John Seal, 98, was in his room at his house in Whyke Road, Chichester when intruders broke in and ransacked his house on Sunday night, taking his war honours.
His nephew, also named John Seal, said that fortunately his uncle was not hurt.
He said: “They found his medals in the study upstairs, it was lucky there wasn’t more damage and they didn’t come into his room.
“Obviously that’s the most important thing for us but he’s actually devastated to lose his medals.
“Looking through the house there’s not a lot of value except his medals but it’s five years of your life in the Second World War.”
Mr Seal had five medals, including an irreplaceable honour from the South African airforce for his work helping to direct Spitfire missions.
A member of the Hampshire regiment, Mr Seal was seconded to the 40th squadron of the South African airforce, working in the desert just behind the front line in the battle of El Alamein.
He was also awarded the Italy Star, the African Star, the 1939-1945 war medal and a medal for the Battle of Britain.
John said his uncle’s medals were arranged back to front to the traditional military order and his daughter Katherine had put out an appeal on social media, which had been shared more than 5,000 times.
He said: “It’s really heartening. You go from one moment of sort of disgust with the human race and the next day you’ve got massive support and it boosts your morale.”
He said his uncle ‘didn’t quite understand’ the internet but had appreciated the kindness and one of his carers volunteered to stay with him overnight on Monday for reassurance.
He added that police had been excellent in responding quickly. Witnesses should quote reference 41780089521.