Brave Fred's medals will stay in Ipswich

A CLANDESTINE operation by civic leaders and The Evening Star has today ensured priceless medals awarded to an Ipswich-born war hero will forever remain in Suffolk.

A CLANDESTINE operation by civic leaders and The Evening Star has today ensured priceless medals awarded to an Ipswich-born war hero will forever remain in Suffolk.

Fred Pratt's infinite bravery was recognised with eight medals after he courageously served his country in three wars - the Boer War, the First World War and the Second World War.

His collection was auctioned at Spink in Bloomsbury, London as part of a £30,000 collection of First World War medals put up for sale by an unknown collector.

After Mr Pratt's amazing story was printed in the Star and amid fears that a piece of Ipswich's history could be lost, the borough council stepped in and secured the medals for £840 - double what they were expected to sell for.

Judy Terry, Ipswich Borough Council's arts, culture and leisure chief, said she was delighted at the news.

“It's very important that we should respect our armed forces, particularly at this time when we have our troops away at war,” she said.

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“These medals will form the centre piece of an exhibition which will link in with remembrance day later this year.

“In the meantime, I will ask for them to be put on display in the Town Hall Galleries.”

Mr Pratt joined the Royal Engineers at the age of 17 in 1898 and a year later he was fighting in the Boer War in South Africa.

He then served as company sergeant major with the 4th Signal Company Royal Engineers during the First World War and was on the Western Front from August 22, 1914 just a fortnight after Britain had declared war on Germany.

When he was in his late 50s and too old to fight in the Second World War, he joined the Home Guard, which later became known as Dad's Army.

Little is known of Mr Pratt's life, other than he was the son of a fishmonger, he worked as a shoemaker and he was born in Ipswich in 1881 in Fore Hamlet in the town.

His collection of medals included the Meritorious Service Medal, his 1914 Star with Bar, and his King's South Africa medal.

Star editor Nigel Pickover said: “We couldn't lose these wonderful medals and I'm delighted they have been secured.

“They make up a very special part of Ipswich's history.

“The borough council will ensure they are displayed allowing the public to discover the story of the man who fought in three wars for Ipswich, Suffolk and Britain.”

Do you have more information about Mr Pratt? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

IPSWICH'S successful capture of Fred Pratt's war medals follows news that a new plaque listing the names of those killed in conflict will be displayed in Christchurch Park.

The plaque will be place near to another which lists the names of those killed in the First and Second World Wars.

A handful of fallen soldiers will be remembered, including two from the Korean war, one from Northern Ireland, one from Cyprus and, more recently, Private Aaron McClure who died in Afghanistan last year.

Should Ipswich suffer future losses, those names will also be added to the cenotaph as well.

The Royal British Legion and Ipswich Borough Council are organising the new plaque in time for Remembrance Day.

BOER WAR

There were two Boer wars, one ran from December 1880 to March 1881 and the second from October 1899 to May 1902. Both were fought between the British and the settlers of Dutch origin (called Boere, Afrikaners or Voortrekkers) who lived in South Africa.

These wars put an end to the two independent republics that they had founded.

The Boer republics became part of the British Empire but the Boers were given £3m in compensation and were promised self-government in time (the Union of South Africa was established in 1910).

FIRST WORLD WAR

The First World War was the first war to be fought on three continents and raged from 1914 until 1918 resulting in the deaths of millions of men and women.

During the summer and autumn of 1914 France lost as many men on the battlefield as the US Army would lose in the whole of the 20th century.

SECOND WORLD WAR

Fought between 1939 and 1945 the war began when the Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The war cost 55 million lives.

It was fought on the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Pacific, and in four major land campaigns, in the Soviet Union, North Africa and the Mediterranean, Western Europe and the Far East. The war against Japan was fought over two thirds of the world's surface, with America and her allies taking part in vast air, land and sea battles.

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