Grandad's war medals sought

By Liz Wylie

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Rifleman Thomas Cannon served in two world wars but where are his medals?
Rifleman Thomas Cannon served in two world wars but where are his medals?

Thomas Birkby Cannon of Whanganui served in two world wars and was awarded five medals.

Now his granddaughter, Lorraine Cannon would like to know what has become of them.

It all started when she contacted the late Wendy Pettigrew, former chairwoman of the Whanganui Regional Heritage Trust.

"Wendy helped me send grandad's photo for publication in the Onward Project and I got an email from one of the publishers to say he knew a collector who had the medals."

When she tried to make contact with the Whanganui collector, Ms Cannon discovered that he had died and his widow did not know what had become of the medals.

"I think they may have been sold online and might even have gone to an overseas collector," said Ms Cannon.

"I would really like to know where they ended up and bring them back to the family if I can."

Thomas Cannon was 19 when he enlisted for WWI and his occupation was recorded as mechanic.

He became a rifleman in the Expeditionary Forces and would be awarded the 1914-15 star, the British war medal and the Victory medal.

He returned to Whanganui after the war and married Anastasia Symons.

The couple had five children and one who died in infancy (Ms Cannon is the daughter of their only surviving son).

When WWII was declared, Thomas Cannon would enlist again although he was in his late 40s.

"He didn't serve overseas in the second war because of his age but he was awarded two more medals," said his granddaughter.

A photo of her grandfather, taken after WWII shows him wearing his WWI medals as well as the 1939-45 war medal and the NZ regular war service medal for WWII service.

Ms Cannon said all the medals will be engraved with her grandfather's service number 24/1347.

"I was only 10 when he died so I wasn't thinking about his war service or medals then but I have become very interested in recent years," she said.

The Onward Project seeks to locate and publish a photograph of every member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who served overseas during WWI.

Three volumes have been published and a fourth volume is due for publication next year. Anyone wishing to submit photos can find information at fairdinkumbooks.com.

If anyone has any info, please contact the Chronicle.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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