In June of 2014, the Nelson Mail published an article regarding an initiative by the Nelson RSA to return all of the First World War medals held in the Club’s archives, to the deceased veteran’s descendant families. Nelson RSA President Barry Pont and his Committee, motivated by a desire to honour the memory of Nelson’s First World War veterans whose war medals had been donated to the Club for safekeeping many decades earlier, made the unprecedented decision to offer the medals back to each of the veteran’s descendant families – if they could be found. Ten sets of WW1 medals are being offered to the families of the following veterans:
- Norman Andrews
- Lionel Matthews
- Percy Sargisson – claimed
- Robert Houghton – claimed
- Francis Holyoake – claimed
- Percy Nisbett
- William Sheppard
- Harold Emms – claimed
- Charles Emms – claimed
- Eleanor Child – claimed
- Medals yet to be reunited with a descendant
Following a public newspaper campaign earlier this year offering the return of these medals, six groups were successfully reunited with the veteran’s surviving descendant families. Ian Martyn, founder of Medals Reunited New Zealand ©2014, and fellow Nelson-based MRNZ researcher Brian Ramsay, are assisting the RSA to trace the remaining descendants and are confident they will find a rightful home for the unclaimed medals.
Please note: proof of descendancy is required before the medals are returned.
Medals Reunited New Zealand ©2014 congratulates the Nelson RSA President, Executive and Committee for this wonderful initiative. As interest in family war veterans and the First World War anniversaries and commemorative activities escalates over the next four years, MRNZ urges all other RSAs in New Zealand and around the Pacific to consider following Nelson RSA’s example by return these precious family taonga, and any associated ephemera, to the deceased veterans’ rightful heirs and custodians.
To read the Nelson Mail article in full, click here: http://nelsonweekly.co.nz/rsa-to-return-wwi-medals-to-families