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Long Lost Medal Repatriated

Published: 07 Sep 2018

The South Canterbury Museum has received the long-lost medal of local veteran uncovered in a garden in Australia nearly thirty years ago.

The medal belonged to James Driscoll, who was born in 1891 at Temuka. At the outbreak of war the labourer, and keen footballer, responded to his country’s call to arms, leaving with the first contingent of men from New Zealand.

Serving with the Otago Infantry Regiment, James was wounded in the shoulder at Gallipoli in September 1915. Following his recovery, he went on to continue to serve in France, finally being discharged at the end of the war after over four years’ service.

Some time after the war James moved to Australia, and there his medals were stolen. About thirty years ago one of the medals, a 1914-1915 Star, was dug up by Ray Marler in a New South Wales garden.

The medal still bears a scar from the spade strike that found it. Years later the medal was passed on to his son.

Museum Curator of Documentary History, Tony Rippin, said that contact was made with the South Canterbury Museum through the SCRoll project, in an effort to reunite the medal with James Driscoll’s family.

“James, a life-long bachelor, had died in Australia in 1986 and research over several months, on both sides of the Tasman, sought to locate living family in order to return the medal.

“Finally, family members were found right here in Timaru and Canterbury, who have chosen to donate the medal to the South Canterbury Museum.“

SCRoll (South Canterbury Roll of Honour) is seeking to achieve an ambitious vision of developing short biographies of all South Cantabrians who served their country during World War One.

These are being compiled on a publicly accessible platform in order to support the centenary commemoration of World War One. For more information visit the South Canterbury Museum website http://museum.timaru.govt.nz

Publish Date: 07 Sep 2018