Monday 22 December 2014

Son gets dad's stolen war medals back – 23 years on

Published 22/07/2014 | 02:30

Larry O'Hara, left, from Waterford with his World War 1 medals that were returned to him by collector Gordon Power from Glenmore, Co Kilkenny. The medals were won by his late father Edward and stolen from his house.
Larry O'Hara, left, from Waterford with his World War 1 medals that were returned to him by collector Gordon Power from Glenmore, Co Kilkenny. The medals were won by his late father Edward and stolen from his house.

It was the family heirloom he thought he'd never see again – but the World War I medals earned by Larry O'Hara's father have been returned safely, thanks to the generosity of a collector.

It was purely by chance that Mr O'Hara contacted military genealogist Gordon Power in the hope of sourcing replicas of the medals after they were stolen from his home.

Larry's father Edward from Mooncoin in Co Kilkenny was awarded the medals for his participation at the Somme where he served with the Welsh Royal Fusiliers.

However, Mr O'Hara's home was broken into over 23 years ago and among the items stolen were the medals that were on display.

When Mr O'Hara was describing the medals to Mr Power, he recognised them as the medals he had purchased, in good faith, at an antiques shop some years before.

Without hesitation, Mr Power returned them to their rightful owner and would not accept any payment for the gesture.

"I couldn't believe it when Gordon told me he had the medals. It was just incredible," said Mr O'Hara, who now lives in Waterford.

"It was just lucky that Gordon had bought them and when he returned them I was delighted."

Mr O'Hara Sr enlisted in December 1914 and joined the Welsh regiment, taking part in the attack on Mametz Wood in July 1916.

Unlike more than 4,000 of his comrades from his division who perished, he returned to Co Kilkenny after the war.

Mr O'Hara Sr died in 1970 but, like most veterans, had rarely spoken of his wartime experiences.

"He never spoke about it a lot. He was a very quiet man," his son added.

Because of his wartime knowledge, Mr Power was also able to fill in a lot of blanks regarding Mr O'Hara's military service. He said: "I was delighted to be able to return these medals to the family.They could have been lost to them but now they're at home, where they belong."

Irish Independent

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