Man Who Dug Up WWI Medal As a Child Returns It to Soldier's Family

A.G. Hammond was awarded the Freedom Medal After He Died at Age 24 on the Western Front in WWI

More than a century after 24-year-old A.G. Hammond was killed on the Western Front, a World War I medal issued to him has been given to his granddaughter.

The Freedom Medal had been dug up by Mike Iacovelli in the 1980s, when he was a 9-year-old child looking for hidden treasure in his back yard in Worcester, Great Britain.

He convinced his mum to take to him to Worcester Museum to ask after the medal. He had scrubbed it clean and discovered "The Great War for Civilisation -1914 - 1919" inscribed on its surface, along with "A.G. Hammond."

At the museum, he was told it was a Freedom Medal posthumously awarded to Hammond after the Great War. It had been sent to his widow in Worcester and somehow ended up in a field outside the city.

Iacovelli's home was built over that field.

The boy put it in a tin box where he kept his treasures and over the years, forgot about it.

He emigrated to Toronto and 2004 and took the box with him. Recently, he showed it to his three sons, and was prompted to try to find the family of Arthur George Hammond, who was a gunner in the 61st Division's ammunition column.

"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 told the news agency SWNS.

"I recall the delight when I started to clean off the dirt and realized that this was not just another old coin for my collection."

After showing it to his sons, Iacovelli posted a message on the Facebook page Worcestershire Memories.

Days later, Hammond's great-great-granddaughter, Debbie Evans, responded. "I just got so emotional seeing the post on Facebook. Coincidentally, I have been researching my family tree and specifically, George," because her family did not know much about him, she said. 

Eventually, the medal made its way to Carol Griffiths, 75, Hammond's granddaughter. She lives just 300 yards from where the medal was found.

"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," she said.