Man’s quest to reunite Norfolk soldier’s First World War medal with his relatives
PUBLISHED: 17:44 17 December 2018 | UPDATED: 19:30 17 December 2018
He has had it in his possession for three decades - but now wants to return it to the descendants of its original owner.
Paul Houghton, who lives in Warrington, between Manchester and Liverpool, bought George Ward’s First World War star medal at a tabletop sale around 30 years ago, and recently rediscovered the medal in a draw at home.
Mr Ward was from Swaffham and fought in the Norfolk regiment.
Mr Houghton then decided he would get in touch with the Swaffham Heritage Centre in an effort to track down any of his relatives. He said: “I must have bought it at the time without realising what it was. I found it last month and knew what it was straight away.
“I thought it was a great idea to locate any of his descendants. My great uncle fought in the First World War, if someone contacted me saying they had my great uncle’s medal I would jump at the chance.
“I didn’t realise what it was until 30 years after I bought it and I have kept it all these years. I think his members of family would be glad to see the medal.”
The medal, a 1914/15 Star, was awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who fought before the Military Service Act 1916, which introduced conscription.
Research from Sue Gattuso, manager of the Swaffham Heritage Centre, shows Mr Ward gave his trade as a fisherman when he signed up for the Norfolk Regiment in 1914. He later joined the Royal Field Artillery, lying by answering no when asked if he had ever served before, and was sent to France in November 1916.
Mrs Gattuso has already found one relative of Mr Ward but is still looking for close relatives to get in touch with. Records show he had a son, William Edward Ward, who was married to Sylvia Martins in 1962 before his death in 1975.
She said: “I have done quite a lot of research into George. The problem is we don’t know much about him post World War One.
“We are looking for close relatives to him. If we can’t find those then it will come to the museum, then the whole family can get access to it.”
Mr Houghton said that he plans to visit Swaffham to meet relatives and hand over the medal.