As well as holding a lot of sentimental value for their owner, relics from the past often reveal some amazing secrets about how life was in the old days.
One fascinating and common relic which is often found is the war medal. But when it comes to war medals, there aren’t many things in life which hold a more special meaning for the brave men and woman who have fought and died for our freedom over the centuries…
Mike was your average 10-year-old boy, more or less. Raised in a small town called Worcester, Mike was into riding his bike with the neighborhood kids, going on long hikes and generally getting up to the usual mischief of a ten-year-old. However, Mike’s favorite pastime by far was digging in his back garden; Something he did often. As often as he could whenever it stopped raining.
Growing up by the River Severn in the medieval town of Worcester, UK was a treat for any little boy. A place replete with quaint Cathedral houses, tombs and even cloisters, growing up in this middle-English town was like growing up in history. Mike’s family weren’t wealthy by any means, by they were comfortable and Mike had everything he needed…
Years later, as an adult, Mike found himself emigrating to Canada with his family, eventually settling in Toronto in 2004. By then, Mike had kids of his own, and a loving wife; But he never forgot what life was like back in Worcester as a kid for him, and sometimes regretted not giving his children the same upbringing, at least from an historic perspective.
Mike grew up in a much humbler abode than did his children once he moved his family to Canada. Then again, life was different back then, and his kids were far more interested in their smartphones than in digging in the garden, especially in Toronto which doesn’t quite have the relic-rich soil of Worcester back in good ole’ blighty…
Mike was bored as most ten-year-old boys one Saturday. No school, homework and household chores done, Mike wandered out to his favorite place, the back garden, armed with his trusty shovel and bucket. It wasn’t exactly a day on the beach, but it would have to do. It wasn’t raining and even the sun made an appearance through the low clouds from time to time.
Digging For Gold
Every kid fantasizes about digging for gold, or silver, or diamonds, or anything of value. All those childish aspirations to be rich and famous, a little bit like a pirate, but without the violence or Rum. On this day however, little Mike would actually get lucky and find some gold; Some real gold…
Mike may have dug in the moist earth of his back yard a bit deeper than usual that Saturday; Or perhaps he just found a lucky spot. Either way, what Mike was about to uncover was a timeless relic, and a valuable one at that, not just sentimentally speaking either.
Mike had no idea what he had just stumbled upon; A gold medal, of some description, which was heavy even if it was caked with mud and small pebbles. When he took it inside, his folks knew it was real, and valuable, but they had no idea what it was. They knew it was old, but how old?…
World War I
Europe was a mess during the first world war, which saw millions killed in a bloodbath of territorial conquest from the years 1914-1918. There were many brave men and women who fought and died for their country, and those who survived received medals of honor. Some common and some less so, but sometimes they were given gold ones.
Mike Iacovelli spoke about how the medal he found 30 years ago became a valuable family heirloom, “I recall the delight when I started to clean off the dirt and realised that this was not just another old coin for my collection,” he explained, “It has been treasured by me for many years with my intention of one day finding the rightful owners and family who it once belonged to.”
Mike always felt just a tinge of guilt about that medal. Sure it was buried in his garden but it wasn’t really his; It belonged to someone who really earned it. Mike, along with his wife Alison, decided one day not so long ago to try to find the rightful owner. And what better place to do that than Facebook?
While Mike and Alison weren’t sure exactly where to start posting on Facebook, they assumed that the Facebook group, Worcestershire Memories, was a good place to start so they posted a picture of the medal from Mike’s medal tin there. Before long the image went semi-viral on Facebook and they got some interesting responses…
As a child Mike wanted to get more information about the medal he had found. Mike recalls, “I convinced my mother to take a trip to Worcester Museum to see if I could get more information. Understandably, back in the early 80’s, with nothing much other than the use of an encyclopedia, there was not much I could find.” However, the curator told Mike that his medal was quite common, and not really anything special.
Mike did however eventually discover the truth about his medal and who it belonged to. After receiving responses on Facebook it turned out that the medal had in fact belonged to A.G. George Hammond, a gunner for the 61st Division’s ammunition column. George sadly died on June 12, 1917, aged just 24, but was survived by his wife Nellie. Thankfully the couple also had a few children before George passed away…
After much work on Facebook, Mike had somehow managed to find George’s great-great-granddaughter, a woman called Debbie Evans. When Debbie checked her inbox, she was thrilled to receive a message from Mike informing her about the medal which he had found.
Debbie was thrilled to be getting this piece of her family history back. After receiving the medal from Mike she said she plans to give it to her aunt Carol, who is the oldest family member alive to date. “I just got so emotional seeing the post on Facebook,” Debbie explained, especially as she had been looking into George’s history recently and had hit dead ends…
Although Mike’s contacting Debbie was a total coincidence, as she was already trying to find out more about her forefathers, at that time she asked her Dad Chris about grandad George but he didn’t know anything at all. She randomly tracked down a researcher from Tenerife who was able to locate and send her a picture of George.
Debbie was stunned when she first laid eyes on the grainy black and white picture of her Great-Great-Grandpa George. She said George was “the absolute spitting image of my eldest son, Lewis.” Debbie was thrilled to finally put the pieces of her family together, and thanked Mike for helping her do that…
Don’t worry, we aren’t talking about a seance here or anything like that. So happy was Debbie with the medal that, using George’s regimental number, she visited his grave, buried deep in the Arras, Northern France. Making the trip with some of her family Debbie said, “As far as we know, we’re the first family members to go and see his grave.”
Debbie and her folks were simply thrilled about the revelations that the medal find had revealed. Finally they knew something about their past. “Previously before, no one really knew anything about him (George), who he served with, when and where. We were going to get his medals replicated through the correct channels but finding the original is mind blowing.” Debbie said.