Good samaritan seeks owners of lost war medal

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A good samaritan is trying to track down the owner of a World War One medal he stumbled upon while working at Iceland.

Adrian Donaghy came across the war medal in a freezer at Iceland and, thanks to the help of Limavady man Nigel Richmond and others with an interest in World War One history, has uncovered interesting details about the war medal’s origins.

He said: “Basically, I found a World War One medal a year ago in Iceland, in Foyleside.

“I was in the middle of moving house and I forgot about it until it turned up again.

“I’m looking to return it to the rightful owner. It could be the only thing they have left of their Dad, Grandad or Uncle.

“This medal belonged to a local man that fought and died in the First World War. I’m thinking someone cherished it a lot and took it everywhere with them (hence how it ended up in a shop).”

He added: “I’ve had researchers and people on Facebook helping me with no luck as of yet.”

It is thought the medal was awarded after a man from Londonderry was killed when the HMS Bayano was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915 in a river in Scotland.

An article on the sinking of the Bayano, published in History Hub Ulster, states: “Just after 0500 hrs on 11 March 1915, Kapitanleutnant Bernd Wegener in U27 was positioned a few miles off Corsewall Point at the entrance to Loch Ryan, where the ferries from Cairnryan to Belfast and Larne now pass several times daily.

“HMS Bayano was steaming fast out of the Firth of Clyde heading south for Liverpool after taking on coal in Glasgow. Wegener spotted Bayano and manoeuvred himself into an attack position. U27 fired a torpedo which hit Bayano causing her to sink rapidly taking down 194 of the 220 man crew. Some survivors were picked up around 4 hours later by the Balmarino a vessel operated by Kelly’s Colliers of Belfast. The Castlereagh, another vessel operated by Kelly’s, reported siting the wreckage and being pursued by a submarine, possibly U27, for some time around dawn the following morning.

“Bodies began to wash up on the East Coast of the Ards Peninsula between Ballyquintin Point near Portaferry and Cloughey. Four of the men were collected by a lorry operated by Messrs Elliot merchants of Portaferry and taken to Ballyphilip Parish Church. Other men are buried in cemeteries in Whitechurch outside Ballywalter, and St Andrews Balleysborough near Ballyhalbert.

“There were at least ten Irish sailors lost on HMS Bayano.”

The medal is thought to have been awarded to one of those Irish sailors. Anyone who might be able to help find the medal’s owners can contact the Sentinel.