20 August 2014

WW2 group of four medals

Another great story from Bill.

There are often times when Glyn and I are asked do we know where the medals have been. Often my answer is no. Sometime just finding the next of kin is enough. The WW2 medals of VX105924 (V125026) CorporalCharles Louis Apotheloz certainly fits this mold.
From Ian, Secretary of the Stratford RSL to Jude Beshears, the Office Manager of the Victorian Branch of the RSL is a short distance in time, what is longer though is from Charles’s death in 1965, or the death of his wife Gladys in 1968, to now. Where has his medals been all this time and how many hands have they passed through.
As I said at the introduction, sometimes we have to be satisfied that returning the medals is the best we can do. So shortly the medals will be returned to Ian, Charles’s nephew, and who it transpired when I contacted him, is the family historian. I recently told the team of the Australian Surname Group: “tonight I spent nearly an hour on the phone to Ian, slowly working my way through the family tree your input had help construct. Ian confirmed as I thought from his service file that Charlie had not had an easy life during his military service. He had been quite ill after the war and it was not until late in life that he married Gladys. Unfortunately they had no children”.
When I spoke to Ian tonight uppermost in my mind was to ensure that the family understood that if they (family) should accept custodianship of Charles medals, then it was beholden to them to not only care for the medals but ensure that an ongoing ownership of the medals was maintained. It is this last item, which both Glyn and I hold strong views about. You are never ‘given’ a serviceman’s medals, you only hold them in trust.

The returned medal tally is now 1523.  

16 August 2014

WWI British War Medal

Some of our searches raise more questions than answers. This story from Bill is one example. The result was a successful return

The background to the search for a next of kin of 7029 Arthur Sylvia Lane is convoluted, even if you allow for the queries over Arthur's full given names, Arthur Sylvia or Arthur Silvio?
The request to look for the family came as a consequence of a deceased estate and an enquiry by the will Executor to the Victorian branch of the RSL for help.
Unfortunately, and I do not know why or how there were no details of where the medal came from. Even now I don't, but to Gordon for his reaching out to the RSL, thank you.
But above all this search belongs to the team of the Australian Surname Group, whose patience and perseverance won the day.

The medal that was returned was a British War Medal. The returned medal tally is now 1519. 

12 August 2014

WW2 Royal Australian Navy medal group

The four WW2 medals awarded to PA1728 Able Seaman Raymond Hartley Rusby were sent to me by Vicki D about 2 weeks ago. It didn't take me long to work out that Ray was originally from South Australia so I knew there would be a little bit of difficulty find family details as the South Australian records are difficult to access. The give away that Ray was from SA is his service number. The PA stands for Port of Adelaide which was part of the Navy numbering system during the war.
Luckily I came across a family tree which was able to provide me some family names I could also research. This lead me to Ray's brother who lives in Canada and another relative who was able to forward a message to Ray's daughter.
In the near future I'll be forwarding Ray's medals to Cheryl in the same pristine condition they were issued over 60 years ago.
Thank you to Vicki for the medals and Keith and Annette for their assistance.
The returned medal tally is now 1518.

11 August 2014

Albert Budd Carter

Every so often we do some research that is not only challenging but has a story that is truly upsetting.
I received a WWI pair recently from Rod P of Cairns which set off a fascinating bit of research.
695 Albert Budd Carter was a 40 year old furnace man from South Shields, England. In 1915 he was living in Melbourne with his wife Jane. When he enlisted he was allocated to 57th Battalion, AIF.  The battalion was involved in the Battle of Mont St Quentin in August 1918 and then further fighting around Bellicourt in late August. It was here, on 29 August 1918, that Albert was killed in action, just six weeks before Armistice Day.
Other than a couple of electoral roll entries up until 1919 there was very little details about Jane. By 1923 all mention of her had disappeared from the records.
From the Commonwealth War Graves entry we had Albert's parent's name, James and Hannah, and where they were from in England. To help out, Bill enlisted assistance from the Australian Surname Group. Within a couple of hours we had the names of Albert's siblings and clues from immigration records about Albert. He was a seafarer and hence his occupant as a furnace man. A few other clues led me to locate several siblings who emigrated to Queensland and then to NSW. After following a few promising leads around the Sydney suburbs I ran in to dead ends. It is then I went back to Albert's eldest bother, Walter James Carter.
Walter married Louisa Bricknell in Queensland and they had four children. One was named Charles Edward after another of Albert's siblings. Charles married Ivy and their son is Graham Carter. I found Graham in the electoral rolls in 1977. A quick check of the White Pages had a G Carter at the same address so I took a punt and rang the number. To my relief I found the right family.
This research was a little difficult but thanks to all the individual pieces of information I received I  was able to put together the solution is a little over 24 hours. Thank you to all those who assisted and to Rod who sent me these medals along with the O'Rourke medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1514.

