First World War medal find brings joy to hero’s Norfolk family
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2013
A medal awarded to a soldier for his service during the First World War has been returned to his grandchildren following its discovery in a Norfolk field.
The 1914/1915 Star awarded to Private Thomas William Copeman was found buried six-inches underground in a field in Bergh Apton earlier this month.
Paul Nunn, of Thorpe Marriott, near Norwich, launched an appeal in the EDP in the hope of handing it over to Pte Copeman's family.
It has now been safely returned to three of his grandchildren, who never got the chance to meet him or even see his photograph.
The siblings, David Forder, aged 81 of Loddon, Mary Brookes, aged 80 of Fairfax Road, Eaton Park, Norwich, and Ann Daynes, aged 79 of Angel Road, north Norwich, are the children of the late Hilda May Copeman who was Private Copeman's only child with his second wife Martha.
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They said they were surprised but delighted to be holding a medal awarded to their grandfather almost 100 years ago.
Mr Forder said: 'I saw the bit in the paper but it didn't register. I didn't think any more about it until I got a letter through the post from the couple who found it.
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'It was a bit of a surprise but I thought about it and called them back the next day. When I rang them up my sister had already arranged a meeting.
'I wasn't even born when my grandfather died in 1924 and I have never even seen a photo of him. I can't remember my mother saying much about him but now I have been able to build up a picture of him.
'It has just come out of the blue and as the days go on it goes deeper and deeper.'
Mr Nunn, along with his wife Kirsty, launched an appeal to trace the family through the EDP, as well as posting the information on Facebook and Twitter.
Following the appeal Saul Marks, founder of Brother's Wish Genealogy Service, was able to find the names and addresses of five of Private Copeman's grandchildren, who Mr and Mrs Nunn sent letters to. Within a few days contact had been made and a meeting was arranged.
Mr Forder added: 'I didn't really know what I was going to see. I thought it was going to be a bit tatty but it looked alright.
'Whoever finishes up with it will pass it down the line to their children and grandchildren so it stays in the family.'
Mr Nunn goes metal detecting every weekend as a hobby, and said it was just a lucky find in a field he had been over time and time again.
He said: 'It was a bit of a surreal day, but it was a great feeling to reunite them with the medal. Things moved unbelievably quickly from the original post going on Twitter to us meeting with his family.
'They said they don't know what happened to the other two medals that are usually awarded with the Star so they could still be in the field. I will keep looking.
'They offered to repay us for all the work we had done but I explained to them it hadn't cost us anything and everyone was more than happy to help reunite them with the medal. They couldn't believe the lengths people had gone to.'
Mr and Mrs Nunn have also made contact with two of Private Copeman's grandchildren from his first marriage, Irene Patterson and Madge Peacock who live in Yorkshire. Their mother Olive was the youngest child from Private Copeman's first marriage, and it was while giving birth to her that his wife died.
It is still not clear how the medal came to be in the field, although one theory is that Private Copeman threw his medals away after returning home from war and grieving the loss of his two sons.