With the recent death of the last veteran of the First World War trenches there has been a burst of media activity. This may give a temporary boost to awareness. But for most families there has been no reason to search out - or even keep - whatever remains from a long-dead relative’s war time service.
Certainly my father’s medals sat in the cardboard box they arrived in for all of 40 years. But then they were stolen in a house burglary (sorry but no spirit of forgiveness for the heartless petty thief). It was then all too apparent that they were irreplaceable. The fact that my father was not alive to suffer the loss was small consolation. [The box was addressed to - W. Townsley, 5 York Place, Shipley, West Yorks - reward for return]
It was almost a year later that I had a change of heart and decided to look for replacements. Or rather substitutes for the real thing - since finding the originals would be the only way to restore the situation. Since the police gave me little hope of finding anything it was time to start the search. I was soon surprised to find just how many war medals were being offered for sale. Some were simply copies but many were originals - and some even came with their own fragments of history.
Over a period of a few weeks I collected a significant list of names and service numbers and published the results of TownsleyFamily.org.uk. Considering how many died and how few were searching the chances of a match were close to zero. However I did have a small number of “hits” where the information was of use. The info collected is still available and I may get time to reload it, and even update it, here.