World War 1 Victory Medal restored to rightful owners

A World War One Victory medal found in a field in the 1950s is to be donated to the Somerset Military Museum in Taunton after some genealogical detective work by a Bath & North East Somerset Council employee.

The Victory Medal
The Victory Medal

The medal originally belonged to Private William Wareham, of the Somerset Light Infantry, who was awarded Victory and British medals after taking part in the First World War.

It was found in a field near Green Ore by retired dentist David Boswell in the late 1950s when he and his wife Joan moved to the area. The medal has ‘Private W. Wareham 5117’ etched on the rim.

A photograph of the medal is one of the highlights of WW1 Remembered, a major exhibition opening in Bath on Friday, 1 August to mark the centenary of the start of the 1914-18 war. The exhibition commemorates those who lost their lives in the conflict and tells the stories of local people affected by the war.

The medal was restored to descendants of Private Wareham thanks to the efforts of amateur genealogist Graham Winter, who works in Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Health & Safety Team.

He was able to help trace the family of the World War One veteran after inspecting local parish records and service records for Somerset Light Infantry held in the National Archive.

Graham conducted a search of the Census returns for 1890, 1901 and 1911 before tracking down Private Wareham’s descendants via local parish marriage registers. He found that Private Wareham had married Eveline M Veasey in the first quarter of 1935.

Graham said: “At this point, I spoke to a member of the council’s staff with the surname Veasey. He confirmed that he had an Uncle Bill and Aunt Eve, with three children, John, Kathleen and Doug.
“He contacted Kathleen’s daughter and she spoke to her Uncle John about the medal. The family have since made contact with the finders and have decided that the Council can feature a photograph of the medal as part of their exhibition display.”

Following agreement with the Wareham family, David Boswell plans to donate the medal to the Somerset Military Museum, which holds the regimental archives and collections for the Somerset Light Infantry.

The ‘WW1 Remembered’ exhibition will run at Bath Central Library from August 1 – 11. It coincides with the date that war broke out in August 1914. To mark the centenary of the First World War, the exhibition will feature memorabilia from local people and stories from the conflict.
Cllr Ben Stevens, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development (Lib Dem, Widcombe), said: “We are delighted that the rightful owners of William Wareham’s Victory medal have been found and that it will be donated to the Somerset Military Museum.”
ends
The WW1 Remembered exhibition opens on Friday August 1, from 3:30pm – 5pm; then from Saturday 2 August, it will be available during the library’s regular opening times. These are: Monday 9:30am – 6pm; Tuesday – Thursday 9:30am – 7pm; Friday & Saturday 9:30am – 5pm; Sunday 1pm – 4pm.
It is a collection of memories and artefacts that brings to light some of the unique histories of local residents who served in uniform and on the home front. With no living survivors to share their stories and experiences, the exhibition will consist of materials donated by residents, archives, collections and the descendants of local people, and will include photographs, letters from the front, newspaper cuttings, audio visual material and much more.”

Bath Central Library
Bath Central Library

The exhibition will tell a range of stories relating to the period, such as letters from the front penned by William Young, who is remembered on the Royal Victoria Park War Memorial in Bath; diary entries detailing a soldier’s journey to Gosport; and memorabilia of Oliver Brooks from Paulton who received the Victoria Cross; as well as a digital portrait of Harry Patch, who lived at Combe Down near Bath, and who was longest surviving British veteran to have fought in the First World War trenches. Harry passed away in 2009 aged 111.

Bath Central Library is at 19 The Podium, Northgate St, City Centre, Bath BA1 5AL. The entrance to the library can be found by taking the escalator, stair or lift in Waitrose to the first floor.

People who are unable to attend can also see many of the artefacts on the exhibition blog which can be found at http://ww1remembered.wordpress.com

If you would like further information, contact Exhibition Organiser, Claire Sharpe, by email at WW1CentenaryBath@gmail.com or on 07730 594 345.