WWI medals given to soldier’s great grandson

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Adam Gausel knew his great grandfather went to war, but he had no idea his medals lay unclaimed just down the road.

But thanks to the efforts of the Nelson RSA and Medals Reunited, the medals are back with their rightful owner.

The World War I medals of Albert Francis Holyoke were one set of five medals that remained unclaimed at the Nelson RSA office. Then Medals Reunited approached the RSA to see if they could step in and look for the descendants.

A few months later, Adam got a phone call asking if he’d like the medals of his great grandfather.

“I knew that he and his brother went to war but I had no idea about the medals,” says Adam. “The family link was lost a long time ago.”

RSA member Brian Ramsay then mounted the medals for Adam and handed them back to him. He says it will give Anzac Day services extra meaning. “I’ll be wearing them at Anzac Day services. I’ve been to them in the past but this obviously gives it a bit more of a special meaning. I’ve tried to find more information on him. My mother and grandmother died a long time ago so the link was lost.”

Adam has been able to find out that his great grandfather was from Sandy Bay and went to war with his brother. He was 31 when he went to war and was stationed in Egypt.

RSA district president Derek Nees says returning the medals is a great thing for the RSA to do. “This is just another example of a success story that we have within the organisation. Being able to marry medals like this back with the owner – because he is the owner now – and to see them properly mounted and being worn is great.”

Ian Martyn, of Medals Reunited, says his service is free and the joy of seeing the medals returned to the family is the reason why he does it. “It’s really great to see the person that they’re going to. We look at the serviceman’s file and extrapolate the information and glean what we can, and then search from there. So it’s really interesting and it’s great to hear the reaction from the family members, the majority are thrilled and say ‘we’d love to have them back in the family so they can be looked after’.”

Adam’s first opportunity to wear the medals in public will be this Sunday, November 8, when the Nelson RSA hosts its Remembrance Day commemorations. Remembrance Day – also known as Armistice Day – commemorates the day the armistice was signed, officially ending WWI. The service will be held at Anzac Gardens at 11am this Sunday.