WW1 medal found in a Norfolk field by a metal detectorist is handed to soldier’s grandchildren

WW1 medal found in a Norfolk field by a metal detectorist is handed to soldier’s grandchildren

A metal detectorist who found a long lost World War One medal in a Norfolk field has reunited it with the soldier’s grandchildren.

Lorry driver Matt Arthurton, 50, found the 1914 Mons Star medal while detecting in a riverside meadow at Drayton near Norwich.

He managed to find out that it had been awarded to Harold Frederick Mutimer, who served in the Royal Fusiliers and the Royal Norfolk Regiment during the war.

Mr Arthurton of Lakenham, Norwich, has now handed the medal over to Mr Mutimer’s grandchildren, Fiona Day and Richard Heighton.

The siblings told him how their aunt Iris had recalled that Harold always kept the medal in his pocket after the war and had been devastated after losing it before he died in 1936.

They believe that it might have fallen out of his pocket, possibly while he was enjoying a picnic lunch in the beauty spot meadow beside the River Wensum at Drayton.

Lorry driver Matt Arthurton (pictured), 50, found the 1914 Mons Star medal while detecting in a riverside meadow at Drayton near Norwich

Lorry driver Matt Arthurton (pictured), 50, found the 1914 Mons Star medal while detecting in a riverside meadow at Drayton near Norwich

Mr Arthurton, who took up metal detecting as a hobby 16 months ago when his girlfriend gave him a detector for Christmas, found the medal buried about ten inches down in the soil.

He managed to make out a service number and the name Mutimer engraved on the back of the medal and set about trying to find any descendants of the soldier who had earned it.

Online checks revealed Imperial War Museum records saying that it had belonged to Harold Frederick Mutimer and another site confirmed that he had been born in 1895 in Swainsthorpe, Norfolk.

Mr Arthurton appealed for any information about the Mutimer family on a Swainsthorpe community page on Facebook and was contacted by a Diana Mutimer who believed she may have been a distant cousin of Harold.

He then got a story placed in the Eastern Daily Press, which was seen by Harold’s granddaughter Ms Day who got in touch with him.

Dr Heighton, a GP from Downham Market, Norfolk, said: ‘It’s amazing that Matt managed to decode what was one the medal and realise it belonged to my grandfather.’

He managed to find out that it had been awarded to Harold Frederick Mutimer (above), who served in the Royal Fusiliers and the Royal Norfolk Regiment during the war
He managed to find out that it had been awarded to Harold Frederick Mutimer (above), who served in the Royal Fusiliers and the Royal Norfolk Regiment during the war

He and his sister said that regaining the medal was particularly poignant because Harold’s other medals were stolen in a burglary 30 years ago.

The siblings never knew their grandfather, who married Beatrice Gibson, as he died when their mother, Bridget Mutimer, was aged just one.

Dr Heighton said the family story was that his grandfather died as a consequence of having contracted pneumonia after being gassed in the First World War.

He had served in the 18th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and the 9th Battalion of Norfolk Regiment and may have fought at the Somme.

He added: ‘Our grandmother always said that he died from the war but it was almost 20 years later that he actually died.’

Ms Day said: ‘It has really made us revisit some of our family history and find out more about that side of the family which is probably the bit we know least about.’

Mr Arthurton of Lakenham, Norwich, has now handed the medal (pictured) over to Mr Mutimer’s grandchildren, Fiona Day and Richard Heighton
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Mr Arthurton of Lakenham, Norwich, has now handed the medal (pictured) over to Mr Mutimer’s grandchildren, Fiona Day and Richard Heighton

The medal was found on land around a mile away from where their grandfather ran a market garden nurseries after World War One in the village of Taverham.

Ms Day added: ‘We knew he had had greenhouses near Drayton at one time. He came from a farming family from Pulham and had siblings, Charlie and Iris.’

Mr Arthurton said: ‘I’m really pleased. It’s right that his medal is now back with his grandchildren and I am delighted to have helped get it back to them.

‘I didn’t recognise what sort of medal it was when I dug it up, but then I quickly found out it was a Mons Star awarded to soldiers who served in France or Belgium.

‘I thought that maybe it had been taken in a burglary and then buried, but when I found Fiona she told me how her aunt Iris had recalled how her grandfather had once lost it.

‘She said it was his favourite medal out of the three he was awarded and used to carry it around in his pocket until he lost it one day.

‘He was really gutted about it. We don’t know when he lost it, but it must have been more than 86 years ago and it has sat in the ground ever since.

‘His grandchildren are speculating that it might have fallen out of his pocket when he sat down to have a sandwich as it was such a nice spot.’

Mr Arburton said the majority of his metal detecting finds had been old buttons, buckles, stirrups, weights and coins, including a gold coin dating back to the 5th century which is in the process of being bought by a museum.

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