WATCH: The HMCS Alberni Museum has found the family of William Frank Hedger, a New Zealand serviceman who served in the Great War.
The HMCS Alberni Museum in Courtenay honours the stories of the men and women who served in the Canadian Forces from the Great War to the present day.
The museum was recently tasked with finding the owner of a service medal that was awarded to a member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces near the end of the First World War.
The medal was found by a Courtenay man when his mother died.
“They found this medal in a drawer and they had no idea how she came into possession of this medal,” said Lewis Bartholomew, executive director of HMCS Alberni Museum and Memorial. “She was born and raised in London, England and she immigrated to Canada in the 1960s.”
Edna Rutledge was 10 years old in 1919 and the serviceman who received the medal was 40, but their paths obviously crossed and she kept the medal all those years. Her family has no idea of the circumstances back then and gave the medal to the museum in hopes that it could be returned to William Frank Hedger’s Family in New Zealand.
“Approximately 20 minutes after we got the medal I was able to do an internet search of the family?s last name who lived in New Zealand,” said Bartholomew.
There were five names and the first Hedger he phoned was the grand-nephew of Mr. Hedger.
“They were absolutely amazed at the possibilities and the wonder of how this medal came into this other family’s possession and is now heading back to New Zealand,” added Bartholomew.
Nearly 100 years later the museum would like to personally repatriate the medal.
“So it?s very important to us to personally hand it to the family rather than to just simply put it in a mailbox and ship it to them,” said Bartholomew.
The museum is trying to raise money for the trip to New Zealand. You can find details at wwww.alberniproject.ca