The Hedger family receives the medal at the Canadian High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand with the assistance Lewis Bartholomew and High Commissioner Mario Bot.

Hedger medal returns to its rightful resting place

Year-long challenge to return First World War medal to New Zealand family concludes

When local Comox Valley resident David Rutledge brought in a Great War medal to show staff at HMCS Alberni Museum and Memorial (HAMM), it seemed like an ordinary day for them. However, matters were soon to take an extraordinary change, and direction.

Research on the medal began immediately, a task which took three weeks short of a year to complete.

It was eventually discovered that the British War Medal was originally given to New Zealander William Frank Hedger. The British War Medal was approved in 1919 for issue to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who had rendered service between August 1914 and November 1918. He was probably presented his medal while still in London.

By 1920, Hedger had returned to New Zealand, where he lived out his days, until his passing in the 1950s.

RELATED: Museum trying to get a war medal back to New Zealand

Fundraising projects were set up to return the medal to the soldier’s family in New Zealand. This was not an easy task, as in the end only $250 was raised to cover expenses. However, this did not deter director Lewis Bartholomew in his motivation to deliver the medal, in person, to the Hedger family.

Just when it seemed that the medal’s journey home would not be possible as originally planned, news came from the High Commission of Canada in New Zealand that they wished to host the repatriation and hand-over in Wellington. Thus new life was breathed into the medal’s mission to be returned.

Bartholomew left for New Zealand on April 21, and the 100-year journey of a medal for Pt. William F. Hedger’s service in the Great War ended on April 24, 2018, one day short of the national ANZAC Day. The emotional 20—minute ceremony took place in the Canada Room at the High Commission of Canada in the presence of High Commissioner Mario Bot.

After the medal was in the hands of David Hedger, and safely delivered to its homeland, Bartholomew was awarded a special gift from the NZDND for his and HAMM’s efforts to repatriate a piece of history to their country.

It is not known exactly how the medal ended up locally in the Rutledge family’s hands, but it is now known how William Hedger earned it. It is not known where the medal had been for the most part of 100 years, but we finally know where the story of this century-old medal ends. It ends half a world away, in our sister Commonwealth country of New Zealand.

To view the story of the Hedger medal and to see photos of HAMM’s presence as a distinguished guest at the National ANZAC Day ceremonies, visit the museum at 625 Cliffe Ave. in Courtenay.


Presentation of a “Lemon Squeezer” to Lewis Bartholomew from the NZDND in appreciation for his work to reunite the service medal with the Hedger family. Photo courtesy High Commission of Canada in New Zealand

Just Posted

Christmas comes early for residents of Cumberland Lodge

It’s Christmas in September at Cumberland Lodge. The Rotary Club of Cumberland… Continue reading

School for students on Hornby Island ‘normal as can be’: portables expected in new year

While it’s not an ideal situation, the return to school for students… Continue reading

Big Beach Cleanup builds awareness of ocean debris impacts

First two cleanup days brought in 40 cubic yards of plastic and styrofoam

Rain and high winds to hit Vancouver Island this afternoon

Thursday and Friday to see downpour of 20 to 50mm and high winds on Vancouver Island

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Thieves escape after man claims his wife is giving birth

RCMP searching for suspects in brazen daytime break in

Rural Canada Post carriers could see 25-per-cent pay hike: spokesman

An arbitrator has released a ruling in a long-standing pay equity dispute at Canada Post

Seventh day of searching for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts are concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Freeland brings optimism back to NAFTA talks

NAFTA talks resume in Washington

5th and Fitzgerald will temporarily close

New sidewalks part of Complete Street project

BC Children’s Hospital warns of possible PayPal fraud

Recipients are asked to forward the emails to PayPal

Still too many B.C. seniors in care facilities, or at home on drugs

Seniors Advocate watching use of antipsychotics, opioids

Most Read