CAPTION: Rosemary Codde with a photo of her late father-in-law William Codde and a notebook with his memories of WW1 PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON
By Beckie Wilson
Rosemary Codde remembers her late husband’s devastation when he discovered his father’s World War 1 medals were stolen during a daytime burglary.
Now Mrs Codde is calling for the return of the medals so she can pass them onto her sons, as her husband would have before he died in September last year.
Last March, six weeks after her husband Larry Codde was diagnosed with terminal cancer, their rural Carterton property was burgled.
Among the items that were stolen was her father-in-law William Coddes’s British war medals, including a Military Medal, Victory Medal, and a War Medal.
After Larry Codde’s diagnosis, the couple who had three sons and been together for 36 years, decided to finally get married – only a week before the burglary.
Mrs Codde’s wedding ring was also stolen.
“It would be nice to get the wedding ring back, but [the medals] are irreplaceable.”
“[Larry] was upset that he wasn’t able to pass them on to his children… they have a lot of sentimental value to us,” she said.
Mr Codde was away on a final trip with his friends in the South Island when their family home was broken in to.
“It was the 7th of March, I was at work and came home to find the door open and the place was trashed,” she said.
“I was really quite distraught, my husband was away and we knew he was sick,” she said.
The items were only “things” but were significant to her family, she said.
Months after, police recovered a few items during warranted house searches, but no trace of the medals.
William Codde was in the Hood Battalion, a naval division, but was taken to fight in the army in 1914.
While holding both naval and army ranks he fought battles including the Battle of Passchendaele, The Action at Welsh Ridge and in the Somme Battlefields.
He was awarded the British Military Medal in 1918 at the age of 20. After the war ended he set voyage away from England.
“The family history is he thought he was getting on a boat to Canada but ended up here in New Zealand – I don’t know how that could happen but that’s the family story,” she said.
“He came to the Wairarapa eventually and worked down in South Wairarapa, then he met my mother-in-law and they got married.”
They later bought a Carterton property and had a poultry farm for many years.
William Codde, who was suffering with Parkinson’s disease for many years, died in 1985 aged 87. His wife Helen died 14 years later.
He kept “meticulous” records of his time in the war and preserved the items he bought back with him.
“I just think, the family kept [the medals] safe for 100 years, they came out from England, they lived through the 1942 Wairarapa earthquake, minding their own business, and someone just takes them – they mean nothing to them.”
The three medals were in a glass frame, “the ribbons were a bit faded but were in perfection condition”. Engraved around the edge of the Military Medal is W.F. Codde.
Mrs Codde goes to an Anzac service each year, and hopes that this year she will be able to hand down the medals to her sons.
“But I’m not sure the people who took it would have much of a conscious.”