26 August 2015

Frank Catterall

Bill and I are usually reluctant to do any research until we receive a medal. This is due to some unfortunate occurrences in the past where we have expended considerable resources on our research only to find for one reason or another we can not complete the return. However, when we see that the person holding the medal is so committed to returning it we are confident enough to start the journey.
This was the case recently when I was contacted by Dr Sandra A who had a WWI medal awarded to 5354 Frank Alfred Catterall.
Frank was originally a member of the 3rd Battalion before being taken on strength of the 55th Battalion. How Sandra's family came in to possession of this medal is a mystery but after many years of research she had hit a brick wall in finding Frank's family.
What I found out was that Frank married Amy Winifred Klauss, however, they had no children. His sister, Alma Doris Catterall married Albert Edward Wallace. Their daughter was Marjorie Ida Wallace who married Clifford Frederick Parsons. This research led me to Scott E who put me in touch with his mother, Kathy the daughter of Marjorie and Clifford Parsons.
The last step in this process for me has to connect Sandra and Kathy so that the medal can be returned to the family.
The returned medal tally is now 1710.

24 August 2015

Albert Gale newspaper story

Tonight I received a fantastic email from Tim, the great grandson of Albert Gale whose story I posted a few weeks ago. He very kindly sent me scans of a story from his local paper.
 

Robert Cocking

Bill says that this is a story that wanders.

Many of the medals that come to us, come as ‘orphans’. While we initially know nothing of the veteran but we do have a means of identifying them, in many case the people who pass the medals to us often admit to knowing even less. In the case of the British War Medal awarded to 3268 Gunner Robert Thomas Cocking, it came from a small parcel sent to me from ANZAC House in Melbourne. It had, along with a varied collection of other medals, been recovered by the Victorian Police, who as the law dictates were somewhat circumspect in passing the source.
From a simple search using his reported death in the Argus Newspaper of both the 2nd and 16th May 1917, along with the Victorian BDM’s and the help of the Team at The Australian Surname Group, I was soon able to deduce the family tree. But then it got hard, as the Cocking family were again hit by tragedy when Robert’s sister Clara passed away in 1932. Her death notice referred to a daughter Gwynoth and her husband Walter Meryment, but nothing else.
So at this time I decided to look to Robert’s brother’s family.
It was relatively uncomplicated up until Arthur Cranston Cocking married in 1924. Perhaps the records say it best, Arthur Cranston married Mona Lyons Ford or Mona Lyonsford, either way Arthur Cranston Cocking disappeared to be replaced by Arthur Cranston who literally disappeared until I found his enlistment papers from WW2. What I did find interesting was that a M. Forty was given as his next of kin.
Taken as a Prisoner of War on Crete in 1941, Arthur suffered ill health from his release in 1945 until his untimely death in 1973. But even with the electoral rolls the search slowly ground to a halt as the undertakers were unable to locate any documentation. The only further reference I could find of Arthur was having his name of the Ballarat POW Memorial.
So now it was back to Gwynoth and the discovery of a newspaper entry of Walter’s request for administration of Clare’s will. All of this documentation had originated in NSW.
Now it was to the NSW BDM’s, and after a while of mucking around found ‘Gwynoth’s’ marriage as Gwyneth Clare Meryment to a Clarence Ready.
A week ago I spoke to Steve, Gwyneth’s son who advised me quite proudly that his mother was still alive. So tomorrow I will stop by the Watsonia Post Office and when I ring Steve tomorrow evening it will be to tell him that Robert’s British War Medal, one of three medals his father claimed in 1921 are coming home. 

The returned medal tally is now 1709.

14 August 2015

Vietnam War pair

The Vietnam War pair of medals awarded to 219607 John Frederick Spellacy came to me from Jock at Defence Archives after they had been handed in.
John Spellacy served with 110 Signal Squadron in 1970-71, just a couple of years after our Bill was with this unit.
Unfortunately, John died in 2009 but I've been able to contact his family and will returned the medals in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now 1708.

