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Great War epaulettes returned to family

PUBLISHED: 09:00 29 August 2008 | UPDATED: 07:37 01 August 2010

MILITARY epaulettes dating from the first world war were reunited with their owner's granddaughter on Tuesday - four years after an appeal was launched to find the family.

By VICTORIALEGGETT

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

Military epaulettes dating from the first world war were reunited with their owner's granddaughter on Tuesday - four years after an appeal was launched to find the family.

Bob Honeywood, chairman of Bungay's Royal British Legion, was given a rusty tin containing the gold epaulettes by a member who had found them in an attic during a house clearance.

All Mr Honeywood knew was that they dated from 1914 and belonged to a man called Sir Maxwell Hendry Maxwell Anderson.

The 73-year-old set about unravelling their history but, after a year researching in Norwich library and a failed appeal for more information in the EDP, the Journal's sister paper, in 2004, the trail went cold.

Mr Honeywood, of Bungay, said: "There was no way I could take it any further. They ended up on a shelf in my garage."

Then in June this year, Mr Honeywood received a letter from Pauline Ryder - Sir Maxwell's granddaughter. She found the original EDP article while researching her family history.

Mrs Ryder, known as Polly, said: "I did a search on Google, put in his name, and suddenly up came this story. I thought 'gosh, this is terribly exciting'. I thought, 'it's been four years, should I do anything?'

"But I had nothing to lose."

This week Mrs Ryder, 54, from Chilbolton, near Winchester in Hampshire, visited Mr Honeywood with her daughter Meriol, 27, and husband Allen, 54, to collect the epaulettes. Mr Honeywood said: "It's lovely. It's nice to know they have ended up where they belong."

Sir Maxwell, who was born in Foulsham, Norfolk, joined the Royal Navy aged 13 and served in Australia, Africa, South America, China and Japan. He was Attorney General of Gibraltar, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court while living in Fiji and died in 1951 while living in Malta.

Mrs Ryder has always been interested in her family tree and has spent a long time researching her relations. She said: "I lost my mother when I was 12 so I knew nothing about my family and had no way of asking anybody."

She has her grandfather's military medals and a ceremonial sword as well as scores of information about her family and can now add the epaulettes to her collection.

But this week Mr Honeywood revealed she nearly missed out after he contacted the Royal Navy Museum at Portsmouth about donating the epaulettes to their collection.

He said: "I called the museum but luckily the person I needed wasn't there."

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