Medals from fallen WWII soldier given to Calgary granddaughter after being found in Goodwill donations

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Medals from fallen WWII soldier given to Calgary granddaughter after being found in Goodwill donations
WATCH: War medals that were found in a pile of Goodwill donations in Calgary last week have been returned to the soldier’s family. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the granddaughter of a soldier who died in the Second World War says she’s overwhelmed with seeing the box of photos and medals she never knew existed – Nov 3, 2019

Medals that were found in a donation pile at a Calgary Goodwill store have been returned to the fallen soldier’s family.

Last week, an employee was sorting through donations and found the medals and old family photographs in a box. Goodwill management took to social media to try to track down family members on Friday.

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One of the medals was a Memorial Cross, which is given to families of fallen soldiers who died in service, bearing the name Sgt. R.W. Finch. Finch was a part of Fort Garry Horse, a Canadian Army Reserve armoured regiment based out of Winnipeg.

Messages pour in

Lorna Schnepf, the manager of the TransCanada Centre Goodwill store, said once word got out on Friday, messages poured in from across the country from people wanting to offer information to help find family members.

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On Friday night, one was found.

Tracey Scott is a granddaughter of Finch.

“A family friend messaged me and said, ‘What’s your mom’s maiden name?’ I said, ‘Finch.’ And she went, ‘Oh my God, there’s a story about Robert Finch’s medals being donated.’ I went to the story and saw my grandmother and my grandfather and my mom staring back at me,” Scott said.

A photo of Robert Finch, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Helen, and the Memorial Cross. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

On Sunday, Scott went to the Calgary Goodwill store to retrieve the box of items she never knew existed.

“Honestly, neither my mom or my grandmother ever mentioned they had them somewhere,” Scott said

Scott’s hands were trembling as she held onto photos of her grandmother, grandfather and mom, and the medal given to the young widow.

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Finch is buried at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands, a place Scott visited with her grandmother in 1995.

“The trip to the Netherlands was an eye-opener for me because the way they celebrate and the way they remember is amazing. All I ever heard when I was there was, ‘Thank you, Canada. Thank you for your grandfather’s service,'” Scott said.

Faces to Graves

The discovery of the photos will also help a Dutch organization that wants to put a face to all the Canadian graves in the war cemetery.

“There is an organization called Faces to Graves in Holland that is looking to do a face for each of the Canadian graves in there. So if they didn’t have that face after this week, we now have one more face for one of the heroes over in Holland,” said Glenn Miller, a volunteer with the Canadian Fallen Heroes Foundation, which helped track down Finch’s family.

“The Dutch students really appreciate their freedom. And to always have a face to a name tells that story better when you’re looking at a set of eyes back at you.”

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Scott’s grandmother and mom died a few years ago. She has no idea how the photos and medals wound up where they did. Those touched by this story are just thankful the box of memories has been saved to help keep a war hero’s story alive.

“If it wasn’t for them, especially in World War II, we would not be the same as we are here in Canada,” said Schnepf.

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