A FIRST World War medal of sacrifice has been successfully returned to family members, 99 years after the death of the West Lulworth soldier it commemorates.

As reported in the Echo earlier this year a search was launched to trace the family of fallen war hero Ernest William James who was killed in action at the Battle of Ancre, near Arras, on April 6, 1918. He was just 19-years-old.

Historian Trevor Green had purchased his Medal of Sacrifice from an online auction in February and wanted to return it to a living relative.

Mr Green, who lives in Lancashire, said: "Given that it is 99 years since his death this year I thought it would be nice if I could find a living relative of Ernest so that I could give the medal to them.”

The search for the family of the fallen soldier was bolstered by stars of the BBC’s Heir Hunters, Finders International, who carried out research into the case for free after reading the story in the Echo.

The professional probate genealogy firm traced a great niece of soldier Ernest William James, Wendy Dymock, who lives in Nottingham, as well as her brother Jeffrey Davenport.

Wendy said: “It was a big surprise as sadly no one in my family knew about Ernest. It’s lovely to have this memento to be able to pass on to my children and grandchildren.”

Ernest William James was born in Lulworth in 1898. After his death he was buried with other Dorset men in Bienvilliers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, near Arras. He is also commemorated on the West Lulworth War Memorial in West Road along with 11 others.

The Medal of Sacrifice was given to all the next of kin of soldiers who fought and died during World War One in recognition of loss.

Daniel Curran, MD of Finders International, said: “Medals of sacrifice are treasured family keepsakes. We are delighted we could help Trevor return this one to its rightful owners.”