A Westhoughton family is looking for answers after discovering their grandfather was awarded a mystery war medal.

Matthew Woods, of Westhoughton, fought in the First World War, achieving multiple medals. 

More than a century on his grandsons, John and Eric Woods, already knew of four medals he had been awarded for his efforts in the war. 

However, they have recently discovered he was also awarded a DCM, or Distinguished Conduct Medal, which is given for 'gallantry in the field'. 

A newspaper cutting from the Bolton Evening News in 1916 tells of the honour. 

The Bolton News: John Woods, his wife Dorothy and John's cousin, Eric Woods, (R-L), are looking to find out more about the medalJohn Woods, his wife Dorothy and John's cousin, Eric Woods, (R-L), are looking to find out more about the medal (Image: Newsquest)

It reads: "Another Boltonian to receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal is Sergt. Matthew Woods, 1st Battalion L.N.L Regiment, 4 Charles Street, Westhoughton, who formerly resided with his parents at 47 Livingstone Street, Bolton. 

"The honour has been awarded to Sergt. Woods for devotion to duty and bravery in the face of the enemy. 

"Sergt. Woods has had many narrow escapes from death. On one occasion, along with seven others, he was fixing barbed wire not 50 yards from the Germans when all his comrades were killed. 

"He has also many war remembrances, one of which is an officer's Bible, given to him in recognition of his attempt to save the officer's life."

The Bolton News: Matthew Woods and his wife, Mary Elner. Photo estimated to be around 1914-1915Matthew Woods and his wife, Mary Elner. Photo estimated to be around 1914-1915 (Image: Newsquest)

Now, his family are looking for any information about their grandfather's DCM. 

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The Bolton News: Mr Woods' genuine Meritorious Service MedalMr Woods' genuine Meritorious Service Medal (Image: Newsquest)

John said: "I wrote to the Lancashire Regiment Museum in Preston to see if they had any details of his service. They could account for the Meritorious Service Medal and three other medals, but they could not find any record of the DCM. 

"You start thinking did he get it or not get it. But it was in the Bolton Evening News, I could not see it being published without having got the story from somewhere. As far as I know, at that time, he was in Doncaster Hospital and they wouldn't have gone to Doncaster to interview him. 

"Cousin Tommy, of my dad's, saw the newspaper in the library and ripped the cutting out, which he shouldn't have done! He could at least have got the date!

"I would have thought the information would have come from the War Office or something, it would have been good propaganda during the war." 

The Bolton News: Replicas of three of his medalsReplicas of three of his medals (Image: Newsquest)

He added: "We only have one medal left, the family story goes that he had thrown his medals into a pond at a mill in Westhoughton because he was so disgusted that he couldn't get a job after his service. 

"There is nobody alive who is old enough to know whether he got the DCM. I'm the eldest of his grandsons and granddaughters left, and I have no memory of it, he had long died before I was born." 

Eric said: "He was only 52 when he died, that is no age at all." 

Matthew lived with his wife, Mary Elner, at 4 Charles Street in Westhoughton, a street which no longer exists.