A First World War medal that was missing for 45 years has now been returned to the daughter of the soldier it belonged to just in time for Remembrance Day on November 11.
The story behind the missing medal is fascinating and the woman who now has it in her possession said she is thrilled to have the memento of her late father.
Liz Giuriato said her father’s medal was buried in the ground from 1965 to 1990 on the property in Hilliers she had lived in from 1960 to 1965. The home was sold in 1965 and it is anybody’s guess how Edward Albert Moore’s medal wound up buried in the ground.
When Donna West bought the acreage on Palmer Road 1990 she got a lot more than the house and land.
While clearing the property, her husband hit a small pile of what appeared to be garbage with his excavator. The blade caused the pile to be spread out across the dirt and while West was cleaning up the broken glass, lo and behold she found a First World War medal.
“At first I thought it was a bottle cap. It was covered in sand,” West stated.
The medal they had unearthed belonged to Private Edward Albert Moore but it wasn’t until October of this year that West was able to give the medal to its rightful family.
She had been dabbling in tracing her own family tree and was familiar with the Ancestry website but her search for relatives of E. A. Moore would continually hit dead ends.
For 20 years she tried to find his family.
“I would give it a poke off and on. I tried the Internet and I talk to neighbours. I would give up for a while and try again because it was on my ‘things to do list’ before I leave this Earth,” she admitted.
West said she could have easily sold the medal but that was out of the question.
West’s determination finally paid off when she happened upon the website of the Qualicum Beach Family History Society (QBFHS). She sent an e-mail to their president Joe Forsyth and within days they had traced the medal to the family who had for years been wondering whatever happened to it.
“It was a fluke that I wound up on their website and by-golly it didn’t take them long to track the family down,” declared West.
Forsyth said it just so happened that they were having a meeting and one of the new members knew that Rose Brittian who lives in Coombs had a mom who was a Moore.
“I phoned Rose and asked about her father and I thought she was going to drop the phone because Liz had just been asking Rose about their dad’s war medals,” explained Forsyth.
He said it is not the first time they have been involved in reuniting First World War memorabilia with families who have been searching for items but he said this case is definitely a head scratcher.
He said no one really knows how the medal wound up in the ground and West believes there is a companion medal still buried on the property because Moore’s Canadian Armed Forces records indicate he was given the British War and Victory medals.
Giuriato and Brittain are both grateful that West never gave up trying to find them and admitted that Forsyth was the key in putting it all together.
Giuriato said the hook for the ribbon which holds the medal is broken and obviously the ribbon is gone but she said she will get a replacement ribbon and perhaps talk to the owners of the property about letting her walk the acreage with a medal detector to find the missing Victory medal.
“My head is spinning over this. Everything has fallen into place and I am so happy to have the medal,” Giuriato admitted.
She said her father died in 1978 and it wasn’t until a few years ago that she became interested in finding out about his military service. She said she was only 21 when he died, and was too young to appreciate his contribution to the war.
Giuriato said her dad was a bachelor until he was 68 years old and he was 69 when she was born.
“Dad never married until he was 68. He married a widow who had two daughters and a year later I was born,” she explained.
“I didn’t know about the medal until a couple of years ago when we were looking through my mom’s stuff. Rose had her dad’s medals and wondered where my dad’s medals were.”
She stated that as a nurse in a seniors care home she finds that most of the veterans don’t like to talk about the war and added her dad wasn’t one to talk about the time he served in France.
She said now she is getting to know things about her dad by tracing her family history and she is learning many wonderful things about him.
“Two years ago I went to Nova Scotia and saw the home my dad was born in.”
Giuriato and Brittian admit their dad was a free spirit who really never wanted to settle down but added he was always a gentleman.
The sisters agree November 11, 2011 will have special meaning to them and to those who played a role in bringing them a little piece of their father’s history to them.