Stolen goods

« Back to stolen goods

Stolen WW1 Medals

In 1991 I had my Grandfathers 3 WW1 medals stolen from my home in Johannesburg, South Africa. A 14-15 Star, a Victory and a War Medal. I thought that was the last I would ever see of them. They were in the name of 2Lt G.E Haynes R.E. I knew little about my Grandfather, but 4 years ago I was in the UK and checked out his records in the PRO. I didn't read much into them and it was only by chance later that I did a search on the 11th East Lancashire Battalion on the net and I realised he was an original 'Accrington Pal', had joined up under a false name so he could basically 'do a runner' on his pregnant 1st wife. The other factor was that he had nothing to do with the Accrington area, being a Londoner. Anyhow, he was at the first day of the battle of the Somme and features throughout William Turners book, however never under his real name (Frank McVickers was his 'alias'). He was then commissioned (from Sergeant Signaler, 11th East Lancs (X Coy "Districts")) into the Royal Engineers as a 2Lt in 1917. He was discharged as a Lt in 1920).

To turn out more info, I got in touch with people at museums in Accrington and was amazed to find out that only months before they had been contacted by a medal collector who 'had your grandfathers medals'. They even had a name and an email address and I contacted this gentleman from my (now) home in Sydney Australia and he had indeed had my medals for a short period of time having bought them on Ebay. However, he had sold them at a militaria fair somewhere in the north of England and had not recorded who they were sold to. So, so near but so far, they disappeared again after this fluky brush with them over 13 years later! It might be of interest to confirm the legend that surviving Accrington Pals wore the 14-15 Star in protest to the fact that Churchill had refused to grant it. The 14-15 Star I had had the name erased as each would have got one after the war privately and removed the original name. I also have a picture of my grandfather as Major G.E Haynes, C.O, A Coy, 7th Herts Home Guard (HTS7) in 1944 where he is clearly wearing the ribbon. The 11th East Lancs always insisted to a man that they had been in action in the 14-15 period, having been torpedoed on their way to France from Egypt on the last day of 1915! (just before they were nearly wiped out at the battle of Serre). They also insisted that they had served in a war zone being Egypt (threatened by the Turks) even though they never saw action. This apparently the other requirement for being awarded the Star. The Star was not present with the 2 other medals the collector had, mainly because it probably would have been discarded by someone who didn't realise the significance of the unnamed medal. Any Accrington Pals collection with 3 medals, the Star being unmarked is authentic therefore, not just someone trying it on.

Anyhow, what I am trying to find out if any member can help by recalling if they ever came across these medals or have them in their possession. They were sold with the PRO copies marked "Frank McVickers alias George Edward Haynes" so they would really stand out. I would appreciate them back and even though they are technically stolen property would be prepared to pay either a reasonable market value or what the person paid for them. Can anyone please help or have any other suggestions where I might list this appeal? My email address is

Thank you very much for your assistance

Jeremy Havard


Date posted: 07 April 2010