Grandson of Gallipoli soldier reunited with pin badges after luggage error


Pin badges have been returned to the grandson of a fallen Gallipoli soldier whose luggage was mistakenly taken from a train.

Ian Domingo had been visiting London to take part in the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign in which his grandfather was killed when his suitbag containing badges commemorating service was taken from the Virgin service from Euston.

Elaine Higgins had by sheer coincidence attended the same remembrance ceremony and had travelled back in the same carriage as Mr Domingo but had unwittingly picked up the wrong suitbag and simply put it back in her wardrobe.

Mr Domingo, from Dumfries, contacted British Transport Police (BPT) to report it missing and an appeal was launched to track down the missing bag.

Mrs Higgins from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was tipped off by friends about the missing suit and badges adding she was left "dumbstruck" upon looking in her wardrobe.

Mrs Higgins, whose 18-year-old son Aled Jones was killed in Bosnia in 1996, had attended the remembrance ceremony as part of her involvement with the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA ) Bereaved Families Support Group.

She said: "I immediately felt for Mr Domingo as I had been wearing Aled's medals at the ceremony but took them off my suit - I knew what it would have felt like.

"I was dumbstruck for a moment when I unzipped the bag and then went to tell my husband we had Mr Domingo's suit. I was mortified for him, especially as I knew it had the medals on. We'd just picked it up and put it straight in the wardrobe, not even thinking to check the contents."

She added that she felt obliged to meet Mr Domingo in person to "apologise" adding "we can laugh about it now they're reunited but it must have been awful for him thinking he might not see it or the badges again".

They both praised the work of BTP and the lengths investigating officer Pc Gez Cooper went to get the suit returned.

Mr Domingo said: "I knew straight way from speaking to Pc Cooper that he would leave no stone unturned trying to find my suit. I really can't thank him enough. He went to so much trouble for me."

Pc Cooper added: "It's all in day's work - as a BTP officer the railway is our community and we care about the people who use it."

The Gallipoli land campaign against Turkey was one of the major engagements of the First World War, involving more than 400,000 British and around 140,000 Commonwealth and Irish servicemen.

At dawn on April 25 1915, waves of Allied troops launched an amphibious attack on the strategically important peninsula, which was key to controlling the Dardanelles straits, the crucial route to the Black Sea and Russia.

But the plan backed by Winston Churchill, then first lord of the Admiralty, was flawed and the campaign, which faced a heroic defence by the Turks, led to stalemate and withdrawal eight months later.

Around 58,000 Allied troops died, including 29,500 from Britain and Ireland, over 12,000 from France, 11,000 from Australia and New Zealand and 1,500 from India.