09 August 2014

Lawrence O'Rourke - KIA

1157 Lawrence William O'Rourke was a 22 year old farmer from Tasmania when he enlisted in 1915. He was allocated to the 26th Battalion, AIF.
O'Rourke fought at Gallipoli but eventually fell ill. He was hospitalised on Malta before returning to  Egypt. In March 1916 he transferred to the Divisional Train as part of the Australian Army Service Corps. At some point after this he returned to his battalion
On 29 July 1916, O'Rourke was killed in action. He has no know grave and is commemorated at Villers-Bretonneux.
O'Rourke's next of kin was his brother Arthur. I have located Arthur's grand son Barry and will soon return O'Rourke's British War Medal to him.
Thank you to Rod P who sent me the medal. The returned medal tally is now 1512.

Father and son medals

Increasingly Bill and I are providing assistance to the Police forces around Australia. We are very pleased that is some small way we can help out.
Bill recently did all the research to locate the family of Guy Kellaway Headlam (WWII service) and his son Robert Guy Headlam. This story was published on line recently but really doesn't tell the full story as there are some aspects that need to remain private.
The returned medal tally is now 1511.

24 July 2014

Frederick Saunderson

When NX60383 Frederick James Saunderson, passed away in April 1982, his medals were passed by Fred’s wife Regina to their son. That was the last the family saw of the medals till just recently when we contacted Fred’s daughter. To say the least she is overjoyed that the medals have been found.
Following the Fred’s son’s death in Queensland in 2000, the family have been searching for the medals. Always with no result.
We were recently contacted by Steve Eaton of the Queensland RSL to whom the medals have been handed. We have a long relationship with the Queensland RSL so it was great to be able to put our research skills to the test to help them out and track down Frederick’s family. 
The returned medal tally is now 1504.
Pictures to follow. 

21 July 2014

Private Michael Baldwin - 1500 medals now returned

This story marks a significant milestone for us. We have now returned 1500 medals. I’m so pleased that the honour goes to Bill.

"When you start to research your family tree, odd things turn up, such was the case of the WW1 medals of 553 Private Michael James Baldwin. Who was he and how did his medals became ensconced in family of Noelene who engaged us to do the research? It was easy to find Michael’s service history, it was tracing his background and that of his family that proved difficult.
While Michael was one of seven children born to Patrick and Mary Baldwin, only one his brothers, Patrick, established a line that could be traced. Like many of his era, Michael was an itinerant worker, it was while he was in South Australia that he passed away. His widow Mary dying some years later.
Complicating the search for a next of kin was the need to disprove any possible link to Noelene’s family. In the end I agreed with her there was no link. So the question remained how had her grandfather came to be in possession of Michael’s medals, had they ever served together or known one another? That question is still open ended, I have no doubt that Noelene will find an answer. But perhaps what is important is that Michael’s medals are now back with his family, his great niece Lynn.

It was while I was talking to Noelene that she mentioned her son-in-laws grandfather, Joseph Horne and the difficulty the family had in tracing his British Army background, could I help. Normally, Glyn and I try to steer clear of becoming involved in family searches, however in this case I felt that I owed Noelene at least the opportunity to give a go. What I did find out in the end was that yes he had served in the British Army, in India before the First World War, with the 17th Bengal Lancers no less, but unfortunately Joseph’s war records were amongst those destroyed when London was bombed during WW2.
However, I did discover that Joseph had enlisted in the Australian Volunteer Defence Corps during WW2, as a result was eligible for the Australian Service Medal 1939-1945, and the Civilian Service Medal 1939-1945.
Shortly after emailing Noelene the above with regard to Joseph, I forwarded an application for the posthumous issue of medals and clasps to Joseph’s son. Now while he may not have all his grandfather’s medals he does have those of Joe’s last service to his King and Country."

I'll add a few extra details to this story. Michael was a member of the 8th Light Horse Regiment. The regiment is most famous for forming the first 2 waves in the charge at the Nek. This story is tole in the film Gallipoli. This charge occurred on 7 August 1915 but Michael didn't participate as he had been wounded in action on 2 June 1915. He received a bullet wound to his left hand and had a finger amputated. Michael's service record is extensive and has 105 pages. What I find interesting is that on page 104 there are three stamps to show that his medals were returned in 1923.
The returned medal tally is now 1500.