The Sideshow

World War I veteran’s missing medal turns up on eBay

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Martin Riley holds his grandfather's World War I Victory Medal. (BBC)

The grandson of a decorated World War I veteran had searched in vain for years for his late grandfather's missing war medals. One of them finally turned up, a Victory Medal being auctioned for less than $2 on eBay.

"I sent a message to the seller straight away. I suppose I should have bid for it because the starting price was only 99 (pence)," Martin Robson Riley, 45, told the BBC. "The seller replied and said he would send me the medal because I had more right to it than anyone else. I didn't pay for it. I'm so grateful."

Riley said several medals awarded to his grandfather, Private Henry Riley, disappeared in the years after his death in 1927. Martin Riley's father discovered the medals were missing when he went to clean out his parents' house in 1981, sometime after his mother had died.

The Victory Medal was awarded to British men and women who served in a combat theater at the conclusion of World War I.

The eBay seller told Riley that he had made a bulk purchase of war medals during an auction in Cornwall. The Victory Medal belonging to Private Riley was just one of many included in the original auction.

Riley, who works for the National Library of Wales, said he occasionally would put his grandfather's name and service number into search engines, which is how he stumbled across the eBay listing.

"Every now and then I'd join the Great War forum and type hid name into an internet search, half hoping that his medals might turn up one day," Riley told Wales Online. "With there being six million issued, I suppose I thought the odds were very slim."

And while his grandfather's British War Medal remains unaccounted for, Riley said he's just grateful to have found at least one of the missing medals.

"'We don't know if they were stolen, sold or given away, but after 30 years I cannot explain how wonderful it is to hold it," he said.

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