GOOD NEWS
06/06/2012 05:22 pm ET | Updated Jun 06, 2012

Martin Robson Riley, Historian, Finds Grandfather's Missing World War I Medal On eBay After More Than 30 Years

A World War I medal that disappeared 31 years ago has been gifted to the late soldier's grandson -- after he spotted it being sold on eBay for $1.50, BBC News reports.

Historian Martin Robson Riley from the United Kingdom said that he had always hoped to find the Victory Medal, which had been awarded to his grandfather, Private Henry Riley, at the end of the First World War.

The medal had been discovered missing in 1981 from Riley's grandmother's home in Birmingham, England.

Riley said it is unknown as to whether the medal was sold, stolen or given away.

Riley, 45, never met his grandfather but he told Wales Online that he has actively tried to learn more about his heroic forebear through online research.

“I had written to the Regimental Museum but couldn’t find out much about my grandfather’s service,” he said. “Every now and then I’d join the Great War forum and type his name into an Internet search, half hoping that his medals might turn up one day. With there being six million issued, I suppose I thought the odds were very slim.”

According to the Daily Express, it was one of these Internet searches that finally led Riley to his grandfather's long-lost medal.

"Up this medal popped with his name, HW Riley and his Army number. I couldn't believe it," said Riley, who found the medal after typing "Riley, medal" into eBay's search engine.

The starting bid for the medal on the online auction site was about $1.50.

"I emailed the seller immediately to explain who my grandfather was and to make an offer. I would have been more than willing to pay for it," Riley, who works for the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, told Wales Online.

“The seller, a dealer, sent me the medal for free, saying I had more of a claim to it than anyone. I can’t thank him enough for his kindness. He wouldn’t even accept an offer to pay the postage.”

Riley's grandfather had served with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry on the Western Front from 1916. He served in the battle of Arras in 1917, the BBC reports.

After the war ended, Pvt. Henry Riley -- who had been hospitalized for his injuries -- returned to the army and served with the British forces who occupied the Rhine. Tragically, the soldier became quite sick after returning home and ultimately took his own life at the age of 28.

“[This medal is] a link to my family history and to the tragic story of what my grandfather had been through,” Riley said, adding that finding the medal has been a "wonderful" experience.

According to Wales Online, a second war medal was also discovered to be lost in 1981 and is still missing. Riley said he has hope that it will one day also be found.

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