Medals from World War I and II Found in Riverbank, Returned to Family

Two people picking up litter found a cash box along the River Loddon in Berkshire, England. They found something that usually belongs in a museum or are among a families prized possessions.

Martin Moore and Russ Hatchett discovered the cash box on 19th March.

Moore said: “We took it back to the village hall to check that there wasn’t anything interesting in there, and lo and behold, there was something interesting in there.”

When they opened the box they were astounded, they did not find cash, but some things in their own way that are even more valuable. The box was filled with medals from World Wars I and II.

Using the inscriptions on the medals, the members of Swallowfield Village Hall were able to track down the descendants of the medal recipients using an ancestry website. The medals were given for valour by two men who had made the ultimate sacrifice during two Word Wars.

The World War medals for bravery were awarded to Petty Officer Oliver Reed, who fought on the HMS Noble in 1916. This destroyer was sunk in an action involving German battleships. The medals from World War II were posthumously awarded to Mr. Reed’s son Alfred, who went down with the HMS Cornwall when it was sunk by a Japanese dive bomber in the Indian Ocean in 1942. It is truly remarkable that a father and son both died in serving their country and both were decorated war heroes.

This is what makes it all so confusing. These medals have such a great history and story that they should be kept in a museum.  Yet they were just discarded and could have been lost forever.

The elder Reed’s great-great-nephew Oliver Dunn-Hipp was “absolutely shocked” when he received the email about the medals. He added: “I was close to deleting the email because I thought it might be junk, but thankfully I didn’t. It’s unbelievable and I’m still shocked by it.”

Dunn-Hipp has no idea how the medals ended up on the river bank but he hopes to learn more. This is a mystery that he wants to solve. There are several possible theories, including theft and that they had been hidden by a thief and simply forgotten.

The medals were returned to Dunn-Hipp in a ceremony at the Swallowfield Village Hall.  All who attended were pleased to see the medals return to where they belonged- with the family of those who gave their life for their country.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE