Long-lost war medal recovered following extensive research
A long-lost medal belonging to a Great War veteran from Dublin has been recovered following years of research.
The medal belonged to soldier James Murray who first joined the British army as a young man and fought with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers during the Second Boer War (1899-1902).
During the First World War Mr Murray re-enlisted with his old regiment and participated in both the Battle of Messines and the Passchendaele offensive in 1917.
He received two separate commendations for gallantry and also the Military Medal for Bravery during those significant actions.
NUI Galway academic Dr John Murray had been researching his great grandfather over a number of years.
He said: “During the Great War James had to leave behind a very young family, including my own grandfather Michael who was only three years old.
“They must have waited very anxiously at home for him during all of the times he faced extreme danger in the trenches of the Western Front.
“He was immensely brave and experienced a number of highs and lows in life.
“It was a privilege to unearth his life-story, and also something of an emotional roller-coaster.”
James Murray was reunited with his young family following the Armistice and returned to working class life in Dublin.
He died in 1949 and his widow Jane survived him by some 28 years.
Tragedy struck in 1963 when her dilapidated tenement home on Fenian Street catastrophically collapsed, killing two young girls.
Mrs Murray lost everything in the disaster, and the event helped to precipitate the Dublin housing crisis of the 1960s, which eventually led to the clearing of the remaining tenement slums and the reshaping of Dublin’s urban landscape.
During the course of his investigation Dr Murray discovered that eight years previously someone else had been searching for information online about the Great War soldier.
Gerard “Del” Delaney, originally from Dublin and now living in the UK, had inherited some old medals from his mother and one of them, a First World War Victory Medal, clearly bore Mr Murray’s name and regimental number on the rim.
The pair made contact through a member of an online military discussion forum.
Mr Delaney, himself a decorated former soldier with the Royal Logistic Corps, said: “I was never quite sure how James’s medal came to be in my family’s possession, particularly as no clear relationship could be traced back to him.
“When John and I first spoke by phone, I immediately realised the importance of returning this precious item to James’s direct descendants.”
Mr Delaney and John Murray finally met for the first time in Dublin last year and Private James Murray’s Victory Medal was presented back to the Murray family.