Medal of Staffordshire Regiment soldier found in Midlands garden


A British gardening enthusiast has discovered two long-lost World War I medals in his potato patch.

Roger Aston, of Smethwick in the West Midlands, found one German and one British medal.

The latter was awarded to 33-year-old Private Francis Hubball, of the lst Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment.

Private Hubball died in Flanders on 26 October 1917, during the third battle of Ypres. Prior to enlisting he had worked as a cycle polisher in Smethwick. He married his wife, Agnes, in 1907 and went on to have four children – Frances, Harold, Annie and Frank. They lived at 157 Dibble Road, Smethwick.

Aston is keen to find any surviving family members of private Hubball, but has encountered some problems.

‘His last name has also been spelt Hubble in some documents which make it difficult to track his relatives,’ he said. ‘I would love to be able to give the medals back to members of his family before next year’s Centenary.’

Aston thinks the medals may have been buried by local children playing in the area after World War I, but before his house was built in 1939.

‘I suspect private Hubball may have had more medals – whether they’re in the ground or with members of his family I don’t know.

‘I’ve no idea how the German medal ended up there, there are no identifying marks on it other than where it was made so that story ends there.’

Aston’s efforts to track down the soldier’s family have also so far proved fruitless. ‘The most recent record I can find is his youngest daughter married a man called William Henry Chance in 1954, but they disappear off the radar after that.’

Private Hubball is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Flanders – the second-largest Commonwealth cemetery in Belgium.

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