Kirkcaldy soldier's family reunited with long-lost First World War medals
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William MacLean started his search for Sarjeant Robert Laurie’s family earlier this month, having picked up the medals from a fellow collector in England. He had hoped to reunite the soldier’s family with the medals.
However, a lack of information, and multiple Robert Laurie’s caused problems finding the soldier’s family tree. But William has finally been able to crack the case and has found a number of relatives dotted around the world, including a granddaughter in Leven, thanks to old census data.
William explained: “I couldn't relate the medals and the soldier to a particular family because I had no point of reference. I didn't know where he lived until the 1921 census. In there was the pension record index card for the Salisbury Street address”.
That allowed Wiliam to work backwards through previous years census data and match it up to family trees available on Ancestry.com.
He explained: “Luckily for me, there were quite a few public ones. The first one I went to work on, because it was the most comprehensive one, led me to his niece Celeta Jones, and she was in Invercargill in New Zealand”.
Celeta was able to confirm that Sjt Laurie was her uncle and pointed William in the direction of Myra Barclay, who lives in Leven.
Speaking with Myra allowed William to fill in the last remaining blanks and reunite the family with the medals. The medals had been passed down to a grandson, also called Robert.
He explained: “The soldier died in 1961. This guy is called Robert Laurie Brunton and he's the grandson. He inherited the medals because he was called after Robert”.
It is presumed that the medals were originally lost in the mid-1990s following a house move. Robert, who lives in Nuneaton, was over the moon to see the medals again, which according to him were exactly as he remembered them.
William said: “He phoned me the next day and said ‘I can't believe that you've got the photographs and all the research’”.