The Return of the Hedger Medal - 2018
In April of 2017, the David Routledge family of Comox Valleybrought in a WWI British War Service Medal that had been found in their late mother's belongings. The medal had no connection with the family as it was for a William F. Hedger, New Zealand Expeditionary Forces 1914-1918. It was hoped that HAMM could either use the medal for display at the annual Vancouver Island Anzac Day, or attempt to find information on Hedger and possible living descendants.
So in a very long and difficult project, research staff, led by Lewis Bartholomew, were able to piece together the life history of this once faceless medal's owner.
It took almost exactly a year but in the end, an amazing story emerged of William Hedger as well as the contact with Hedger's last remaining descendants. With the added assistance of national archives of the UK, Australia, and New Zealand the facts related to the medal and how it could have possibly ended up in the hands of the Routledge family emerged.
On 24 April, 2018, in a special ceremony at the Canadian High Commission in Wellington New Zealand, the Hedger Medal was repatriated to New Zealand and presented to the Hedger family in person by HAMM Executive Director Lewis Bartholomew.
For a complete transcript, photos, documents, and maps of the history of William Hedger and his importance to the nation of New Zealand, please contact the museum to request a copy (processing fee of $25 applies). Or visit HAMM to read the story in our library.
William Frank Hedger
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Regimental Number 55963
NZ Rifle Brigade Reserve Battalion
G company 28
top left: front face of the British War Service Medal issued to William Frank Hedger
middle row L-R: the Routledge family says goodbye to the medal which was in their care for almost 100 years at the Vancouver Island Anzac Day April 21, 2018 / Lewis Bartholomew addressing the audience at the Canadian High Commission in Wellington New Zealand April 24, 2018 / Lewis Bartholomew presenting David Hedger with his great uncle's war medal.
bottom row L-R: Bartholomew, Pam Mazoyer, David Hedger, CCG Mario Bot / Bartholomew is presented with a "lemon squeezer" from the New Zealand Department of National Defense