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


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 trying to 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.”

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