The family of a soldier killed in World War I are set to be reunited with a second long-lost medal.
In a bizarre twist, a second medal has been dug up on a property on Auckland's North Shore, not far from where the first one was discovered 40 years ago.
On the recent centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, the Herald reported how the family of Albert Everitt, who died on the Western Front aged just 20, had been reunited with a medal that North Shore man Roger McKinlay found in his garden 40 years ago.
That story was passed onto Andrew Dare, who about 20 years ago had also found a WWI gallantry medal that had been awarded to Everitt.
Dare found the medal when he was preparing a garden around the back steps of his parents' Murrays Bay home. The property is about 8km from where McKinlay found Everitt's gallantry medal in the 1970s when he was digging a trench on his Glenfield property.
Dare, like McKinlay, stopped when his spade struck something metallic. He found a mud-covered, oxidised bronze medal. It was a Victory Medal, inscribed "The Great War for Civilisation" and it belonged to Everitt.
Dare asked around but nobody had heard of the Everitts. Enquiries at the local RSA came up empty. Military files revealed that Everitt had died on the Western Front in June, 1918, aged just 20.
"The trail ran cold and I didn't think I'd ever find out who the next of kin were," said Dare, a 44-year-old molecular biologist.
The medal sat in a drawer. Each Anzac Day, he took it with him to the dawn service.
"I felt that there was this guy, who I didn't know but who had died at 20, a tragically young age to die for virtually nothing," said Dare.
"So I felt that I owed him the remembrance but always thought he must have family somewhere out there."
On October 12, the anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, the Herald revealed McKinlay's story of Everitt's lost military medal.
McKinlay had contacted Nelson veteran Ian Martyn, who specialises in reuniting medals with families.
He tracked down Everitt's great-nephews - brothers Tony and Terry Everitt.
They were stunned to hear of their great-uncle's war exploits. Until then, they never knew that chapter of their family history.
Now, the Everitt brothers are amazed and humbled yet another medal has surfaced.
"[It] sort of restores your faith in mankind," Tony Everitt said.
But just how did the medals come to be buried 8km apart on the North Shore?
Martyn has a theory. The Everitt family house after the war was at 120 Nelson St in central Auckland, near today's Northern Motorway onramp.
But when that property was demolished as part of the town centre's expansion, Martyn believes topsoil was taken from the area and used in housing developments on the North Shore.
Dare is glad the medal that sat in his drawer for two decades, has found its way home.
"It's incredible really," he says. "This is pretty special."
ALBERT EVERITT MM
Te Aroha cheesemaker Albert Everitt won the Military Medal for acts of gallantry at the Battle of Passchendaele.
His citation reads: "For conspicuous good work during the attack on Passchendaele Ridge on the 12th October 1917. He took a prominent part in the fighting for the enemy's strong point known as the Cemetery, and afterwards made valuable reconnaissances under conditions of difficulty and great danger."
But on June 7, 1918 in France, Everitt was mortally wounded by gunshots to his head, chest and right thigh. He was 20 years old.
May Everitt received her son's Military Medal at a ceremony at Auckland Town Hall in June 1919.