29 December 2023

Historic war medals reclaimed for descendants by Wilkin Chapman

War medals in case

The descendants of a British civil servant who was honoured during World War II and his son, a flight lieutenant, approached us with an unusual proposition: to help retrieve medals of great sentimental value.

The family, who are the rightful descendants of the honours, including a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) and an Order of the British Empire (OBE), had hit an impasse after a self-styled historian had taken the medals from the family - and refused to return them.

Withholding personal property despite repeated requests

The historian heard about the existence of the sought-after honours over the internet, struck up a friendship with the family member currently in charge of their safekeeping and convinced them to hand over the five medals. In addition to the awards, he also took a prized family heirloom (a portrait of the deceased) as well as early video footage of the family.

The problem very quickly became apparent when the rightful owner of the items sought to retrieve them - but was refused at every step. The historian alleged that the assets had been gifted to him, so they were now his property - despite having no immediate personal ties to the family or the original recipient of the honours.

In this case, we successfully presented evidence that proved the self-styled historian had no rightful claim to keep the contested heirlooms - neither academic nor on personal or probate grounds.

We managed to successfully retrieve the medals and return them to their descendants, and the prized portrait and personal family video footage. In addition to this, our client was also awarded full legal costs incurred throughout the trial, amounting to over £10,000.

This was a huge win for the family and an example of how the law and logic can trump even the most determined defendant.

Discounted justice for armed forces personnel

Here at Wilkin Chapman, we work closely with military and armed forces personnel and their families to provide them clear access to dispute resolution and personal injury claims at a potentially discounted rate. 

As a Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award winner, we have a long and proud history of working with forces personnel, their families and veterans and understand the unique legal issues that arise for service personnel. 

We excel in these highly specialist areas such as military pensions, military injury, the forces Help to Buy scheme, and employment law, through to broader areas of family law, Wills, disputes, house sales and purchases.

If you or someone you know are a member of the armed forces seeking advice on a problem that requires expert legal guidance, get in touch with our specialist military law team today. 

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