Charity shop finds rare gun in clothes

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The Independent Online

A rare First World War gun has been given to a charity shop by a mystery donor.

The revolver belonged to Captain Hugh Sayres of the Lancashire Fusiliers, who was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Captain Sayres, 27, died alongside his dog Nailer while leading his company in an attack on Beaumont-Hamel on July 1 1916.

His gun was discovered in a bag of clothes donated to a charity shop in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, nine months ago.

The donor was never traced.

A Leicestershire Police spokesman said that ordinarily the gun, which was handed to police, would have been destroyed.

However, a Loughborough police officer recognised the rarity of the 1912 Webley Revolver and received permission to research its history.

Sergeant Rich Matlock of Leicestershire Police learned that Captain Sayres joined the Lancashire Fusiliers after graduating from Sandhurst.

In 1912 he was sent to India and in 1915 was shot in the right shoulder while landing in Gallipoli.

Sgt Matlock said: "Hugh Winfield Sayres was a remarkable officer who excelled at everything he did including boxing, hockey, steeplechase and cricket.

"He could have remained an Acting Major but chose to return to his men and was sent 'over the top' at Beaumont Hamel in the mistaken belief that the Germans posed little threat.

"Of course the opposite was true and 19,000 men died that day.

"All his affects, including his gun, would have been sent home to his family who had it engraved again, this time in his memory.

"It is unusual for a gun to have been used in Gallipoli and at the Battle of the Somme which is what makes it so rare."

The gun was made by Wilkinson Wembley and the barrel is inscribed with the words "In Honour of Capt. H.W Sayres 1st July 1916".

Leicestershire Police will donate the gun to the Fusiliers Museum in Bury, Greater Manchester, on 18 February.