Lost & Found: WW1 Heirlooms
Alderman Kathleen Hill with her father’s medals. Left: The Gloucester Regiment. Alderman Hill’s father is in the front row, second from left. His brother, Ted, is front row, fourth from left. Their two other brothers are also somewhere in the picture.
TREASURED World War One family heirlooms feared stolen have been found – at the bottom of a filing cabinet.
Last month, The Herald reported that the precious items had vanished on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the conflict. Police were called in when the items – which include a six-inch knife taken from the body of a dead German officer during the Battle of the Somme – disappeared outside the Plympton branch of the Royal British Legion.
Pat Ridgeway, the RBL’s Plympton & District events organizer, was transferring items from her car to the branch building in Market Road when she realized a large envelope containing the historic items was missing. However, after weeks of frantic searching and losing hope, Pat found the envelope in her office.
She explained: “I am delighted to say that the WW1 items have been found. I am rather red faced as they had fallen into my filing cabinet. I use the cabinet as a desk top, as it is table high. They had slipped between files and were lying on the floor of the drawer.”
Pat feared that she had accidentally dropped the envelope on the street in Market Road when she was transferring things from her car into the branch office, and that someone may have picked it up. The items had been lent to the Plympton and District branch of the Royal British Legion for a special World War One exhibition. They belong to Alderman Kathleen Hill, a former Devon County Councillor for Plympton Erle, who lives in Plympton.
The treasured items belonged to her father, Fred Baker, who served in World War One together with his three brothers – Bill, Ted and Mark. All four siblings served in the Gloucester Regiment. Their sister, Francis Baker, also served in World War One as a nurse. Incredibly, all five returned alive. The treasured items which were lent to the RBL included a silver cigarette case emblazoned with the initials ‘FB’. The case was given to Fred by his father when he joined the Army.
A silver-colored Vesta matchbox containing matches, dating back to 1916, with a box containing two cut-throat razors with mother of pearl handles, and the German officer’s knife were among the items thought to be lost forever.