Mystery over war medal

ITV reporter Kenny Toal with Belper man Herbert Butler's Victory Medal
ITV reporter Kenny Toal with Belper man Herbert Butler's Victory Medal

Relatives of a Belper soldier who bravely fought for his country during World War One are being sought after his medal was found for sale on internet auction site eBay.

Herbert Butler, who served with the Durham Light Infantry, was awarded a Victory Medal at the end of the Great War in recognition of his service between 1915 and 1919.

However, the medal, which is engraved with Herbert’s name, has now been found among dozens of similar medals on the popular internet auction website.

Now, a campaign is being launched to re-unite Herbert’s descendants with the medal - after it was sold at auction to ITV reporter Kenny Toal for £15.

The appeal comes as the Belper News is continuing its Pennies for Our Heroes Acampaign to plant a tree and install a plaque in the town’s Memorial Gardens to honour soldiers who died defending our freedom in the 1914-18 war.

Kenny said: “I’ve been given the task of covering many stories relating to the Centenary of World War 1 for ITV Tyne Tees and one of the things that struck me was how easy it is to buy memorabilia from the Great War on the internet.

“I found it quite sad that medals like this are available for as little as ten pounds. These are medals that have been awarded to men who have put their life on the line for this country and we are able to buy them for a tenner.

“So I had the idea of buying a medal and telling the story of the man it belonged to.

“I came across Herbert Butler’s, as he served with the Durham Light Infantry, which is one of the local regiments in our broadcast area. I put a bid in and bought it. When it arrived and I held it in my hand it made me even more determined to tell his story.”

Herbert’s last known address was Over Lane, Belper. He was discharged in June 1919 on ill health grounds. In the 1911 census it indicated that he was a coal miner.

Mr Toal continued: “It would be wonderful to be able to find out more about him and ideally be able to meet one of his living relatives who I could pass the medal onto.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the response and help I’ve had from people trying to help me tell his story. It’s been difficult. But I’m still hopeful that somebody somewhere knows who he was and can come forward.”

Mr Toal is being helped in his search for relatives of Herbert by Alex Hall, who works on behalf of the War Commission to trace ancestors of fallen soldiers.

As part of the search Kath Butler, of Sandbed Lane, Belper, was contacted to see if she was a relative of Mr Butler’s.

She said: “Alex had been phoning Butlers in the phone directory to try and find any possible leads. I knew it was not my family because the Butler side originates from Duffield, but there were two lads in my school year with the same surname.

“Alex informed me that Herbert Butler was born in 1887 and served with the Durham Light Infantry he was discharged in June, 1919, on ill health grounds.“

Mr Hall, from Glengarnock, Scotland said Herbert would never have been far from the front as part of the light infantry who were involved in many of the Great War’s bloodiest battles.He said Mr Butler would have been discharged due to injury or ill health and was most likely part of a rear guard which served until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

If you can help contact News reporter Andrew Wakefield 0115 9 446180 or email