Last Tommy's medals go on display

paulfrasercollectibles

2015-06-26 11:37:12

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Last Tommy's medals go on display

Harry Patch's medals have been showcased at a museum he favoured

The medals belonging to Britain's last WWI soldier have gone on display in Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Regimental Museum in Bodmin. It was the regiment that Patch served in, and he had made several donations to keep it in order.

He had requested that the medals go on display permanently, and the museum is more than happy to oblige.

Harry Patch did not serve for long, but long enough to be injured at the battle of Passchendaele (3rd battle of Ypres) in his role as a machine gunner. A German shell exploded above his head wounding him and, worse, killing three of his fellow infantrymen, all good friends. The injury took him away from the front line.

Born in 1898, he was already too old to fight in WWII, but still faced some danger working as a fireman in Bath - a particularly important job in April 1942 during the Baedecker raids. The raids were said to be of every city given three stars in the Baedecker tourist guide to Great Britain, hence the name.

Patch had a total of eight medals: The British War Medal and the Victory Medal were received at the time of the First World War. He received the 1939-45 Defence Medal at the end of the Second World War, though this had to be replaced when lost, and re-awarded in 2008.

He was also given National Service Medal and the Hors de combat (the latter for outstanding bravery when injured).

Patch was made a Knight of the Lgion d'honneur in 1998 by the French President, then an Officer of the Lgion d'honneur in March 2009, months before his death. He was also made Knight of the Order of Leopold by King Albert II of Belgium in 2008.

Harry Patch's medals are unlikely to be sold on the open market. If they were, however, they would be very valuable. With medals, even more so than with other collectibles, much of the value derives from a knowledge of the first owner's bravery and character.

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