Appeal to trace owner of WWI hero’s medals

The medals awarded to Sjt John Keith.
The medals awarded to Sjt John Keith.

An appeal has been issued for help in tracing the rightful owner of a set of World War One medals.

Portadown’s own Military Cross winner Doug Beattie MLA is asking for help in returning medals belonging to Sjt John Keith to his relatives.

Doug Beattie MC MLA. Pic by Press Eye

Doug Beattie MC MLA. Pic by Press Eye

Mr Beattie said, ““They don’t look like much; a set of four First World War medals which have fallen into disrepair and have probably been long forgotten.

“These medals were brought to me by Sean Hagans, a solicitor at JPH Law and information on the medals was provided by Richard Edgar, Author and historian. They are a record of the courage and service of a Portadown man during the great war and something that must and should be cherished.

“Therefore this is an appeal to anyone related to John Keith from Hampton Terrace, Portadown to come forward and claim their relatives medals.

“14391 Serjeant John Keith enlisted in the 3rd Battalion (Militia), Princess Victoria’s Royal Irish Fusiliers on 11th May, 1908, and was discharged on completion of his engagement on 10th May, 1914. However, on the outbreak of war he reenlisted into the 9th (Service Battalion) The Royal Irish Fusiliers, one of the first batch of volunteers from Portadown to enlist.

“After training at Clandeboye Sjt Keith left with the 36th Ulster Division for France where – amongst other actions - he fought on the first day of The Somme where he received a bullet wound to the face. He was to be wounded for a second time in 1916 near the River Douve but survived the war.

“Sjt John Keith was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the War medal and the Victory medal. He was only one of four soldiers from the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers to be awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) which was gazetted on 18th January 1919.

“John lived at 83 Hampton Terrace, Portadown. He was the son of Jane Keith and the brother of Lilly, Thomas and Mabel Keith. If anyone has any information that can reunited these medals to the family of Sjt John Keith please contact my constituency office on 028 38 350004 or email me on doug.beattie@mla.niassembly.gov.uk.

“The record of service by this young man during the Great War is best remembered by those who knew of him and his family. These medals may not explain all of the hardships John may have suffered or the life he lived before and after the war but they are a lasting record of one Portadown man’s courageous service to his country.”

Note: Sjt is the abbreviation of Serjeant which is the traditional way to spell Sergeant on decree of Queen Victoria.