René Doyharçabal thought a medal that honoured his family's military service was gone for good after he lost it at a recent Remembrance Day ceremony. He's glad to the anonymous person who turned it in to the RCMP.

Lost medal restored to Langley man

A military memento is back in a Langley home thanks to an anonymous helper.

The loss of a medal stung because of its deep meaning to a Langley man’s family history.

Fortunately, the story of René Doyharçabal’s missing medal had a happy ending, thanks to a Langley RCMP officer and an alert member of the public.

Doyharçabal briefly served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the early 1950s, but he dismisses that work.

“My personal military service was virtually nothing,” he said.

Though he trained on Harvards, a medical condition meant he couldn’t continue flying in the military.

But Doyharçabal has always taken Remembrance Day seriously, due not just to his own service but to that of his father and grandfather, and his wife’s relatives.

Both his father and his grandfather were in the French Army during the First World War.

His grandfather, Joseph Cayla, spent 18 months in the trenches at Verdun, while his father St. Martin Doyharçabal was an army cook.

After the war the family moved to Canada, where Doyharçabal was born. Other relatives stayed behind, including one woman who helped smuggle downed Allied troops out of Nazi-occupied France and into Spain.

Back in Vancouver, Doyharçabal’s parents were local supporters of the Free French forces during the Second World War.

In their honour, when he attends Remembrance Day ceremonies, Doyharçabal wears a commemorative Free French medal.

“It’s a commemoration to their military action, you might say,” he said.

The medal commemorates those who supported the Free French.It reads France Libre – 18 Juin 1940 – 8 Mai 1945, covering the time between the fall of France and the end of the war in Europe.

Doyharçabal and his wife were near the back of the crowd when they attended the Fort Langley Remembrance Day ceremonies, and it wasn’t until they were leaving that he noticed the medal was missing.

“I felt absolutely crestfallen,” Doyharçabal said. “It was a real blow.

The couple searched for it between their spot at the ceremony and back to their car without successfully finding it.

On their way out, they told an RCMP officer about the loss.

“She was obviously very concerned,” said Doyharçabal. “I guess she realized that this thing was such an important link to the family.”

Although he never expected to see it again, it was just a week before the call came from the Langley RCMP. Someone had found the medal near the church parking lot. The same RCMP officer who had taken its description dropped it off at Doyharçabal’s home.

“Which I thought was another exceptional thing,” he said.

The medal has rejoined his grandfather’s Croix de Guerre and other medals and souveniers in the small collection of family artifacts at the Doyharçabal home.

“We are so fortunate to be living in this wonderful place called Langley where such considerate people live,” Doyharçabal wrote in a letter to the Langley Advance. “Both the person who found the medal and the RCMP member showed that thoughtfulness, kindness, and love of fellow humans is very prominent here.”


Just Posted

Cloverdale nurse, Langley truck driver awarded for saving a police officer’s life

Angela Feltrin and Earl Hanes thanked by B.C. RCMP’s top cop

Annual Aldergrove Fair announces 2019 theme: ‘Aldy on the Moon’

The fair is gathering space memorabilia as well as some of the people involved in the space program.

Aldergrove’s Fraser Highway to unveil another Starbucks

A commercial building on Fraser Highway will open its doors to two businesses instead of one.

Former Surrey mayor Bill Vogel dead at age 87

Vogel was Surrey’s 31st mayor, in the big chair from 1978 to 1980, and was alderman from 1973 to 1977

Langley woman’s caregivers pen unflinching book about her struggles

The authors and the woman they care for will be at an Abbotsford book signing on Saturday, Feb. 16.

VIDEO: How much snow do you have?

Langley residents are being asked to share images of their snow to enter for a $20 coffee card.

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Mayors approve SkyTrain extension to UBC

Next step is a business plan and public consultation

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Police track armed kidnapping across Thompson-Okanagan

RCMP allege it was a targeted crime believed to be linked to the drug trade

St. Paul’s Hospital replacement slated to open in Vancouver in 2026

Announced many times, but this time there’s money, Adrian Dix says

Fourteen ‘dream’ homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt

Sinkholes throughout the subdivision have prompted the District of Sechelt to issue evacuation orders

Most Read