A Broulee man has found a British War Medal missing for 70 years in Moruya – and a campaign is underway to return it to Scotland.
Tony Becchio was using a metal detector at Granite Town, where workers quarrying stone for the Sydney Harbour Bridge lived last century, when he found the World War I medal.
The Eurobodalla Shire’s own “Medals Gone Missing” sleuth Gary Traynor says it was posthumously awarded to a Scotsman, tragically killed during the battle of The Somme on the Western Front in 1916.
“This soldier’s name was William McGunigal, who served with the Royal Scots,” Mr Traynor, a former police officer who tracks down and returns missing war medals, said.
“His service number was 10625 and he lies buried in a CWGC grave in the Somme.
“The war medal was been given to his family at war’s end.”
How it ended up buried on the northern bank of the Moruya River is another story.
“Two of William’s sisters married Scottish stonemasons who traveled to Australia to cut granite for the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” Mr Traynor said.
The sisters were Jessie Martin and Bella McDondald.
“During their time here at Moruya, the British War Medal was apparently lost … only to be discovered 70-odd years later,” Mr Traynor said.
Mr Becchio was using his metal detector at the site of former accommodation huts for the Scottish quarry men when he made the find.
Now, he and Mr Traynor would love it to be restored to its recipient’s descendants in Scotland, in time for the centenary of the end of World War I in November.
Medals Gone Missing, a not-for-profit organisation, has launched a fundraising campaign so Mr Becchio can personally hand it to the family in time for Remembrance Day.
“Descendants of William McGunigal have been located in Scotland and it is our desire to take this medal home,” Mr Traynor said.
“It should be remembered that the granite memorial which forms part of the Martin Place cenotaph in Sydney is also constructed from Moruya granite.
Mr Traynor has started a funding page to help return the medal.