Long lost WW1 medal found by metal detectorist handed to grandchildren
- Credit: Brittany Woodman
The grandchildren of a Norfolk soldier have been united with his long lost First World War medal after it was unearthed in a field by a metal detectorist.
Fiona Day and Richard Heighton said it was a special moment to be handed the war-time honour belonging to Harold Frederick Mutimer, who served with the Royal Fusiliers and the Royal Norfolk Regiment.
History enthusiast Matt Arthurton discovered the 1914 Mons star medal, awarded for service in France or Belgium, in a riverside pasture on the outskirts of Norwich.
Despite it being slightly damaged, Mr Arthurton set about trying to find the descendants of the brave man the honour had been awarded to.
He found Mr Mutimer was born in 1895 in Swainsthorpe and died in Norwich in 1936.
He served in the 18th Battalion Royal Fusiliers and the 9th Battalion Norfolk Regiment and may have fought at the Somme.
Mr Arthurton's appeals for information led to the discovery of surviving family members and he was able to hand over the piece to Mr Mutimer’s grandchildren at the spot where it was found.
“It’s amazing that Matt managed to decode what was one the medal and realise it belonged to my grandfather,” said Mr Heighton, who lives near Downham Market.
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The family said regaining the medal is particularly poignant because his other medals were stolen in a burglary 30 years ago.
The siblings never knew their grandfather, who married Beatrice Gibson, as he died when their mother, Bridget Mutimer, was aged just one.
Ms Day said: “It has really made us revisit some of our family history and find out more about that side of the family which is probably the bit we know least about.”
The medal was unearthed on land near Drayton near to a site where their grandfather ran Taverham market garden nurseries after the war.
“We knew he had had greenhouses near Drayton at one time,” said Ms Day. “He came from a farming family from Pulham and had siblings, Charlie and Iris.”
Mr Heighton said the family story was that his grandfather died as a consequence of having contracted pneumonia after being gassed in the First World War.
“Our grandmother always said that he died from the war but it was almost 20 years later that he actually died,” he added.
Mr Arthurton, who lives in Lakenham and who only took up metal detecting a year ago, said: “I’m really pleased. It’s right that his medal is now back with his grandchildren.”