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Solve this medal mystery

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A military historian has joined the seven-year search for a First World War veteran’s family whose medal was discovered in a field.

A well-worn Victory Medal bearing the name of Private Thomas Davey, of the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was found by metal detector enthusiast Tim Chittock.

Mr Chittock was sweeping a field in Diss, Norfolk, when he found the medal in 2007. He and his wife, Carol, have been trying to locate a relative ever since to return it.

With the 100-year anniversary of the start of the Great War this year, the search has been taken up by historian and author Steven Fuller.

Mr Fuller has written two books about the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, which follow the men through the terrible battles and conditions in the trenches.

Based on Private Davey’s service number, 10125, he thinks it’s likely he enlisted towards the end of September 1912. After basic training, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, which was stationed at Aldershot. In 1913, it was sent to Ireland, during the unrest created by the Bill for Home Rule.

Mr Fuller said: “When war was declared, Pte Davey’s battalion was mobilised for active service and landed at Le Havre on August 16, 1914, with the first British Expeditionary Force. He was among the band of men called the ‘Old Contemptibles’, who fought against the Kaiser’s troops in 1914.”

Mr Fuller cannot say for certain which battles Pte Davey was involved in but his battalion was engaged during the early battles of the war, including Mons, Le Cateau, during the retreat to Paris, at the Marne, the Aisne, La Bassée, and the First Battle of Ypres.”

“After that,” he continued, “the battalion fought in every major engagement on the Western Front.

“They spent a few months in Italy over the winter of 1917 to 1918, before returning to France for the Spring Offensives and the final ‘100 Days’ allied offensives which led to the Armistice in November 1918.”

Against the odds, Pte Davey survived the war and was discharged from service.

He was awarded three campaign medals, collectively nicknamed a trio, or ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ after popular cartoon characters in the Daily Mirror at the time.

Mr Fuller said: “The medal found is a Victory Medal. He was also given the 1914 Star Medal, unofficially referred to as the Mons Star, which he earned by being among the first British troops to fight on the Western Front in 1914.

“Only 365,000 1914 Stars were issued, making it the least common of the campaign medals by far.”

Pte Davey’s medals were issued in the summer of 1920, and were sent to The Railway Cottages, near Brandon, Norfolk, which are still standing.

Mr Chittock found the medal near the route of the old main road between Diss and Royden.

Mrs Chittock added: “The medal is not in great condition but we have never given up trying to locate a relative.

“As it is the 100-year anniversary of the start of the war this year, we would love to be able to find his family.”

Did you know Pte Davey? Call 01234 409144 or email tracey.wye@jpress.co.uk

 

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