Children have the most amazing imaginations. Wanting to be a treasure hunter like Indiana Jones can turn any ordinary day into an extraordinary adventure.
These hunts normally end up relatively fruitless, but every so often something amazing is found.
When Mike Iacovelli was only 9 years old, he was digging in his Worcester home’s garden when he came across a real piece of treasure! He first thought it was an old coin.
After cleaning it off, he saw the inscription on the front, “The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919.”
Intrigued, the young boy asked his mother to take him to the Worcester Museum to find out more about the mysterious coin. The museum curator told him that what he had actually found a WWI Medal of Freedom. They were able to show him many other medals like the one he discovered.
He wasn’t able to find out much more information than that. “Understandably, back in the early 80’s, with nothing much other than the use of an encyclopedia, there was not much I could find,” Iacovelli said.
He held onto it throughout the years, even taking it with him when he moved to Canada. He said, “It has been treasured by me for many years with my intention of one day finding the rightful owners and family who it once belonged to.”
He discovered the medal again while showing his three sons his old coin collection. Although he had kept it safe in a metal tin, he had completely forgotten about his buried treasure.
“We did some research on the internet because I was really baffled as to why and how the medal came to be in my garden,” he said.
Iacovelli discovered that his childhood home sat on what used to be a field outside of the city. He remembers digging up old pipes and coins so he believes, “it may have been a place where people got rid of things.”
He also found out that the medal was awarded to Arthur George Hammond who died on June 12, 1917. It was sent to his widow who lived in Worcester after his death.
In April 2018, he turned to social media to find any relatives of the solider. He posted in a Facebook group called Worcestershire Memories.
It only took a few days to get a response from the soldier’s great-great-granddaughter, Debbie Evans. Debbie had been studying her family tree and was trying to find out more information about George because her family members didn’t know much about him. She remembers being “emotional” when she first saw the Facebook post.
The medal has now been reunited with Carol Griffiths, the soldier’s granddaughter, over 100 years after his death.
Carol said, “It is a one in a million find and I am thrilled to have the medal back in the family. Although I never met my grandfather, having the medal which was awarded to him is wonderful.”
“It reminds me of the huge sacrifice all those soldiers made during the war. I will treasure the medal.”
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