Man reunited with grandfather's missing WWI medal after 30 years

Martin Riley with the medal (Photo: Mark Riley) Martin Riley said it was "very emotive" to be able to hold the medal

A World War I soldier's medal that has been missing for 30 years has been given to his grandson after he found it by chance on an online auction site.

Martin Robson Riley, 45, from near Aberystwyth, said he was amazed the Victory Medal was back in the family.

It was presented to Pte Henry Riley, who served in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, but it vanished from his home in Birmingham.

It was eventually bought by a dealer in Cornwall who placed it on eBay.

Mr Riley said it had an online starting price of 99p, but after he found it the seller gave it to him free of charge.

He made the discovery after typing "Riley, medal" into the auction site's search engine.

He had not been searching for the medal, but occasionally put his grandfather's name in search engines.

Start Quote

It is just fantastic to be reunited with at least one of the medals after so many years”

End Quote Martin Robson Riley

"Up this medal popped with his name, HW Riley and his Army number. I couldn't believe it," said Mr Riley, who works for the National Library of Wales.

"I sent a message to the seller straight away. I suppose I should have bid for it because the starting price was only 99p.

"The seller replied and said he would send me the medal because I had more right to it than anyone else. I didn't pay for it. I'm so grateful."

Mr Riley said the seller bought a job lot of medals, including his grandfather's, at an auction in Cornwall.

But how the medal ended up in Cornwall is a mystery.

Henry and Jeanie Riley on their wedding day in April 1922 Henry and Jeanie Riley on their wedding day in April 1922

His grandfather, from Bournbrook, Birmingham, died in 1927. His grandmother remarried, but she died in 1969. Her second husband then lived in the family house until his death in 1981.

When Mr Riley's father came to clear the property he discovered the Victory Medal and a British War Medal had vanished.

"It is just fantastic to be reunited with at least one of the medals after so many years, especially as we never knew what happened to them other than they just disappeared from the family home in Bournbrook," Mr Riley added.

'Very emotive'

He had hoped to find them one day, but never thought it would happen.

He said it was "very emotive" to be able to hold the medal.

Pte Riley served in the Battle of Arras in 1917 before being gassed by the Germans.

He was in hospital in Birmingham when the Armistice was signed a year later, but went back overseas as part of the army of occupation.

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