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Family of WWI hero reunited with 'lost' medals after they come up at auction

By Linda Stewart

Published 18/07/2016

Sergeant George Augustus Ives
Sergeant George Augustus Ives
The four medals

The family of a First World War hero who settled in Belfast thought they would never see his bravery medals again - until they turned up in the pages of the Belfast Telegraph.

Now the family of Sergeant George Augustus Ives have tracked down the medals and spent £1,200 on them at auction after learning through the article that they were due to go under the hammer.

His granddaughter Mandy McClean said nobody really knew what had happened to the decorations, including the Military Medal.

It was awarded to her father on July 16, 1918 when he was 26 for his "great gallantry" during a battle in France in which he was wounded three times before being taken prisoner.

After he was injured at Guyencourt on May 26, 1918, Sergeant Ives was captured at a first aid tent and spent six months as a prisoner of war before returning to Britain when the war ended.

He went on to serve in the Army in Jamaica, Bermuda, Malta and India, and in 1929 was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Sergeant Ives was born in Gorleston, Norfolk, in 1892 and joined the 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment in 1910, transferring to the 2nd East Lancashire Regiment in 1917.

He is mentioned in its regimental history for his bravery during the attack at Guyencourt, which says "the company took part in the heavy fighting in the battle zone".

During a break in hostilities in 1916 he married girlfriend Sarah Newell Tedford at Belmont Presbyterian Church in Belfast.

And after leaving the Army in 1931 he returned to Northern Ireland where he lived in Hillfoot Street, working as a clerk at Harland & Wolff shipbuilders. He died in 1973.

Mandy told the Belfast Telegraph that no one in the family knew who had sold the medals or when, but they discovered that they were last seen at an auction in 2008.

"We've been trying to track them down since then. We emailed the auction house and asked if anyone could pass on a message that I was interested," she said.

But her detective work was in vain - until she saw an article in the Belfast Telegraph about the four medals going under the hammer at Morton & Eden Auctioneers in London at the end of June.

Mandy registered as a telephone bidder and kept bidding until the medals were hers.

"It cost me £900 to buy them, and with the fees that is up to around £1,200. It was one of those things," she said.

"I had in my head a sum of around £700 or £800. But at the end of the day I've got them back - that is the main thing.

"It's good to get them back into the family again, especially for my mother."

The lot includes the Military Medal, a British War Medal, an Army Long Service Medal and a Good Conduct Medal.

Mandy says she was 14 when her grandfather died and she remembers him as a very inspiring gentleman.

"He was very typically ex-Army. He liked to go for walks and he could tell you absolutely anything about nature. He was a very interesting man to be with," she said.

"My only regret was that I wasn't old enough to properly appreciate all that had done; he was very brave.

"He told us about being in the trenches and it was just like they described it, singing to each other to keep their spirits up. He told me a little bit about when he was a prisoner of war - you didn't know if you were going to get out alive."

Her sister Jackie Johnston said: "I can just remember him, a very smart man, he was always well kept and had his shoes shined.

"The only story that is stuck in my memory was when he went upstairs in the house in Hillfoot Street and brought down a silver thing. It was the bullet that was dug out of his ankle when he was injured.

"He was a gentleman, one of the old breed."

Belfast Telegraph

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