Search to return First World War medal to Yorkshire soldier's living descendants

A war medal found in a box of childhood possessions in New Zealand is the subject of a search to unravel its mysterious past.

The solid silver medal is dedicated to a soldier from the West Yorkshire Regiment who served in the Great War between 1914 and 1918, known only as John Newman.

It was discovered by a former foreign correspondent from Surrey, David Barber, who emigrated to New Zealand in 1963.

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Mr Barber hopes to reunite the medal, which must have a significant story to tell, with the war hero's living descendants. Having a "few" medals for service himself, he conceded, he does recognise their importance.

David Barber, aged 84, who is keen to trace the descendants of a war hero to return their relative's medal.

Mr Barber said: "Now 84 years old, it is high time that I returned John Newman’s medal to his descendants."

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Mr Barber, born in Cheam before the start of the Second World War, witnessed the Blitz, and later served two year's national service with the RAF to earn his own medals in Cyprus.

As a journalist he served as a foreign correspondent, awarded further recognition following his reporting from 50 countries and through the Vietnam War.

The British War Medal, 1914-1918. The medal is believed to have been awarded to a John Newman who served in the West Yorkshire Regiment

Mr Barber, now of Waikanae near Wellington, had been sorting through boxes when he came across the British War Medal, inscribed to 22909 J.W.Newman W.York R. Verifying further details through service records, he found the gentleman's name was John.

The West Yorkshire Regiment saw significant action in the First World War, including on the Western Front, raising 35 battalions and losing some 12,700 men.

Discovery

Mr Barber said: "I have no recollection of how I obtained the medal. I only know that I have had it in a box of childhood possessions for decades.

The British War Medal, 1914-1918. The medal is believed to have been awarded to a John Newman who served in the West Yorkshire Regiment

"I can only assume that somebody gave it to me as a souvenir when I was a child."

Do you know who the medal may have belonged to or who their descendants may be? Contact [email protected]

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