22 May 2024

Medals found in garden returned to family

By Rebecca Hannant

First World War medals found in a Withernsea garden have been given a new home.

Several months ago, Darren England, president of the Withernsea Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club, was put in touch with a 92-year-old woman from the town named Margaret Williamson, relating to medals she had found in her garden in Arthur Street.

Darren visited Mrs Williamson, and while there she told him that the two medals had been found while she was digging in her garden many years ago. Over the years she had tried to get them back to their owner’s family, but no one had come forward to claim the medals.

Darren said: “Looking at these medals I could see a First World War 14/15 star and a Special Constable medal. On the rear of the 14/15 star, it had the details of the soldier who received this – 1688 Lance Corporal GH Coverdale, East Riding of Yorks Yeomanry. The Special Constable medal was a little more difficult as it had been dinked around the edges and too dirty to read.”

Mrs Williamson gave Darren the medals to research, and he later discovered that they were issued to George Harrison Coverdale, who had lived in Hollym with his father, 10 brothers and three sisters. George was in the Army, and when war broke out he was posted to Egypt on November 10, 1915. He was reported to be very good at his job and on February 25, 1917, he was discharged and taken on to complete his officer training before being posted as a 2nd Lieutenant to the Royal Field Artillery.

Once the war finished George moved to Leeds and his medals were sent to 28 Wyther Park Terrace, Army, Leeds. These medals included the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Darren added: “It’s a mystery why they ended up in a garden on Arthur Street. Was it children playing who lost them or was it George having lost brothers in the war not wanting these memories so buried them? This may be something we never know.

“While researching I also asked residents for details of any of the Coverdale family that may still be living here. A couple of hours later with information received I contacted a Robin Coverdale who lives in Easington and is the great-great-grandson of one of the 11 brothers.”

On Saturday, July 29, Robin and his wife Beverley attended the Withernsea Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club to receive George’s medals. While speaking to Robin and Beverley, it was found that during the Second World War their father was a bus driver for the South Holderness villages. His wife became a clippie and they regularly drove from Hull into the villages and back.

Darren added: “They mentioned, just by chance, that on one occasion Rob’s father stopped to collect an injured RAF officer who had parachuted out of a crashing plane, and he took this gent to Dr Cripps in Patrington.

“Incredibly, you may remember this from the plane crash behind the water tower at Rimswell and the memorial we placed there at the beginning of 2023. Rob always wondered why the airman was there but now knows the full story.”