War medals found in South Yorkshire canal

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A World War One medal inscribed ‘W Clarke’ has been found at the bottom of a canal lock in South Yorkshire - and now a waterway charity is hoping to find the family of its original owner.

Workers from the Canal and River Trust found the medal once they had drained the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation to fit new lock gates at Aldwarke Lock near Rotherham.

The Victory Medal was awarded to all those who served in the armed forces or in military hospitals between August 5, 1914, and November 11, 1918.

Made from bronze and measuring 36mm in diameter, the medal depicts the winged figure of Victory on one side and the words The Great War For Civilization 1914-1919 on the other.

The name W Clarke is inscribed around the edge.

One of the canal team, Mark Long, was clearing the lock chamber of built-up mud and debris when he came across the medal.

The team also found two cannonballs and the Trust’s heritage experts are doing some research to try to find out more about where they came from. It’s possible they may have been transported on the water during the English Civil War.

Mark said: “We couldn’t believe it, we’re used to uncovering all sorts when we drain a canal but I’ve never found anything like this.

“I was clearing the mud and silt out of the lock so we could get started and there it was.

“I’ve no idea how it ended up in the canal but it’s a real shame it did, and I’d love for it to be returned to the family of this person who gave so much to earn it.”

Judy Jones, heritage advisor for the Trust said: “South Yorkshire’s waterways have a rich history all of their own but this is a really interesting discovery.”