April 01, 2016 - 2:30 PM
VERNON - A former Vernon man has received plenty of interest from museums wanting to display a collection of war medals he found in an antique desk, but Martin Bokesch is determined to send them home instead.
Bokesch and his wife Jeanne discovered the medals last year, just before Remembrance Day, in an old desk purchased from an antique furniture dealer in Montreal. They put a picture of the medals and call to action on Facebook, where the post went viral.
Since finding the medals, Bokesch and his wife moved from Vernon to New Brunswick, where they’re keeping up the search.
“We’ve narrowed it down to three possible names,” Bokesch says.
Although the box containing the medals was addressed to a J. Nicholls, Bokesch says the recipient of the medals remains a mystery.
What Bokesch does know about the war hero is he served in the Navy, Atlantic Service, in the Second World War. Part of the challenge is there’s no name on the medals themselves.
“The records for the Second World War are a bit unreliable in the sense that the medals were never engraved or had inscriptions as to their actual owners,” Bokesch says.
Bokesch and his wife received numerous tips from the public, and were even contacted from as far away as Australia. Now, with the help of a medal researcher, they feel they have all the information they need — they just have to work with Veterans Affairs to complete the search.
“We have to find out if they (medal recipient) are still living, or if they’re deceased, and if the family is living. Veterans Affairs has rules around these issues, we can’t just go walking in there and ask for the personal information on these three men,” Bokesch says. “We have to discuss with them if they’ll allow us to go into their archives.”
Meanwhile, Bokesch has been approached by several museums interested in displaying the medals.
“A museum in Ontario wants to display them prominently with the story — an unknown sailor kind of thing,” Bokesch says.
He vows to only give them over to a museum after every stone has been overturned.
“At this point I refuse to believe it will end with them in a museum,” he says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016