Ipswich memorabilia collector reunites family with British War Medal awarded to Long Melford-born soldier
After purchasing a First World War service medal on eBay, memorabilia collector Adam Simpson-York set about trying to trace the recipients’s descendants, so he could reunite them with the long-lost award.
Three weeks later, he successfully returned the British War Medal – awarded to Long Melford-born former grocer’s assistant Harry Rising – with the soldier’s great-granddaughter Sharon Field.
Adam, who works as a postman in Ipswich by day, has pursued around 30 cases like this as part of his Medals Going Home project, which he began as a hobby around Christmas last year and has since expanded in scope.
But, he said the story attached to Harry’s medal, which he gradually uncovered using the online family history service Ancestry, made it particularly stand out.
“I’ve always been interested in family trees, and I love digging around and investigating the history,” Adam told Suffolk News. “I started looking at my own family tree about 10 years ago, and having knowledge of that was what really spurred my interest.
“I use the details around the rim of the medal. One of the main things I like to look for is a medal with the soldier’s middle initial, because it helps a lot with the search.
“The great thing about this medal is the story that goes with it. Whilst using Ancestry, I found Harry’s British Army service record. In it, I found a handwritten note from Harry, describing how he was shot on the battlefield.
“He says that he was hit in the chest and the bullet went straight through and out his back. He describes moments of losing consciousness as he waited to be rescued. Amazingly, he survived.”
Adam explained he was able to build a family tree for Harry, who was born in Long Melford in 1888 and died in Bromley, Kent in 1939, with the information on the medal.
This led him to be able to trace Harry’s relatives in Whitstable, Kent.
“When I do make that connection with a family member, and see how surprised and happy they are, it’s exciting,” Adam added. “I contacted Harry’s great-granddaughter and she is delighted to be receiving the medal, to be passed on to future generations.
“I am also hoping to connect together some of Harry’s living relatives that I have contacted. Hopefully, the new distant family relations will be able to share some stories.”