Help return these family heirlooms

2017-09-26 06:01

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These are the medals bestowed upon my grandfather, E Bottomley, who was a British soldier who served in WW2 (he was stationed at the liberation of Bergen Belsen, which is a story for another day). He later worked in Rhodesia and was awarded some more medals. They’re quite distinct and have his name engraved on some of them. As my grandparents only had one son who only had three children, I’m 100% certain they’re the only group of medals in the world that look exactly like this.

Besides, Bottomley is an unusual surname. My grandparents were weird and didn’t keep anything. This was pretty much the only thing of sentimental value they passed on to me. It is honestly my most treasured possession. I kept it in a tin box at my mother’s house, being scared I would misplace them.

We had quite a dramatic year in 2015 and moved back to South Africa from the UK. We lived with my mother in Stellenbosch for a while and I last remember looking at the medals in the box in around September 2016.

My mother moved away from Stellenbosch in around March 2017. We moved away ourselves in the beginning of April. This time I told her to give me the tin of my grandfather’s items (but didn’t look in the box).

In about July I had a look in the box and realised the medals were missing. Only the medals (and not even the miniatures of the medals which were also there). Obviously, a theft is traumatic enough without taking in account I don’t know who stole the items and when and if it’s someone I knew or even the movers.

As I’m a journalist and serial Googler I did some online searching and saw my medals were sold on BidorBuy in April 2017 for R10 000! (I never even thought of selling them, they have such a sentimental value to me).

I made a case at the police station and did some further digging.

I found out the medals were sold by a company called ‘Southern Cross Medals’ to a local man. I doubt Southern Cross knew they were stolen as it was quite blatantly advertised. I found the local man who bought the medals. He told me he bought them for a man in the UK and they were shipped to the UK man in June this year. I found the UK man and he was naturally shocked and angry at the whole mess.

This is where it gets even more frustrating. I couldn’t find Southern Cross Medals’ details.

I contacted BidorBuy who told me they could release the details of Southern Cross Medals if they had a subpoena from the investigating officer.

There have been two investigating officers. The first one didn’t know what BidorBuy was. The second at least knows what it is and I think he tries to help, but we’re stuck. The case was sent by his superiors to the public prosecutor who decided it’s not worth the effort and issued a ‘nolle prosequi’ certificate. This basically means they’re not going to pursue the case. And they can’t get a supboena for the details of the seller.

I could make this a story about incompetence, but I don’t have the energy.

The UK seller says he will return the medals, but he’s basically waiting to talk to the seller/Southern Cross Medals (understandably I think he wants a refund).

I can’t find the details of Southern Cross Medals and as far as I can see they only use that name on BidorBuy.

Does anyone know how I can find ‘Southern Cross Medals’? Then I (and the investigating officer) can explain the whole situation without getting a subpoena. I’ve emailed some of the larger names in the medal industry in South Africa, but I haven’t had much success.

Nielen de Klerk Bellville

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