Rachel Rogge can't stop thinking about a man.

She has a picture of William George Brown in her head but would love to know more about the World War I soldier whose medal has found its way into her home.

Ms Rogge was cleaning out the old china cabinet late last year when she stumbled across the medal. It was in a tin with a few pennies and other nick-nacks.

"I thought this looks interesting."


She speculates that her grandmother could have found the medal in a pocket of a jacket from the op-shop and put it in the cabinet for safe keeping. The cabinet was passed down the family to her mother and now sits in Ms Rogge's Napier home. The medal could have been tucked away in the cabinet for years.

Curious about Mr Brown, she turned to Google, The Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Genealogy Society.

William George Brown was a temporary lance corporal in the 2nd battalion of the Auckland Regiment.

He was decorated with the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of a party of stretcher-bearers.

He worked fearlessly and continuously in no man's land and on the front line under heavy fire, an honour roll states. Although wounded, he continued to tend to other soldiers until the completion of his duty. Mr Brown also received the Military Medal for his service as a sergeant in the New Zealand Cyclist Corp.

In November 1918, he took a patrol to Givry, which at the time was more than four metres beyond the front line. His mission was to report on roads, railways and river crossings to Givry, all while under heavy fire.

The men carved out their job and Mr Brown's "extrication of his men in the face of machine gun fire was a masterly piece of leadership".

He also received the British War and Victory Medal.


Ms Rogge's stack of paper steadily grew as she compiled information.

"I was just curious, who would not want a medal of a brave soldier, it's all a big mystery," she said.

Mr Brown was born in Hawera in 1889. He married Janet Matilda Shearer in Taranaki in 1911. The couple moved to Auckland where Mr Brown was conscripted. The marriage appears to have fallen over and Mr Brown settled in Waipukurau after the war.

On March 23, 1929, The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Brown was "found dead".

The 39-year-old labourer had gone out to milk the cows at 6am at his Hatuma home. It reported that his wife rose an hour later and found him dead in the separator house. Ms Rogge believes the paper was mistaken, and it was his housekeeper that found him. Mr Brown now lies in an unmarked grave at Waipukurau Cemetery

Ms Rogge tried to trace Mr Brown's ancestors but it seems he never had any children. However, she hopes there are great nieces or nephews out there who she can return the medal to.

"It would be wonderful to give it back to his family ... especially with the 100 year coming up."