28th October 2020

A group of war medals have been returned to the recipient’s family, five years after they were stolen from a house in Bath, after being tracked down through auction records.

The Distinguished Service Medal group awarded to Naval artificer, William Henry Waldron, was among a collection of other medals and jewellery stolen from a private house in 2015. Four years later they were sold at Woolley and Wallis, consigned by a vendor who had bought them in all innocence. When the family later spotted the medals and contacted the auction house, staff there were only too pleased to work alongside the police and help track down their buyer to reunite the medals with their rightful owner.

“For many people, medals hold a deep personal significance and Mr Waldron’s family were clearly devastated to lose them in this way,” said Medals and Coins specialist, Ned Cowell. “It was therefore wonderful to be able to get them back to his grand-daughter, who is rightfully proud of his bravery and war service.”

Chief Engine Room Artificer William Henry Waldon was awarded the DSM in 1942 following the Battle of Cape Matapan , the first major fleet action for the Royal Navy since 1916. The medal citation in the London Gazette speaks of his “zeal, devotion to duty and exemplary conduct throughout the day and night of the action”. In fact, Mr Waldron’s family had been unaware of the precise reason his medals had been awarded and so the research carried out by Woolley and Wallis in 2019 was an added bonus when the group was returned.

Asked to comment on the problems of stolen lots at auction, Cowell was at pains to point out that such incidences were rare. “Our auction catalogues are always compared against the Art Loss register and we are extremely careful with our due diligence,” he explained. “Unfortunately, in this case the medals had been sold several times over before they reached us and so we had no expectation that there was any adverse history, and it certainly came as a shock to our vendor when the truth was realised. However, we will always work closely with the police in any matters like this and obviously the outcome in this instance has made all that work worthwhile.”

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