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4 December 2003

Bizarre WWI Kiwi medal find by New Zealand Army Officer in Afghanistan bazaar

A New Zealand soldier’s World War I medal found in an Afghanistan bazaar by a Kiwi Army engineer in April will be handed to the soldier’s descendants.

Lieutenant Terry McDonald, who was serving in Kabul with the International Security Assistance Force from February to August, found the medal in April while sifting through a stall at a bazaar outside the German military base where he worked.

The medal’s recipient, Private Lucas of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, was clearly engraved on the medal’s rim.

Lt McDonald said war medals from a variety of countries were frequently on sale at Kabul markets but it was the first New Zealand one he had come across. “I was quite taken aback.”

He often looked at the medals “for something to do,” he said.

The find was even more poignant for Lt McDonald who came across the medal on Anzac Day. He paid the vendor US$40, haggling the price down from $65.

Lt McDonald began searching for the medal’s owner on the Internet while in Kabul, without success.

On his return home he discovered through Army records the owner’s full name was Edmund Stanley Sayer Lucas of Harvey St, Nelson. The medal was distributed in 1923.

He then contacted the Electoral Office who gave him further information and contacted the Nelson Mail newspaper on his behalf. A reporter at the Mail tracked the family down.

Pte Lucas’ niece, Sarah Bamford, of Nelson, said her father told her how he remembered as a young boy standing on the pier waving to Pte Lucas as he sailed off to war.

Her father, who was Pte Lucas’ younger brother died earlier this year, in his 90s.

Although details were sketchy, Pte Lucas remained in Britain after the war and trained as a doctor. During WWII he served with the British Army in Persia with the 29th Indian General Hospital.

Sarah Bamford thought her uncle eventually rose to the rank of colonel. He only returned to New Zealand occasionally and on his retirement lived in Hong Kong.

The large silver medal, the British War Medal, which is in surprisingly good condition, features the head of King George V on one side and “1914” and “1918” engraved on the other. It was given to New Zealand soldiers who served in WWI.

Lt McDonald was making arrangements to hand over the medal to Sarah Bamford next week.

Last month, Major-General Jerry Mateparae presented Lt McDonald with a Chief of Army Commendation, for his service in Afghanistan. His work involved coordinating engineering projects in the Kabul region.

The award was in recognition of his “maturity, dedication, responsibility, and initiative”.

In 2003, Lt McDonald was based at Burnham Military Camp, near Christchurch.


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