A SOLDIER’S service medal which went missing for 13 years has been returned after it was found on sale in an Afghan market.

Mick France, a former Lance Corporal with the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, was reunited with his honour after being contacted on Facebook.

The medal was unearthed by Stan Bates, a Superintendent with West Yorkshire Police, who was working as a civilian adviser to the police in Afghanistan.

Mr Bates, from Burnley, said: "I regularly trawl the local bazaars in Kabul where India General Service Medals are not uncommon and, while doing so, one of my contacts showed me this medal.

"It was engraved with Mick's name and unit and obviously had a story to tell. So, having bartered the price down, I purchased it and contacted the Duke of Lancaster's Regimental Museum."

The Regiment set about tracking down Mr France via its network of ex-soldiers and by using Facebook.

Mr France, 39, from Blackburn, said: "My girlfriend rang me. She had opened an account on Facebook that I never check.

“She said that my platoon sergeant in Berlin had contacted me and wanted me to call him.

“I obliged as he always had something stupid to say to me because he comes from Burnley and I'm from Blackburn.

"After speaking to him I was amazed that my medal had been found in a bazaar in Afghanistan - a place that I never went with my regiment."

Jeff Ashton, area secretary for The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, said: "It's been a pleasure to help get the medal back to its rightful owner.

“We've an impressive collection of our own here at the museum but it's always nice to see medals being worn with pride by the recipient, and Mick assures me he'll be keeping a close eye on it from now on."

Mr France was presented with his Northern Ireland service medal for a second time by Mr Bates during a ceremony at the Regiment's headquarters at Fulwood Barracks in Preston.