FOR the last 20 years Michael Quirke has kept a box of Great War medals and badges in an old tobacco tin in his cabinet.
The 80-year-old paid the modest price of £8 for the items from a bazaar at St Mary and St John’s Church, in Cowley Road, in the early 1990s.
Now, with the nation marking 100 years since the start of the First World War, Mr Quirke wants to reunite the decorations with their original owner’s relatives.
Among the decorations is a note issuing a ‘War Badge’ to a Sergeant William Arthur Schooley of the Royal Field Artillery.
Mr Quirke, of Oxford’s Townsend Square, said he decided to take up the challenge after being inspired by his own father’s Great War experiences.
The father-of-two said: “I don’t know what it might mean to them; it might mean nothing, it might mean a lot.
“But as far as I’m concerned it would mean a lot to do it because of my own family’s link to the war.
“The family might have been hard-up and that’s why they were put up for sale.
“I don’t know why they got rid of them.
“It would be nice if relatives could be found.”
The decorations, nestled in a Skipper Brand British Navy Cut tobacco tin, are the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the Silver War Badge. The War Medal was approved in 1919 to be issued to officers and men for service given during the conflict.
Most servicemen who received the War Medal also received the Victory Medal, in a combination known as ‘Mutt and Jeff’.
Also included in the tin is a commemorative pin from the British Empire Exhibition in 1924, which promoted nations in the British Empire.
There are also badges from the Merchant Navy and Royal Field Artillery.
Silver War Badges were issued to men who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness.
They were issued to avoid civilians handing them white feathers, which were given to men not in uniform as a mark of cowardice.
Mr Quirke, a retired steel company owner, said his father, John, served in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers before being taken prisoner during the Battle of the Somme.
He said: “I have a bit of interest in the war because of my father and have read a lot about it.
“My father talked about it but I don’t remember a lot because I was young then.
“I remember him telling stories about the frost and how they had to leave wounded soldiers who froze to death in the trenches because they couldn’t move.”
Do you know anything about the medals? Call the Oxford Mail news desk on 01865 425 500.
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
Our top stories
6:00am Tuesday 9th December 2014
December is Advent Calendar time and we have a special new interactive graphic for you each and every day until Christmas Eve. I've chosen the best 24 pictures of 2014 and I'll be unveiling one a day - so what is behind's today's door?
9:00am Saturday 20th December 2014
LOOM bands are taking over the house of Skye Hall’s family as they prepare to spend their first Christmas without the brave youngster who died in August.
8:30am Saturday 20th December 2014
OXFORDSHIRE County Council leader Ian Hudspeth has backed councillors Rodney Rose and Kevin Bulmer who asked a voter to reveal his wages when he challenged them over a 19 per cent hike in their allowance.
5:24pm Saturday 20th December 2014
Two teenagers from Witney were arrested last night after a man suffered a broken arm.
2:23pm Saturday 20th December 2014
OXFAM has said it accepts criticism from charity regulators over an alleged “party political” tweet about a “perfect storm” of poverty.
7:10am Saturday 20th December 2014
A VIDEO portraying South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) bosses as Nazi military officials has emerged on YouTube.