New twist in hunt for missing medals

THE hunt for two missing wartime medals took a new twist yesterdayafter it was discovered that a museum had taken them away from a safe custody box.Barclays Bank said new information proved that it had followed the correct procedures and was not at fault in releasing two George Medals from its safe in Aldeburgh.

By Richard Smith

THE hunt for two missing wartime medals took a new twist yesterdayafter it was discovered that a museum had taken them away from a safe custody box.

Barclays Bank said new information proved that it had followed the correct procedures and was not at fault in releasing two George Medals from its safe in Aldeburgh.

The spotlight now turns on to Aldeburgh Museum Trust after it was discovered that someone acting on behalf of the trust had taken away the medals four years ago. The person's identity has not been released.


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Replicas of the medals are contained in the museum in the Moot Hall - but there is still no sign of the originals.

The first was awarded to Dorothy Clarke, a housewife, who became the first woman to receive the medal in 1941 for bravely driving an ambulance though a minefield to help injured and dying soldiers. The second was awarded to first-aid attendant Bessie Knight-Hepburn, from Aldeburgh.

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A meeting was held yesterday afternoon between Barclays officials and the town council. It was called at short notice after critical comments were made at a town council meeting on Monday about the bank's involvement in the safe keeping of the two medals.

The search has been going on since April and it has also involved a police investigation. But it appears the inquiry was hindered because it was mistakenly believed that a brown envelope containing the original medals had been lodged by the town council when in fact the museum trust entrusted it to the bank.

A statement issued by Aldeburgh Town Council said: ''This meeting examined documentary evidence supplied by the bank which establishes beyond doubt that the medals had been withdrawn from the bank's custody in September 2002 by Aldeburgh Museum Trust.

''This fact had not previously emerged because of changes made in 1998 to the bank's system of recording safe custody items.

''It had also been presumed until today that the medals were deposited in the name of Aldeburgh town council, but this was not the case.

''In the light of this new information Aldeburgh town council will assist the Museum Trust to pursue the investigation further.''

Terry Staff, Barclay's area director for Suffolk said after the meeting: ''In September 2002 Barclays in Aldeburgh received a letter requesting that the envelope is to be discharged to a named individual.

''The named person duly collected the envelope and signed the discharge form to acknowledge receipt. All parties present at today's meeting confirmed that the documentation confirms that the item is no longer held by Barclays bank.''

Diana Hughes, a member of the trust's management committee, said: ''At present those in charge of the museum do not know anything about it but they will try and investigate together with the town council.''

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