Heir hunters trace hero’s family after World War One medal find

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THE FAMILY of a World War One hero from Bradford have been reunited with his lost Victory Medal 100 years after he was discharged from the army.

Merseyside police and specialist heir hunters Finders International joined forces to find former soldier Francis Mitchell’s family.

The Victory medal was discovered near the Maritime Museum at Liverpool’s Albert Dock on June 6, 2016 - the 70th anniversary celebrations of the D-Day landings.

It is likely that someone had it at the Liverpool celebrations and dropped it. It was handed into the police station by a member of the public.

Emily Murphy of Merseyside Police discovered the campaign medal was originally awarded to a Francis Mitchell, who was born in Bradford in 1888.

However, her research hit a brick wall. She contacted probate genealogists and stars of the BBC’s Heir Hunters series, Finders International, to take up the search for any next of kin.

Daniel Curran of Finders International said: “It’s not every day that we get a request from the police and we were keen to help solve this mystery and return the medal to its rightful guardian.”

Within a few days Finders International had established that Francis had been a member of the Lancashire Fusiliers.

In 1916 Francis had been discharged from the army on medical grounds. He died 37 years later in 1953 and was survived by his wife and five children.

The medal has now been handed to his granddaughter Freda Powell. She said: “I remember my grandfather as I was ten when he died. He was quite a frail man because of the injuries he had sustained during the war.

“Coincidentally, my sister had also been researching our family tree at that time and we’re all thrilled that this important piece of our history has been returned to us. We are very grateful to Merseyside Police and Finders International for all their efforts in achieving this for us.” Merseyside Police records and property manager, Kate McNichol said: “We are so pleased that a chance find in Liverpool has led to such joy for a family many miles away, and hope it makes for a wonderful early Christmas present.”