Hope for re­turn of hero’s medals

Fam­ily finds grand­fa­ther’s stolen WW1 medals in an auc­tion cat­a­logue — 20 years later

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOSH JACKMAN

THE FAM­ILY of a First World War hero were dis­traught when his Mil­i­tary Cross and other medals were stolen in a house bur­glary al­most 20 years ago.

Now they are hope­ful of se­cur­ing the medals’ re­turn fol­low­ing a chance dis­cov­ery that they had been sold by an auc­tion house.

Cap­tain Solo­man Davis served in the fourth bat­tal­ion of the Lon­don reg­i­ment. The in­scrip­tion for his Mil­i­tary Cross states that “though se­verely wounded dur­ing an enemy counter-at­tack, he re­mained in com­mand of his com­pany, and it was largely owing to his courage and fine ex­am­ple that the po­si­tion was held and con­sol­i­dated”.

In­spired by their fa­ther’s deeds, his three sons en­listed in the Navy and RAF dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, two of them re­ceiv­ing medals of their own. Solo­man Davis died shortly af­ter the Sec­ond World War.

Cap­tain Davis’s medals were stolen from the fam­ily home in north Lon­don in 1996.

But it was only re­cently his grand­son, Stephen Davis, found them on an auc­tion site while re­search­ing his mil­i­tary ca­reer be­fore his daugh­ter’s school trip to the First World War bat­tle­fields. “I thought it would be nice if she had some­thing to con­nect to and I knew the story of my grand­fa­ther, but couldn’t re­mem­ber who got which medal. So I looked on the in­ter­net and then I saw his medals. I was shocked.” It tran­spired that Lock­dales auc­tion house in Ip­swich had sold the medals for £1,400 in March last year to a 72-year-old man.

The fam­ily have called in the po­lice, who are tr ying t o con­tact the buyer. How­ever, a po­lice spokes­woman said that un­less the buyer “knew or be­lieved the items to be stolen”, it would be a civil mat­ter.

Sue Pack­man, the grand­daugh­ter of Cap­tain Davis, said she wanted to talk to the pur­chaser to ap­peal for the re­turn of the trea­sured items. If nec­es­sary, the fam­ily would pursue a civil case.

“It’s amaz­ing that the medals have come back into our lives. The po­lice have fol­lowed it through, so we’d be silly not to as well.”

She had pre­vi­ously given up hope of their re­cov­ery. “It was so long — too long. I thought they were gone for­ever.”

Stephen Davis added: “It’s an im­por­tant fam­ily heir­loom. None of us knew our grand­fa­ther. It may sound triv­ial, but we would like to con­nect with a man who we’ve all heard sto­ries about, a great man about whom my fa­ther and his broth­ers all used to speak very highly.

“He was a man of ac­tion and a man of in­tegrity, as demon­strated by the fact that he won a Mil­i­tary Cross.”

A younger fam­ily mem­ber, Oliver Davis, 21, will wear repli­cas of the medals at Sun­day’s Ajex pa­rade in White­hall, which he will at­tend as part of the JLGB con­tin­gent.

He said of his great-grand­fa­ther: “He won the Mil­i­tary Cross, which was an amaz­ing achieve­ment and one that in­spired me to do things I wouldn’t have done oth­er­wise.”

PHOTO: ANDY TYLER

On dis­play: a page from the auc­tion cat­a­logue. Great-grand­son Oliver ( top right) will wear repli­cas of the medals at Sun­day’s Ajex pa­rade

Solo­man Davis ( third from left), whose sons were in­spired by his deeds

Wed­ding day: Solo­man Davis and his wife, Iris

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