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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

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Bernard hoping to find family linked to medal

A BRONZE medallion, popularly known as the Death Penny, was issued after World War One to the next-of-kin of all British servicemen who were killed as a result of the war.

guardian: Bernard Hanratty with the medallion

By Margaret Crosby

Former scrap metals merchant Bernard Hanratty of Whitehaven found such a ‘penny’ in a skip, over 40 years ago. It was inscribed ‘Albert Hurst – He died for Freedom and Honour’ and Bernard kept it by him as his own ‘guardian angel’.

“When I was working, I kept it on my desk in the office,” he said, “It was appointed Guardian Albert.”

Now, after all these years, he has discovered that the recipient, Albert Hurst, lived at Ribton Moorside, Hensingham. He was a carter at the Preston Street goods yard and died, aged 27, leaving behind a wife and two children.

Hurst was serving with the Border Regiment 9th Battalion in the Balkans. He was killed in action in Salonika, on August 30, 1917, and is buried in Macedonia.

He was the son of Hewetson Hurst, a clog maker born in Cockermouth, and his wife Hannah, who lived at 6 Quay Street, Whitehaven. He had a sister, Mary, and a brother, Hewetson.

Bernard, 87, is keen to re-unite ‘Guardian Angel Albert’ with his real family and if there are any descendants still around, he will happily hand over to them the medal.

Around 1,355,000 medallions were issued and continued to be so into the 1930s. The medallion shows the image of Britannia holding a trident. It shows the deceased’s name cast in raised letters but no rank as there was to be no distinction between the sacrifice made.

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