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Description

This collection was contributed by a student from St Joseph's Roman Catholic High School, Newport, as part of a project on War and Remembrance.

These medals were awarded to four of my relatives. I got the medals and information about them from my ‘Grancha’ (grandad) Jeffrey Wood.

• George Wood is my Grancha’s dad, so my great-grandfather. His medals are at the bottom left.
• Patrick Fitzpatrick is my grandma’s father, so also my great-grandfather. His medal are on the bottom right.
• Frank Wood is George Wood’s dad, so my great-great-grandfather, his medals are at the top right of the photo.
• Richard Beal is my Grancha’s other grandfather, so my other great-great-grandfather. His medals are at the top left.

World War 1 medals – top row, left to right

Richard Beal was in the British Merchant Navy until 1916. While in the port of Montreal he left the ship and joined the Canadian Army and was sent to France. He served a number of battles with the Canadians and was at the battle for Vimmy Ridge at the Battle of Arras. He survived the war and resumed his life in the Merchant Navy.

Frank Wood joined the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry in 1914. He served the first two years of the war guarding a prisoner of war camp in Shropshire, but the huge loss of life on the Western Front meant that in 1916 he was sent to France to fight. He was at the Battle of the Somme and at the Battle of Arras. In 1917, at the Battle of Arras, he received a shrapnel would which became infected and he was sent back to the UK for treatment. The injury left him deaf in his right ear for the rest of his life and after treatment he was sent home to his wife, Alice, who had spent the war working in a munitions factory in Newport.

World War 2 medals – bottom row, left to right

George Wood was conscripted into the Royal Navy in 1939. He was on a British Destroyer at Dunkirk bringing home the British Expeditionary Force. He was then transferred to another ship and served on ship convoy escort duty in the battle of the Atlantic. He was mentioned in dispatches for his actions in the British and French attempts to take the port of Dakar, but when transferred to rescue troops on the Island of Crete his ship was sunk by enemy bombs and George was badly injured. He was found floating on a door unconscious, badly burned and covered in black fuel oil. He was sent to two military hospitals and when recovered, sent back to sea in the battle of the Atlantic. He survived the war. His wife Patricia had served throughout the war in the Newport Gun Factory, working as a fitter and turner making breach blocks for anti-aircraft guns.

Patrick Reginald Fitzpatrick was conscripted into the army. He served on the Home Front with the Royal Artillery guarding the anchorage at Scapa Flow in the Shetlands. He was then transferred to the British First Army and sent to North Africa to fight the war. He was then in the invasion of Italy and fought his way up through Italy against intense German and Italian opposition and was part of the force who liberated Rome. Towards the end of the War his company fought their way into an area where they came across a Concentration Camp. The situation he came across in the camp, as well as years of battle, had left him traumatised. He was hospitalised and sent home to Newport in ill health. His wife Nora had spent the war working in a Newport Company recycling metal for the war effort.

After the First World War, Richard Beal and Frank Wood spoke very little about their experiences. They did not keep their medals or take part in any war reunions. As a result, some of the World War One medals shown here are replicas to replace the originals. All the World War Two medals shown here are original. All men, both First and Second World War, have evidence of the awards on their military records.

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