Australian helps with First World War medal appeal
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A history enthusiast from Australia contacted the Beccles and Bungay Journal after reading last week’s front page appealing for help to reunite a First World War medal, found in the loft of a Bungay home, with the soldier’s family.
Debra Watkins, a former Beccles resident, read the story online and started researching on the Ancestry website.
The medal, which was found by Lizzie Samkin in the loft of the home she is renovating in Bungay, includes the words The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919, and was awarded to F Leslie of the Royal Artillery. It is known as a Victory Medal and also contains the letters BMBR and his serial number 127920.
Mrs Watkins said: “I found out his name was Frank Leslie and BMDR means Bombardier.
“I searched through the British phone books to see whether a Frank Leslie ever lived in the Bungay or the Suffolk area but it would appear not. Perhaps the medal was bought at an antique shop or was passed on to a distant relative.”
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Mrs Watkins found Mr Leslie’s name on the National Roll of the Great War. It says he joined in 1917 and was quickly drafted to Mesopotamia where he served at Basra and took part in many engagements of importance, including those at Kut-el-Amara, Hit and Baghdad. He returned home and was demobilised in March 1919, holding the General Service and Victory Medals. At the time he was living in Kennington, South East London.
Mrs Watkins also tracked down Mr Leslie’s medal card index.
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The medal was found under some fibreglass in the loft of the house in St John’s Road.
Mrs Watkins’ mother and grandfather were born in Bungay, and lived in the same house where the medal was found during the 1970s.
Mrs Watkins grew up in Beccles in the late 1960s and 70s and emigrated to Australia in 1978.
•Do you have any more information about the medal, Frank Leslie or his family? Email firstname.lastname@example.org