Soldier's son keen to return medals to family of veteran

Michael Quirke with the tin of medals

Michael Quirke with the tin of medals

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Headington and Marston. Call me on (01865) 425411

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.

Send your Letter to the Editor: What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter for publication here

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

Nicola Blackwood: I'm battling a genetic mobility condition

Oxford Mail: Nicola Blackwood

8:00am Tuesday 31st March 2015

NICOLA Blackwood has revealed she has been battling with a genetic condition for years but believes it has not affected her performance as a politician.

Google Maps lets you play Pacman around the streets of Oxford

Oxford Mail:

6:56pm Tuesday 31st March 2015

Arcade game aficionados will be in heaven as Google has enabled people to play Pacman around the streets of Oxford.

Two appear in Oxford court over slavery charges following raids in Redbridge Hollow

Oxford Mail: oxford magistrates court

1:27pm Tuesday 31st March 2015

TWO people appeared at Oxford Magistrates' Court today following a series of dawn raids by police investigating slavery allegations.

Gold engagement ring stolen in Banbury burglary

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

11:22am Tuesday 31st March 2015

Burglars broke into a property in Banbury and stole jewellery including a gold engagement ring.

Food ratings: Kennington Bangladeshi restaurant gets zero star rating

Oxford Mail:

7:10am Tuesday 31st March 2015

THE manager of a Bangladeshi restaurant given a food hygiene rating of zero out of five has branded the decision unfair.

Letitia and Elliot take gold for Britain in ice skating champs as they dream of Olympics

Oxford Mail:

10:00am Tuesday 31st March 2015

A TEENAGE ice dancing couple from Oxfordshire have taken another step closer to their Olympic dream with a first European title.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree