Peter McBride comes from Middlesborough in Cleveland. His first foray into detecting began in 1996 when he bought himself a Bounty Hunter for searching beaches and local playing fields.
During this time he found something very interesting and most unusual – a German medal, dated December 1938, complete with a facsimile of Hitler’s signature. With most great finds the question, ‘I wonder how it got there?’ often asked by detectorists, is particularly intriguing. This one particularly so!
What Peter had found was a Bronze 3rd Class Mother’s Nazi Cross, part of a Nazi propaganda campaign to increase the birth rate. The Nazi party glorified starting a family and having children so awarded the medal to any German mother having four or more offspring. For producing eight or more children they received a gold cross and for six to seven, silverotherhood cult was born, and contraception was banned. A wartime slogan said it all, “I have donated a child to the Führer”.
The cross was awarded to ‘genetically fit, politically reliable, and socially worthy’ German mothers. In 1939 about three million women qualified for the honour. They also enjoyed financial privileges and preferential service when shopping, but these could be revoked if she neglected her children, cheated on her husband or transgressed in other ways. I wonder how many Germans had Adolf Hitler as a Godfather? For exceptional fecundity he would do the honours for any tenth child in a family. One woman was reputed to have sixteen babies.
Not long after finding the Nazi artefact Peter started a family of his own. His hobby was sidelined and his detector consigned to the garage where it slowly expired from the damp and neglect.
In 2012 and with a now grown-up family, Peter bought a new Garrett Ace 250 with the intention of using it on the beaches during his Cornish holiday. It never happened.
Back home, in 2013, he joined an Internet detecting forums and was having some success with the Ace but quickly realised that he now needed to upgrade. Based on his experience level, he decided that the Minelab Safari was the way to go. His first outing was in May that year when he started finding his first hammered coins. In September he found what he describes as, ‘far and away my best find ever!’
That ‘best find’ was a Richard I class 4a hammered coin of 1189, bearing the name of Henry II, whose short cross pennies continued to be issued during Richard’s 10 year reign.
In a twist (cough) to the ‘walking back to the car’ story, Peter said, “My detecting buddy … was loading his gear into the car. Not wanting to hold him up I walked quickly with the Safari’s coil close to the ground and not even swinging it. 20 yards from the car I pushed through a dense patch of stubble and got a nice sounding signal … to my utter astonishment I pulled out a Richard I hammered silver coin which apart from being slightly bent was in fantastic condition!”
Peter said, at the time, that he enjoyed the help and encouragement from all the detectorists on the forum he joined (now defunct). I wonder if he is still searching for I’d love to hear from him.
Bill’s Remarkable find
Bill Clark (aka Metal Illness) on the American TreasureNet forum tells me that he found a silver version of the Mother’s Cross in Ohio just across the street from where he lives. His neighbour Charlie, whose house was built in 1908, allowed him to detect the yard.
Charlie said that it didn’t belong to them and they didn’t have any family with German connections. So, how this piece of Nazi propaganda from Germany ended up in SW Ohio remains a mystery.
He had no idea of what he had found, but he was pretty sure that the word ‘mutter’ meant ‘mother’ in English. After a little research – with the aid of Mr Google – he was amazed at what he had discovered.