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First World War badge of hero found in field near Canterbury

A poignant lapel badge presented to a hero of the Great War has been discovered in a field.

It was found near Canterbury by metal detecting enthusiast Lee Drummond and bears the inscription ‘The Old Contemptibles Association’, along with a serial number.

The Old Contemptibles Association lapel badge
The Old Contemptibles Association lapel badge

It would have been proudly owned by a member of the British Expeditionary Force, which took part in the desperate battles in France between August 5 and November 22, 1914.

Its soldiers survived being under constant fire from the German forces, before the allies turned the tide of the conflict.

An association was formed in 1925 for men of the BEF - who called themselves the ‘chums’.

It took its name from a notorious Order of the Day issued by the Kaiser in August 1914, which referred to Sir John French’s “contemptible little army”.

Mr Drummond, 53, of Knight Avenue, Canterbury, discovered the badge on farmland at Harbledown and hopes he can reunite it with the owner’s family.

Metal detectorist Lee Drummond
Metal detectorist Lee Drummond

“Each badge has a number which relates to the soldier it was presented to,” he said.

“This one is inscribed 263bB. The trouble is those records are believed to now be lost because the association and their branches have long-folded.”

Mr Drummond says it is one of the most intriguing and emotional finds he has made in 10 years of metal detecting in the Canterbury area.

“As soon as I posted it on our Facebook page, I had offers of £100 from collectors,” he said.

“But wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could find out who this badge belonged to, trace their family and present it to them? I think that would be quite emotional.

“If we draw a blank, I will probably offer it to the Imperial War Museum.”

“Who knows how it got into the field. The landowner says it has been orchards for a long time so perhaps some chap dropped it while out courting.”

Mr Drummond is now consulting with local military history experts and online records in the hope of finding any clues as to who it belonged to.

“If we draw a blank, I will probably offer it to the Imperial War Museum,” he added.

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