Fred Greenacre’s World War One medals are now in the possession of the Group but they didn’t arrive easily. This is the story behind there arrival.
In September 2003 plans were starting to be formed for the Group’s 90th anniversary. This was to be the first major celebration we had hosted in recent history and to try and make something of it Michael Dale had put a story in the local newspapers describing how he was trying to trace the history of the Group.
The story described how he was trying to get information about the Group and in particular about George and Fred Greenacre as well as Colonel WH Ritson.
One of the people to make contact was a gentleman from Tynemouth who collected medals who said he had the First World War medals belonging to Fred. Michael went to see them and took some photos for the history he was building.
Two years later arrangements were made to borrow the medals and put them on display at our celebrations.
After the open day the medals were returned and the gentleman said that if he ever sold his collection Fred’s medals would be given to the Group but in the mean time we would be able to borrow them for any future events we held.
In 2009 contact was made again to borrow them for the 95th anniversary however gentleman seemed very surprised to hear from us saying he thought he had given them to us and that he had now sold his collection to someone “down south” and was unable to say exactly where Fred’s medals were.
For some time the story ended there however as thoughts started to turn to our centenary year Michael started to try and trace the medals again.
Over the course of a couple of years local shops and markets were checked all with no luck and once again Michael was ready to give up thinking they were lost forever.
In early January 2014 Michael was doing some research on line and found a British medal forum. With nothing to lose he decided to join it and see if anyone could offer any advice on where else to look. Photos of the medals were posted along with a message explaining the story and asking if anyone could help with the search.
Two days later a reply was posted saying the medals were in a shop in York together with a phone number.
The message wasn’t seen until after the shop had shut so the next morning (after a very broken night’s sleep) the shop was phoned. The owner confirmed the medals had been in the shop but had been sold just two days earlier!
The story was explained to Carol, the owner of the shop, who agreed to contact the new owner of the medals and see if they might be interested in loaning or selling them to the Group.
After a few weeks Michael contacted the shop again to say he hadn’t heard anything and to see if they had, but they hadn’t. In a final attempt to trace the medals Michael asked if he wrote a letter to the new owner would the shop pass it on for him, Carol agreed to do it.
A letter was written explaining Fred’s story as far as it was known and his connection to the Group. The letter asked if the new owner ever decided to sell them to keep the Group in mind.
A few days later in mid February Michael received an email from the new owner, a gentleman called Roy dresser, explaining that he had misplaced the note from the shop and that he was sure we could come to an agreement to “get the collection returned to where they belong”.
Over the course of the next few months emails were exchanged and an agreement was made for Michael to get a new group of World War One medals with some history attached to them and a straight swap would be made.
This was done and during the Easter half term holidays Michael and Nicola went to meet Roy and his wife and the exchange was made.
Fred’s medals were brought back and passed on to another Roy, a friend of Michael’s in the Royal British Legion, to mount them for wear.
A frame was made to display everything but it was made in a way that the medals themselves could be taken out and worn on Remembrance parades.
They were displayed at the hut for the second time at our 99th birthday celebrations in May 2014 thanks to a bit of determination and the help and extreme kindness of strangers.