War medals and family photos unearthed at a Calgary Goodwill location won’t be re-sold and now they’re looking for the rightful owners.
Lorna Schnepf, retail and processing manager for Goodwill’s TransCanada location, said she believes the donation came in from the organization’s Bow Trail location.
The World War Two decorations was in a small cedar box, Schnepf said, and she was immediately alerted to it when it found its way to their northeast Calgary shop.
“As soon as I’d seen that, we’re all aware that there’s no way we would sell something of that sort,” Schnepf told LiveWire Calgary.
“There’s no way to profit off of somebody’s history.”
Looking closely at the pictures, the name on one of the Goodwill medals is Sgt. R.W. Finch. There are 14 war decorations that came in the donation, along with photos of the family, including what look like newspaper clippings at the time showing one member killed in action.
Calgary Military Museums offers more information on the medals
LiveWire requested further information on the type of medals shown in the photographs. Here’s a response from the Military Museums:
“Below are identifications of the various medals from James Morgan, a specialist and appraiser in FWW history and militarily who works for the PPCLI Museum & Archives as a part-time contractor.
The answers are placed in position to align with the four-row placement of the items in the photos going left to right in each row. Individual photos showing the medals’ details may garner better answers for those that we have not been able to identify.
The medals are also likely marked with the individual’s name either on the bottom or back, which may help identify the difference of the two 1939-45 Stars, as they likely would not have been awarded to the same individual.
They look like they may be different medals because the separated ribbons have been flipped in different directions, but are in fact the same medal.
1st Row- 1. Canadian Volunteer Service Medal 2. Memorial Cross 3. Fort Garry Horse Cap Badge
2nd Row– 1. Atlantic Star 2. 1939-45 Star 3. 1939-45 War Medal
3rd Row– 1. CVSM with Overseas Clasp 2.1939-45 Star 3. Volunteer Medal
4th Row- 1. Unknown Star, because there is no ribbon and it can’t be read 2. Unknown 3. 1939-45 War Medal”
Goodwill medals: Sgt. R.W. Finch belonged to Fort Garry Horse Unit
A search shows that one of the medals belongs to Sergeant Robert William Finch, who belonged to the Fort Garry Horse Unit of A Squadron, 10th Armoured Regiment. He was buried at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands.
Others online have connected the medals to Helen Carole Finch Scott, believed to be the daughter of R.W. Finch.
Schnepf believes the pictures likely came from Helen.
“I did receive many pictures from her family, and then in there I would find the picture that I know it’s her dad and she’s sitting on his knee in one the pictures,” Schnepf said.
Goodwill has now put out the call on their social media channels, hoping to raise awareness and find the family.
Schnepf said this is a unique item for them to receive mainly because for many families there’s a sentimental connection. She’s just not sure if the family was aware these historic items were hidden away in a box.
“I guess I wonder if it was something that she’d had packed up with pictures and who knows who was going through and donating,” Schnepf said.
“We get a lot of donations if somebody passes away and the family members are cleaning. So I don’t know if they ever opened the little box.”
She hopes they can find the owners prior to upcoming Remembrance Day ceremonies. If they’re unable to located the owners, they’ll likely be donated to the Military Museums, Schnepf said.