‘This is my greatest loss ever’: Late great-uncle’s World War One memorabilia lost on Vancouver Island

'This is my greatest loss ever': Late great-uncle's World War One memorabilia lost on Vancouver Island
Mike Aldridge/submitted
Mike Aldridge says he is hoping someone will find his great-uncles World War One memorabilia, including the Death Penny, and return it to him.

When Mike Aldridge was driving between Victoria and his home on Gabriola Island, a bag containing his late-great-uncle’s World War One memorabilia fell out without him noticing.

“I opened the door and I heard this sound and I looked around and couldn’t see anything, and I’m sure that was the bag that stuff was in,” Mike said in an interview with CHEK News. “I don’t remember exactly where it happened, but I remember everywhere I was that day, and I called all of those places and they don’t have it.”

In the bag was his great-uncle Samuel Richard Aldridge‘s “Death Penny”, two service medals, a leather photo folder, and a Bible given to him by his college when he enlisted.

A “Death Penny,” or Memorial Plaque, is a cast bronze plaque issued to the next-of-kin of British or Commonwealth service personnel whose death’s could be attributed to World War One, according to the Canadian War Museum’s website.

These were the only items Mike has left from his great-uncle.

“In the past, I hired some professional movers and they lost a box that contained all of the letters that my great-uncle Samuel wrote to my grandfather, when my grandfather was a little boy back home, meaning Alberta. And so I don’t have anything left now,” Mike said.

The bag was lost on Dec. 12, and Mike says he has filed a police report with Victoria, Saanich, Duncan, Nanaimo and Gabriola police and RCMP detachments.

He is going to be reaching out to pawn shops, antique stores and collectible stores in case someone brings them in. But he’s hoping someone will find the bag and return it to him.

“This is my greatest loss ever of something of sentimental value. I would be eternally grateful to whoever returned those to somebody who can return them to me or return them to me,” Mike said. “Those things were saved for me by people I love. I could lose almost anything but for these.”

Samuel died on April 28, 1917, when he was 20 in a consolidation battle after Vimy Ridge. Mike only knows his great-uncle from stories his grandfather told him.

“As a teenager, I went to live with my grandfather for a while,” Mike said. “Every year on April 28, he got all that stuff out and cried…it means more to me than anybody will ever know.”

The items were in a bag that was mostly black with white, blue and red made of recycled billboard vinyl. The strap was made of a seatbelt with a General Motors buckle.

Anyone who finds the items can contact the local police, or Mike at [email protected].

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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