Long-lost WWI war medal returned to family

·1-min read

A First World War medal that went missing on a Melbourne beach nearly a century ago is finally back with the recipient's family.

Robert Stanley Gordon Smith lost his British Victory Medal at Chelsea beach in 1925 and died on April 23, 1963.

The medal was found at Beaumaris beach in 1980, but until now no-one had been able to find its owner, known only as Private RSG Smith from the 5th Battalion, AIF.

Victoria Police Sergeant Vaughan Atherton, also an army reservist for nine years, found out about the medal.

His detective work tracked down two living descendants of Mr Smith and the medal was returned in time for Anzac Day.

In a Victoria Police statement, Mr Smith's nephew Alan Norster said he is delighted the medal will be displayed at Upwey-Belgrave RSL museum.

It was through the Upwey-Belgrave RSL that Sgt Atherton was put onto the medal mystery.

The man who found the medal at Beaumaris was married, but later died.

His wife re-married and she and her partner are members at the Upwey-Belgrave RSL sub branch, where they met Sgt Atherton.

Through the national archives, Sgt Atherton found out Private Smith enlisted in 1915 and served in France, where he was wounded in action twice.

Last year, Sgt Atherton also reunited a family with World War II medals that were stolen more than 50 years ago.

"To be able to return these treasured items always brings me pleasure," he said.