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Norfolk soldier's First World War medal donated to Swaffham museum

PUBLISHED: 12:47 01 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:38 02 July 2019

The First World War Star medal given to George Ward from Swaffham. Picture: Paul Houghton

The First World War Star medal given to George Ward from Swaffham. Picture: Paul Houghton

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A medal awarded to a First World War soldier from Swaffham will be displayed at the town's museum after his family could not be tracked down.

The First World War Star medal given to George Ward from Swaffham. Picture: Paul HoughtonThe First World War Star medal given to George Ward from Swaffham. Picture: Paul Houghton

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 rediscovered it in a drawer at home last year.

In December, he launched an appeal to find descendants of Mr Ward, who was from Swaffham and fought in the Norfolk regiment.

He said: "I must have bought it at the time without realising what it was.

"When I found it I 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.

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"I didn't realise what it was until 30 years after I bought it.

"I think members of his 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 worked 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.

Records show he had a son, William Edward Ward, who was married to Sylvia Martins in 1962 before his death in 1975.

As no descendants of George have been located, Mr Houghton has decided to donate the item to Swaffham's museum on a permanent loan basis.

The museum, located on London Street, is a small and independent social history museum for Swaffham and the surrounding villages.

In 2019, the museum launched its new 'Conflict and Consequences' exhibition which looks at the effects of war and conflict on the small market town of Swaffham.

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