THE lost medals of a fallen Ballarat World War I solider will be restored to former glory and presented to his descendants.
Almost 100 years after his death, Ballarat solider Private George Bailey’s war medals were found buried in a secret trench in the backyard of a Creswick house.
Days after The Courier reported the discovery, Creswick RSL sectary Phil Carter, who was leading the search for Private Bailey’s relatives, was contacted by members of his family.
Among them was Jim Crone, the grandson of Private Bailey’s brother Frederick, who was given the war medals after Private Bailey’s death.
Private Bailey was part of the 39th Battalion and enlisted in the war in Ballarat on April 12, 1916. He was killed in a gas attack in a field in Messines, Belgium, on June 18, 1917.
He was 36 years old and had never married.
Mr Crone, who lives in Saint Arnaud, contacted Mr Carter after watching the evening news last week.
“I saw it on the television and I wondered if it could somehow be connected to my mum’s family from Creswick,” Mr Crone said. “I had never heard of George before. My grandfather was elderly when I was just a boy. He had never mentioned him to me, but something made me want to look into it.”
Mr Crone said he would be honoured to walk in his great-uncle’s honour at the Creswick Anzac Day march on April 25.
The Creswick RSL has also been contacted by descendants of Private Bailey’s other four brothers.
On Wednesday, Mr Carter handed the medals to Dave Wright, an expert medal mounter who has operated Dave Wright Militaria and Collectables in Ballarat for more than 30 years.
“A lot of people came back from the war disillusioned and traumatised by what had happened. To them, the medals were a tragic reminder of what they had seen,” Mr Wright said.
“In those days, there wasn’t the same type of garbage collection that there is now.
“What happened was a lot of people would throw them out in the garden because they were too painful to keep. They didn’t realise the historical significance of the medals.”
According to the Australian Defence Department, the medals would most likely go to Mr Crone.
“Fred was George’s next of kin so, as the regulation stands, the medals should go to the closest living relative of Fred,” Mr Carter.
However, other ideas including permanently showcasing the medals at the Creswick RSL have been flagged.
Mr Carter said members of Private Bailey’s family would meet in the coming weeks to discuss the fate of the medals.