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William Birch joined the Palestine Police c. 1930 as Constable 720. He was later  joined  by his Fiancee Margaret Gettle ( altered from the German Goetel during WW1) and they were married in Palestine c. 1935 and adopted the Colonial lifestyle. They did not have children.

On the 1st October 1938, William was leading a patrol in Ramallah when they were fired upon and Willam Killed. He was buried with full Military Honours on Mount Zion, Jerusalem. His widow returned to her home Town Liverpool, England where she died many years later, she did not re marry.

Three Arabs stood trial on 14th of October, 1938 and sentenced to death by hanging, Izzat Hussein  Abdul Ramhman aged 30, Ali Yusef Ahmed aged 28 and Hassan Abdul Muti aged 29 from Beir Nabala near Ramallah. All three were found in a house with rifles and I am not sure if they were sentenced for the murder or their possession of the rifles. They were duly executed

The above story was related to me by an elderly lady who was related to Margaret. She had in her possession a solid silver sports medal named to William, I enquired the whereabouts of his General Service Medal and was informed that the Family had no knowledge. I made enquiries with the Worcester medal office and was informed that the medal remained unclaimed. An application for the medal was made on 17th June 2005 and turned into a saga, the outcome being that my elderly friend(now deceased) was too distant a relation and as no other family remained the application was refused.

And so Williams medal remains on a shelf and the only testament to his service and sacrifice is a humble sports medal, which is coveted in my collection

 

 

Birch Medal 3.jpg

Birch Medal 5.png

W Birch 1.jpg

W. Birch 2.jpg

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Thanks for sharing this sad tale Peter. What a shame that the late Mrs. Birch did not claim his GSM. The authorities, I believe, have to share a degree of blame in that someone should have ensured that she was properly advised as to her entitlement. Alas, too late now..........

Dave.

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Hello Dave,

Yes indeed, too late now but in more ways than one I am afraid. Some time ago I read that Government had decided that all unclaimed medals held by the various services were to be destroyed by melting and that all monies from the smelting of these medals would go to the Exchequer. I  immediately wrote to the Army Medal office at Worcester , now the Tri Service medal Office, asking that my comments be forwarded to the correct authority. (This letter remains unanswered) Realising that to try and reason  with government Departments is like trying to empty the Atlantic with a spoon I took the path of pointing out the price of scrap silver against the price of selling the medals to collectors. These medals would include Peninsula War &  Battle of Waterloo participants, Men who took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade, Rorkes Drift Defenders, Defenders at Mafeking not to mention  members of the ill-fated Franklin expedition and so on right up to WWII Etc Etc. Many thousands of pounds could be raised from the scrap silver but I would vouchsafe that the result of a sale to collectors would reap millions for the Country.   So I suppose the refusal to issue  William's GSM pales against the scale of damage wrought by such an act of institutional vandalism. Madness utter Madness.

Peter

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Peter,

It was worth a try, but (as you say yourself) attempting to deal with faceless civil servants in circumstances such as these is like peeing in the wind. Nothing will divert them from a decision already made. I'll wager that you were not alone in pointing out the folly of the proposed action. What compounds the situation is that no one did (or even to-day does) anything to trace living relatives. They simply sit there waiting for someone to "claim" the medals. So, sad.

Dave. 

 

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