Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

War medal found on building site

Thomas Murphy with the medal
Thomas Murphy said he hoped to hand the medal to the soldier's family

A man has unearthed a World War I medal under more than 40 tonnes of soil on a building site.

The silver British War medal was found in the village of Llanfechain near Llanfyllin, Powys where Thomas Murphy is building his house.

He is trying to trace descendants of the soldier, Charles Edwards from nearby Bwlch-y-Cibau, to hand it back.

Mr Edwards, a sapper with the Royal Engineers, died in 1919 from wounds he suffered two years earlier at Ypres.

Mr Murphy said it was a mystery why the medal had been buried in a field, where he is building his house, for 90 years.

He explained that Mr Edwards' service number was 65744, and his body was buried in Bwlch-y-Cibau churchyard.

Ypres

But Mr Murphy said he had been unable to trace his family.

"We'd moved about 40 tonnes of soil to build the house and when we got down to the last 18 inches I spotted the medal," said Mr Murphy.

"I used some rain water to wash off the soil and it looks as good as the day it was awarded to Mr Edwards.

"We'd like to hand the medal back to his family, but we haven't had much luck so far.

"We're also at a loss as to why the medal was buried in a field. The field in question was used years ago to stage village events such as a carnival, so it may have been lost then."

According to Mr Murphy's research, Mr Edwards was sent to Ireland to convalesce after he was wounded at the battle of Ypres in Belgium on 16 July, 1917.

However, he died on 10 December 1919 from his injuries, aged 38. He is buried with his wife, Ellen, who died on 12 April 1941, aged 58.



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