Wartime bracelet reunited with original owner's family after 77 years

Josie Read with the C.D.Ashfield’s ID bracelet

Josie Read with the C.D.Ashfield’s ID bracelet, which is being reunited with Mr Ashfield's family in Australia. - Credit: Josie Read

A prisoner of war bracelet, kept by a Norfolk family for seven decades, has been reunited with the relatives of its original owner - thanks to the power of the internet.

Josie Read, from Holt, first discovered the identity tag while sorting some of through her late husband, Derek's possessions.

Mr Read's father, Victor Read, of Frettenham, near Coltishall, had been consigned to a Stalag Luft in Poland in 1944.

C.D.Ashfield’s ID bracelet, which was discovered among Victor Read's WWII medals.

C.D.Ashfield’s ID bracelet, which was discovered among Victor Read's WWII medals. - Credit: Josie Read

The veteran never talked about his experiences during the war, but while sorting through some of his medals, which had been kept in the family, Mrs Read realised some of the items among the memorabilia did not belong to Victor but a man called CD Ashfield. 

With no living relatives unable to explain who CD Ashfield was and why his bracelet was among Victor's possessions, Mrs Read, with the help of her daughter Jessica, turned to the internet.

Mrs Read said: "Curiosity set in as to why we had this bracelet and why had it been kept in our family for over seventy years? 

“My immediate thought was to reunite the tag with the Ashfield family, if possible."

Victor Read (right) with two unknown soldiers in Stalag PoW camp

Victor Read (right) with two unknown soldiers in Stalag PoW camp - Credit: Supplied by the Read Family

Most Read

The family discovered Mr Ashfield, known as Doug, was a member of C Company, 2nd Parachute Battalion but this only threw up more questions as to how he and Victor, a foot patrol infantryman, had met.

Further research revealed that most survivors of the Battle of Arnhem were interned at this particular Stalag, leading the family to assume this was where the men met.

More digging then led to a blog entry from Mr Ashfield's son, Barry, who had documented his father's experiences.

The Read family sent a message to Mr Ashfield's family, based in Australia, and got a response from his grandson, Jonathon, who was equally surprised as the Reads had been to learn of the bracelet.

After exchanging a series of messages, the Reads have arranged for the bracelet to be reunited with Mr Ashfield's family.

But while the bracelet will be reunited with Mr Ashfield's relatives, how it ended up in Victor's possessions remains a mystery.

Mrs Read said: "Sadly, nobody can answer why Victor bought home Doug's tag – a mystery that will still remain 77 years later.

"But knowing both soldiers returned home after the war, and the Ashfield family is now reunited with the bracelet, is the happiest conclusion we could have hoped for.”