The remarkable story has been revealed of how a soldier's First World War badge found its way to his family, all thanks to a group of metal detectorists.

Detectorists Dave Batcheler and his partner Sharon Wilson, are members of North Detecting Events, an official club with more than 900 members which operates across North Yorkshire with permission from landowners.

Near Northallerton they dug up a First World War silver badge. Working with The Great War Forum (1914/1918), which Dave said was an invaluable source of information, they discovered the badge belonged to Fred Brown of the 4th battalion the Yorkshire Regiment. They were also given his address when he enlisted, and information detailing an injury to his leg he suffered while serving in France which ultimately led to his discharge.

An Ancestry search connected Dave to Fred’s address in 1911 when he was living with his brother John Thomas Brown, sister in law Kate and their three children. That census entry and the solution to the puzzle appeared on the Ancestry tree of Fred’s great great niece, Zoe Hancock, nee Brown, from Northallerton.

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After Dave made contact an astonished Zoe checked the family tree and confirmed the connection through her great grandparents. “We wondered whether great great uncle Fred might have any direct descendents but we drew a blank on the family tree,” said Zoe.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Her father John Brown made contact with other members of the family but again no living direct relatives could be found, however Dave Batchelor was determined to reunite the badge with the family.

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Zoe said: “Great, great uncle Fred had sadly slipped beyond living memory. Further research into his life after the war showed that in 1921 he was lodging at the George and Dragon in Ainderby Steeple and working as a ‘beastman’ which seemed to be indicative of working with cattle.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

“So it seems likely that he would have been working in the field half a mile from his lodgings, when the pin securing his war badge came loose.

“From here Fred’s story becomes more unclear. We are continuing our search for uncle Fred’s final resting place, and can only hope that the loss of his war badge didn’t result in any unpleasant encounters for him without his proof of service. We really wish to express our gratitude to all of the individuals, clubs and organisations who have given their time, knowledge and resources to reuniting this with the family.”