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Military medals discovered in Australia and returned to family in Alexandra have links to a famous World War 2 tale.

A Memorial Cross – a medal given to the wives and mothers of servicemen who died during World War 2 – was reportedly discovered in a market in Queensland and identified as belonging to New Zealand serviceman RAF Flight Sergeant Arthur Bennett.

Medals Reunited NZ founder Ian Martyn was engaged to verify the authenticity of the medal and track down relatives to return it to.

Other medals identical to those awarded to Flt Sgt Bennett were also sourced to complete a set for the family.

The search eventually led to Alexandra, and a nephew, Paul Bennett.

For Mr Bennett, the return of his uncles medals was a special moment.

“You know, it’s huge,” he said.

World War 2 Medals awarded to Flight Sergeant Arthur Bennett of the Royal Air Force Coastal Command 200 Squadron. The flight sergeant’s medals have been reunited with family in Alexandra after being discovered in Queens land.
PHOTOS: SHANNON THOMSON

While he could not turn the clock back it was a tangible link to his father and wider family he had never known and filled in some gaps of his history.

In 194,1 Arthur Bennett enlisted as an air force cadet in the Royal Air Force.

He trained in Canada where he qualified as an air gunner a year later and was promoted to sergeant the same day.

Shortly after he was posted to West Africa as a wireless operator-air gunner for 200 Squadron, a coastal command conducting anti-submarine patrols along the Ivory Coast.

Bennett completed 51 operations in Lockheed Hudsons, an American- made light bomber and coastal reconnaissance aircraft before the squadron moved to a a heavier bomber, the B-24 Liberator in 1943.

The first flight in the Liberator was to be his last.

On August 11, 1943 Flt Sgt Bennett and seven other men perished when they attacked U-468, a German submarine on the ocean surface 386km off Dakar.

The Liberator, flown by New Zealander Flying Officer Lloyd Trigg, dived towards the submarine, sustaining fatal damage from enemy fire directly into the plane’s bomber bay.

Undeterred, Fl Offr Trigg continued directly towards the vessel, releasing depth charges moments before the aircraft crashed and exploded alongside the submarine
with devastating effect.

Twenty enemy crew initially survived however after a night in shark infested waters, only six remained – saved by a RAF inflatable dinghy salvaged from the wreckage of the Liberator – then rescued by the HMS Clarkia.

Fl Offr Trigg was later awarded the Victoria Cross, the only serviceman to have been bestowed the medal on the “recommendation” of an enemy.

It was based on the testimony of Klemens Schamong, skipper of U-468 who decades later referred to Fl Offr Trigg as a “gallant fighter”.

The remainder of the Liberator crew were never recognised in the same way.