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We have all been told stories by dealers/vendors of the provenance of items, "it was taken off a dead German" "I got it from a Dead Gerry in Hitlers Bunker" "I have got Guy Gibsons 39-45 star" Etc Etc . Most collectors take these tales with a pinch of salt. Although I have a 2nd Class Iron Cross taken at Liverpool from a survivor of Bismark but that's another (Un-provable) story.

In 1966 I was working in Liverpool City Centre and it was my habit to call into a Sweet and tobacconist shop, I got to know the owner, Harry Foggo, quite well and mentioned that I dabbled in collecting Badges/Medals.

He then informed me that on the outbreak of WW1 he had answered a call by Lord Derby and joined the Liverpool Pals together with his two brothers, being in the first batch of volunteers they had been issued with a silver cap badge consisting of Lord Derby's coat of arms (Eagle and child) Later a bronze badge was issued. Harry was posted to the 17th (Pals)Battalion of the Liverpool Regiment.

He brought the badge in to show me but he also brought a version of the bronze badge, Harry told me the following tale. They had been in a particularly fierce fight and a fellow soldier complained that he had lost his silver badge, Harry was just glad to be alive and was not too bothered about his mates lost badge. A short time later a burial party was organised and Harry was delegated to join it. He said that upon wrapping a body in a blanket he saw the poor victims hat had been thrown in to the shallow grave and sported a Liverpool Pals badge albeit a bronze one. He took the badge for his Chum and, the burials complete, made his way back to his mates only to be informed that a sniper had claimed his badge-less Chum.

Harry also told me that due to his battalion being decimated he was posted to the 4th Battalion with whom he had won a Military Medal for volunteering to swim a river behind German lines and take note of strengths. He also stated that his brother Thomas had won an MM with another Battalion.

I cheekily asked Harry for the Badges and without hesitation he gave me the bronze badge but unsurprisingly he retained the Silver badge.

Many years later whilst at an Antiques fair a long way from Liverpool I noticed a single 14-15 star partially hidden under a carriage clock where it was assisting to support the said clock which was missing a foot, I examined it and was overjoyed to see it was named to my old Chum Harry. I enquired the price which was £1.50 and having listed to the dealer bemoaning the fact he would have to put the 50p piece under the clock, I left with my precious purchase.

I have no doubt that Harry spoke the truth about the manner in which he had obtained the badge but like lots of other items it cannot be attributed. I do not collect non Police items but even so I would not part with the Star or Badge for a Kings Ransom as I can see Harry now in my minds eye behind his counter modestly telling tales of life in the trenches. How I wish I had made notes.

Peter

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I beleive its a real story :) There are a lot of things veterans sometimes go over the top and exagerate, there are a lot of things collectors add to a tale but behind it all is some sort of history that everyone is trying to find.

The story you told doesn't seem that un-beleivable to be true, and honestly I've seen rarer military finds that make you wonder, one of my friends has 2 Russian orders (red stars) to two brothers that he picked up randomely n different parts of the country :) while he was traveling, he researched them later and found out they belonged to the same family :D (born in same village etc)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Graham, just for information I have been supplied with the following details by a fellow Collector : -

Cpl 16809 James Foggo

Pte 16813 Harry Foggo

Pte 16814 Thomas Foggo

All served 18th Battalion of Liverpool (Pals) Regiment. All listed their Father Thomas Foggo Snr at 21 Penrhyn Avenue, Litherland as next of kin.

Harry Foggo is Gazetted with the MM on 14th May 1919 with 4th Battalion. Thomas Foggo is Gazetted with MM on 13th March 1919 with 6th Battalion.

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Hi,

the baseline hobby philosophy of the hobby is "buy the piece, not the story"

having said that, i have soooo many pieces that DO have a story, and it is the story that makes the piece.

I am really into the history and the men behind the pieces, so I put a lot of value on that, and I don't think I am gullible... but there are certain items I have that are rock solid with their stories.

The problem is passing them on one day.... At some stage the story gets lost forever...

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