Minden and later Lubekke in Germany for many years before retiring from the regular army in 1968. After the death of his first wife in 1974 he remarried at the age of 82 and died in Germany in 1979 at the age of 83. He had served his country for an amazing 54 years.”