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Hunt for owners of World War One medals

28 November 2018
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is seeking to reunite the family of a First World War naval veteran with his medal after it was left at CWGC’s Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium.

The British War Medal, 1914-18 was found by the CWGC’s gardening team at Tyne Cot after the Remembrance Ceremony on Sunday 11 November.

It is currently being kept safe by staff nearby. An appeal has been made locally but the Commission is now asking for the wider public’s help to reunite this heirloom with its owner.

The silver medal bears the face of King George V on one side and a depiction of St George on horseback with the dates 1914 – 1918 on the other.

Their value is mainly sentimental, but we know that they are cherished by the families of those who served, often passed down through the generations.

Dr Glyn Prysor

An inscription on the side shows that it was awarded to Able Seaman William Andrew Murphy. Anyone who believes they know the owner of the medal is asked to contact the Commission on [email protected]

It is believed a descendant of Able Seaman Murphy was attending the remembrance ceremony when the medal was lost.

Gerry White, senior head gardener at Tyne Cot, the largest CWGC cemetery in the world, said: “We know how much these personal mementoes mean to people and we want the public’s help in reuniting this First World War medal with its rightful owner. It is always an honour to see people bring these family heirlooms with them when they pay respect at our cemeteries and memorials and we want to make sure it’s safely returned.

“One of our gardeners found this medal when they were working and though we have made an appeal through the local police no one has yet come forward. It has the medal recipient’s name, Able Seaman William Andrew Murphy, inscribed on its edge so we are urging anyone who might know his descendants to contact CWGC.”

Dr Glyn Prysor, chief historian at CWGC, said: “These medals were awarded to millions of service personnel in recognition of their contribution to the British Empire’s war effort.

"Their value is mainly sentimental, but we know that they are cherished by the families of those who served, often passed down through the generations. Losing a medal like this must be very upsetting, so we would be delighted to reunite this medal with its rightful guardian.”

The British War Medal, 1914 – 1918 was awarded to officers and men who served with British and Empire forces during the First World War. It is thought up to 6.5 million were produced and they bear an inscription of the awardee’s service number, name, rank and regiment on its edge.

CWGC’s gardeners found the medal on the central path leading into the cemetery, close to the main entrance, on the morning of Monday 12 November, the day after the Remembrance Ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice.

Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest CWGC cemetery in the world with more than 12,000 burials. A memorial wall inside the cemetery also lists the names of nearly 35,000 British soldiers who went missing on the Western Front.

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