Community, police work together to return stolen WW I medals to family
'I was actually overwhelmed by the amount of support and research,' constable says
Stolen war medals are on the way back to the family of the man who earned them thanks to police and volunteers who research military history.
"I was actually overwhelmed by the amount of support and research that was done by members of the public," Medicine Hat police Const. Dave Allen said Friday.
"It was unbelievable. We had people calling and emailing."
Police had recovered two First World War medals while arresting two people for stealing from a donation basket at a local charity in December.
They issued a release asking for the public's help and boy, did they get it.
"There were people that did research on the boats that he fought in, in the war, there were people that did research on his immigration status, when he moved from Scotland to Canada. I was just blown away by the amount of information that people were able to find," Allen explained.
Based on work done by police and researchers who wanted to help, they found the family of L.B. Middleton, the man named on the medals.
In a strange coincidence, the man's son, John Middleton, had died just days earlier and his obituary appeared in the Medicine Hat News around the same time as the police's plea for help.
Allen said police were able to gather a lot of information about Louis Bremnar Middleton.
"We were able to research that through The National Archives of the U.K. It talks all about the different ships he assigned to while he was in the navy. It talks about the medals he got, his rank, his promotions and all of that," the constable said.
'Nice, little package' put together for family
"We were able to put all of that information, as well as all of the other information that the community found for us, into a nice little package that we are going to give to the family so they have a bit more information as to who their grandfather was and what he did to help the allies during the war."
Allen said the incident is a concrete reminder why he went into policing in the first place.
"There are certain times that you work in police and you think, 'What am I doing, how am I helping anybody?' and then there are certain times you have calls like this where you are able to reunite somebody with a really important family heirloom that they lost and get it back to them and you know that you have really made someone's day and you have really helped someone," Allen said.
"I am really happy that, that is what happened."
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With files from Diane Yanko