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Industrial Warfare Forums (1861 AD - 1945 AD) => World War I Forum (1914 AD - 1918 AD) => Topic started by: Benjamin Breeg on February 10, 2009, 08:21:51 PM

Title: Amateur history enthusiast saves a First World War revolver
Post by: Benjamin Breeg on February 10, 2009, 08:21:51 PM
For years it gathered dust maybe in an attic or a shed somewhere, possibly in a box on top of somebody's wardrobe.
Somehow, a First World War pistol was scooped up in a pile of clothes and handed into a charity shop.
Now, the gun a prized possession of Captain Hugh Winfield Sayres, who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme is finding a new home in a museum.
The discovery of the pistol a Wilkinson Webley revolver was made when staff at the Earl Shilton shop rummaged through a bag of old clothes.
They immediately called in Leicestershire police who sent in their weapons team to retrieve it.

Normally, the working gun would have been deactivated and dismantled, but after hearing of the discovery, amateur history enthusiast Sergeant Rich Matlock, of Loughborough police station, stepped in to save it.

He said: "I found out about it through a chance conversation with our firearms officers. It's a remarkable story, and every time I look deeper into it, it comes up gold."
His investigation unearthed the story of a dedicated officer, with a distinguished military career, who fought and fell alongside the men he led.

Sgt Matlock discovered that Captain Sayres was born in 1888 and came from London. He joined the Army as a "gentleman cadet" in 1909. After passing out at Sandhurst, Sayres joined the Lancashire Fusiliers.

The gun was bought privately in 1912 at Wilkinson Firearms, in London's Pall Mall, and inscribed with his name.
Capt Sayres was posted to India in 1912 and in 1915 was shot in the right shoulder while landing in Gallipoli.

After recovering, he was posted to France and promoted to acting major, but asked to return to his battalion as a captain so he could fight with his soldiers.
Aged 27, he was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme July 1, 1916 with his dog, Nailer.

Sgt Matlock said: "He could have remained an acting major but chose to return to his men and was sent 'over the top' at Beaumont Hamel in the mistaken belief that the Germans posed little threat.
"Of course, the opposite was true and 19,000 men died that day. All his affects, including his gun, would have been sent home to his family who had it engraved again, this time in his memory.

"It is unusual for a gun to have been used in Gallipoli and at the Battle of the Somme, which is what makes it so rare."
Sgt Matlock will never know why the gun was handed in to the shop, or how it ended up in Leicestershire.

Later this month it will be presented along with all Sgt Matlock's research and photographs to the Lancashire Fusilier Museum, in Bury.
Curator Lieutenant Colonel Michael Glover said it would take pride of place in the collection.

He said: "The key thing for us is that regimental museums are about the people who served, not the war.
"It is part of the magic of the museum game that items turn up from the most obscure places."


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