A MEDAL which belonged to a Rossendale man who died a prisoner of war has been returned to his family in Canada.

Charlie Bell, from Manchester, was given the medal by a friend of his who bought it about 20 years ago at a market in Manchester.

Charlie, who enjoys some detective work, looked into the name on the medal, John Carley, which was won at an athletic competition in Aldershot, in an attempt to return it to a family member.

In his research, Charlie found that John Carley was from Rossendale and went away to the Second World War and died on October 1, 1942 while being held as a prisoner of war.

Serving in 965 Defence Battery in Hong Kong, Sergeant Major John took part in a battle against the Japanese forces that happened in December 1941.

By Christmas Day he was a prisoner of war alongside 10,000 other allied forces

On October 1, 1942 he and nearly 2000 prisoner of war soldiers were placed in the holds of the Japanese ship Lisbon Maru, to be shipped to Shanghai.

Whilst at sea, the USS Grouper Submarine torpedoed the ship. The Japanese crew locked the holds and made their escape, leaving the Allied troops to die.

Some made it out, but John Carley and 827 other men couldn't escape and drowned.

Eye witnesses testified that the last thing they heard from the hold were the soldiers singing, 'It's A Long Way to Tipperary.'

Charlie put out a post on social media in an attempt to re-unite the medal with a family member of John and just before Christmas Day, a nephew from Montreal, Canada, contacted Charlie to say the medal belonged to his uncle.

Charlie said: "A chap out in Hong Kong who had a bit on a connection with the Lisbon Maru was able to put me in contact with John's nephew Denis."

After discussions back and forth, Charlie has posted the medal to Denis, the son of John's oldest brother Don.

Charlie added: "The medal cost my friend £2 but the value to the family of having a momento like that of somebody they lost a long long time ago is great thing to be able to hold on to."