IN the true spirit of Anzac, a West Coast man has been united with his grandfather’s World War 1 medal, thanks to the determination of a Western Australian man.
Now aged in his 70s, Steve Philpott was surprised to learn about Private Reginald Victor Philpott’s lost British War Medal after an article was printed in the Otago Daily Times in April.
The story resonated with many people, with “numerous family members” phoning the Philpotts in Westport to tell them, his wife Judith said.
An avid genealogist, Judith had researched Pte Philpott’s history, so the couple were “very excited” to learn more about Steve’s grandfather.
They had a small box with some photos taken in Egypt of Pte Philpott, which may have been taken when he and his battalion embarked at Suez and spent several months training there before going to France.
She said when Reginald died, Steve’s dad [Victor Philpott] and Reginald’s only child, were given one small suitcase of his belongings, and they did not know what had happened to the rest.
The British War Medal was originally presented to Pte Philpott, who had been a resident of both Dunedin and Invercargill.
Evan Thomas, of Perth in Western Australia, had inherited the medal from his brother, Peter, who he believed had either found it or bought it while in Melbourne.
Mr Thomas contacted the ODT and Southland Express earlier this year to try to find descendants of Pte Philpott, to return the medal to his family.
The British War Medal was awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces for service in WW1.
Records show Reginald Victor Philpott was born on the outskirts of Invercargill in 1895.
He served with the 9th Reinforcements Otago Infantry Battalion D Company, New Zealand Expeditionary Force and the New Zealand 2nd Battalion, and spent time in Egypt and France.
He was discharged in June 1917 due to his wounds.
He eventually settled in Dunedin with his first wife, Lily Martlew, who died in 1942, and predeceased his second wife, Elizabeth, by less than a year in 1968, aged 72. Both were buried in Anderson’s Bay Cemetery in Dunedin.
After many emails and phone calls between the Philpotts and Mr Thomas, Mr Philpott received the war medal last week, by post.
But the story did not end there.
Mr Thomas said Pte Philpott was also presented a WW1 Victory medal, inscribed 8/3736 Pt R A Philpott (Mounted Rifles NZ Exp Force) and certificate, and has undertaken to try to locate them.