A WWI medal found by police divers in a Sheffield river has today been reunited with the family of the soldier it was awarded to.
Members of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Marine Unit discovered the medal on the bed of the River Loxley in Hillsborough whilst they were carrying out operational duties on 18 October.
With a bit of help from Clifton Park Museum in Rotherham they found out that the medal belonged to Lance Corporal Stephen Smith from Sheffield who served as part of the 6th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment in WWI.
He landed in Gallipoli, in Turkey on 2 July 1915 and died of wounds he received at Suvla Bay on 9 August 1915.
Police Diver PC Roger Bennett who found the medal said:
“I initially thought it was a coin, but as soon as I realised that it was medal I was amazed. We quickly made the decision to attempt to reunite the medal with Stephen’s family, our research started within hours of us finding it. We put a couple of photos on social media and the rest is history…”
Within 24 hours, the team had messages from all over the world including several of Pte Stephen Smith’s distant relatives.
They told the team they were shocked to see his name appear on social media, they also confirmed what they already knew, that Stephen had died in action in 1915 at just 23 years old.
The team also had contact from a genealogist, who helped them identify Stephen’s closest living relative, Julian Cliff, the soldier’s great nephew.
Today Julian and 22 members of the family have been able to see the medal for the first time at a ceremony held at Clifton Park Museum.
Julian said he was thrilled to hear from the dive team:
“At first I thought it was a hoax, but once things started to fall in to place I was so grateful that Roger and the team had decided to find us. They went beyond the call of duty and they have brought a family together – most of us have never met before today.”
Roger, from the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Marine Unit said:
“We were thrilled to track down Stephen’s family and it was fantastic to learn more about his story, despite it being such a sad ending. I’m so pleased that we have been able to reunite them with such a precious and important part of their family history today.”
Karl Noble is Collections Officer at Clifton Park Museum:
“We wouldn’t usually accept a medal at random like this, but how it was found and how it has brought a family together is really special. We’re so happy to be custodians of it.”
“Pte Stephen Smith’s medal will be part of our York & Lancaster Regimental collection and the team here are already planning a special display.”
Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Cleaner, Greener Rotherham, Cllr Sarah Allen, said:
“I am delighted that the efforts to trace living relatives of Pte Smith have been successful, and very proud that the family has agreed for the medal to be presented to the York and Lancaster Regimental Museum here in Rotherham.”
Featured image credits: South Yorkshire Police
If you have a story, video or one-off blog that you would like to share with us, then you can contact our team of former emergency services & armed forces personnel either through our Facebook page, via twitter ( @ES_News_ ) or you can contact us via email: email@example.com
If you would like to write an article that you would like us to share (it can be about anything to do with the emergency services / NHS) whether you serve in the emergency services / NHS or whether you are a member of the public that has had a good experience with the emergency services, then feel free to contact our team; anonymously if you prefer.
We are proud to act as a voice for the Emergency Services & Health Service, with over 450,000 people visiting our website each month.
Before you go...
WE NEED YOUR HELP.Here at Emergency Services News, we aim to tell you stories that the mainstream media are not interested in reporting. Whilst the MSM love to berate and ridicule the emergency services, who is there to report on the realities of serving on the front line?
Emergency Services News is currently a loss-making entity. But our team of volunteers, all former emergency services personnel, do not do it for the money.
We do it because we are sick and tired of the mainstream media constantly trying to undermine the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep you and your family safe.
How many MSM journalists who speak ill of the emergency services have actually dared to don the uniform and risk their own lives to save the life of a complete stranger? If you would like to help back our mission of reporting on fact-based news, then please consider helping to support us financially.
You can support emergency services news from as little as £1. It only takes a minute. Every contribution, however big or small, is vital for our future.
Please help us to continue to highlight the life-saving work of the emergency services, NHS and armed forces by becoming a supporter.
Let us know what you think in the comments below