Just occasionally something in life comes along that you really want to get your teeth into and offer to help someone.
This happened recently following a telephone call from our local radio station, BBC Radio Lincolnshire. I am no stranger to the radio station and often help with World War One stories on the 70th anniversary of D Day had a full morning with the presenter, Melvyn Prior, looking at the county contribution to D-Day, especially the two American airborne divisions that parachuted into Normandy.
The telephone call that morning concerned a listener, Derek, who had found in his workshop some World War One medals and noticed from the name, rank and number engraved on the edge belonged, most likely, to a local lad from the Lincolnshire Regiment.
With this detail, I soon found he was indeed a local lad and as well as two campaign medals the third was the Military Medal, which as you may know is only awarded for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire.
Derek had contacted BBC Radio Lincolnshire in the hope that a listener would know a member of the family and the medals could be returned.
Both Derek and I soon had our time on the radio with Melvyn, and the search started to find the family of the soldier, with the aim of reuniting the medals after they had been professionally cleaned and the ribbons replaced.
The following is what was known about the soldier; he was Private Charles George Vinter, born approx 1896, who first served in The Lincolnshire Regiment and later in the Essex Regiment; he originated from the Boston area of Lincolnshire and worked on a farm before joining up early in the war.
In addition to The Military Medal, he was awarded The British War Medal and the Victory Medal; the medals are often known as Squeak and Wilfred from the famous nicknames Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.
Sadly, Charles died of injuries sustained on 23 August 1918, just a matter of weeks before the war ended, and is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave close to where he fell in France.
A little further research found that Charles’s father was born about 1853 in the Wood Enderby area of Lincolnshire, he lived until his late 80s, and died about 1941 – his name was Fred Vinter.
Charles had a brother called Stephen who was about a year younger, he also joined the army in World War One and sadly like his older brother did not survive, Derek had also found his medals.
Stephen died of his wounds in Belgium in the spring of 1918, a few months before his brother died, and like his brother is buried in a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery. Both are remembered locally on the War Memorial at Old Leake near Boston in Lincolnshire, which at the time of joining the Army was their home.
After extensive research and hard work by a local researcher into the family tree of the brothers, working with BBC Radio Lincolnshire, they successfully tracked down the closest living relative; Andy Vinter. Identifying the closest living relative is one thing but we still needed to find him. With the use of social media, he was found and contacted but had no idea about the brothers, their war service or the Military Medal.
The final part of the story was live on Radio Lincolnshire as all was told on the ‘Melvyn in the Morning’ show as he dedicated a full hour to the story of the Vinter Brothers and their medals; in the closing moments, Derek’s wish came true as he handed the medals back to the family.
But the closing part of this amazing story is a battlefield tour to France to visit the graves of both Stephen and Charles, this is now planned for the 97th anniversary of Charles’s death during World War One, and will no doubt bring a close to this story for Derek as he lays a poppy wreath in their honour.