Mystery of First World War medal found in garden

The 1914-15 Rainbow Star awarded to Frank Gates
The 1914-15 Rainbow Star awarded to Frank Gates

A family from Luton is calling on the public to help them return a First World War medal to the relatives of the fallen warrior it honoured.

Clint and Jemma Jell of Stopsley were stunned when they found what appeared to be a medal while digging in their back garden last year.

After leaving the black clumped object in a glass of coke overnight to dissolve, they were amazed to find a well-preserved medal awarded to Pte F Gates, service number 13335.

Mr Jell, 33, said: “I rang up the Imperial War Museum and they said ‘you’ve got the First World War medal issued to Frank Gates’”.

Little is known about Frank Gates, the soldier behind the medal who served in the 7th Batallion of the Bedfordshire Regiment. He was from Luton and died on July 1, 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Mr Jell said: “It will be really hard for us to part with this medal as I’ve become quite attached to it.

“We’ve had offers from museums, but they’ll put it in a glass cabinet, and we’d really like to reunite it with the relatives of this soldier who died.”

The medal has been an object of fascination everywhere it has been shown, from pubs to churches.

Equally mysterious is how the medal came to be buried in the garden of the Jells.

Before the 1950s the area is believed to have been arable fields, and it is suspected it may have been left by someone working there.

Anyone with information about Frank Gates, or who thinks they might be a relative, call 01582 798512.