10 August 2015

Lloyd Williams

A wonderful story from Bill
 
It was only when I spoke to Glyn prior to emailing him this story of Corporal Lloyd Lentell Williams, that we both realised a common tread across several return. This was the sixth time we have returned medals, which were issued to the families of those who were lost when the Montevideo Maru sank. If there is one defining characteristic that unites them, it is the treasured memories of their loved ones, memories that they still hold so dear.
The search to return the Australian Service Medal of VX50632 Corporal Lloyd Lentel Williams, began with a phone call from Cindy at the Cranbourne RSL.
“We have a medal that has been passed in at the club and we would like to return it. I have looked up the Serviceman, but all we have been able to find is that he was killed when the ship he was a POW on was sunk.”
Without thinking it came to my mind “The Montevideo Maru”.
“Yes that’s the one.” she replied.
And so began the search. A search that took me back, back in time to memories of previous searches involving other POWs who had been lost when the Montevideo Maru sank after it was torpedoed by the USS Sturgeon off the Philippines.
As Lloyd had never married, it became a family search first looking back to his parents, to try and locate any siblings, all of whom would have been born after the cut off date (1920) of the Published Victorian Births Register. A further distraction was that the details surrounding the sinking of the Montevideo Maru, and the subsequent loss of life, were never released to the families until well after the end of the war.
After a somewhat tedious and confusing search, I was fortunate to find a mention of Lloyd’s loss in The Argus newspaper of Tuesday 9th October 1945, which said:
‘WILLIAMS.-On or about July 1, 1942, lost at sea while P.O.W., VX50632 Lloyd Lentell, 2/22nd Battalion, Rabaul, second dearly loved son of Leslie and Gwen Williams, 18 Morven street, Mornington, and loved brother of Lesley (Mrs. Milton), Frank (A.I.F.), Ken (A.I.F.). and Ian (A.I.F.), aged 24 years. -A wonderful son and bravest soldier.’
I now had the family and above all Lloyd’s siblings identity I was able to harness the unique research skills of the Australian Surnames Group came to the fore. I eventually found myself talking to Tim, the grandson of Lloyd’s sister Ada. Tim is a school teacher and has made it his responsibility to maintain the War Service history of his Uncle Lloyd and his three brothers, Frank, Ken and Ian.
Tim admitted that for many years now he has searched for Lloyd’s medals but with no success. But as he admitted when we spoke, he has never given up looking, and the return of Lloyd’s ASM has only encouraged him to keep searching.
The returned medal tally is now 1706.

This picture is of Lloyd from his service file

 
 The Montevideo Maru
The Freighter Montevideo Maru. Before the war, it operated as a passenger and cargo vessel, travelling mainly between Asia and South America.
On 22 June 1942 an estimated 845 prisoners of war (POWs) and 209 civilians died when she was torpedoed by a US Navy submarine, USS Sturgeon, off the coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines. The ship sank quickly, this with the fact that the holds in which the prisoners were kept had been battened down, contributed to the loss.

Lloyd's ASM

07 August 2015

Association badge

Over the years Bill and I have received different items of militaria which we are asked to return. This is one such case but it is very close to home for me.
My niece Rebecca goes to school in Townsville and through that connection my sister in law was given the badge which is pictured below. The hope was that I could get it back to the owner. As soon as I saw it I recognised it as a corps association badge. In this case for the Royal Australian Corps of Transport (RACT). These badges have a membership number on the reverse so I know we could track the owner.
Yesterday, I happened to be in Townsville and I knew that I would be seeing a friend of mine who is the Commanding Officer of one of the logistic units at Lavarack Barracks. He is also RACT, as is his Regimental Sergent Major, so I handed over the badge in the hope the member was local. Through their corps association the badge owner, a Corporal now posted to Canberra, was tracked down very quickly thanks to the membership number. The badge is now in the post.
Thank you Colin B, WO1 Andrew K, Min and most of all Rebecca and her school.

The returned medal tally is now 1705.

04 August 2015

William Portway

This is one of the the most touching stories that I can remember.

Completely out of the blue I recently received an email from an RMC classmate of mine who now works at a local primary school. As part of a Centenary of Anzac school project one of her students was researching a WWI soldier because he had found a medal in a house he used to live in. The student's name is Ben and through my friend, sent me with all the service details.
The soldier was 484 William Charles Portway. Prior to WWI he had served 12 years in the Northumberland Fusiliers. This experience meant he was promoted to Sergeant while serving at Gallipoli. By 1916 William was fighting in France, had been commissioned and was wounded in action.
William's son was Bruce who served in the RAN during WWII. After the war, Bruce and his family moved to Canberra and lived in the suburb of Campbell.
That is where Ben comes in to the story. In a cupboard Ben found William's 1914 - 15 Star which he wanted to return to the family. My classmate gave me a letter that Ben wrote and I was able to trace William's grand son, Don, up until 1980 but I then lost the thread. However, with a rather unusual surname, there was a small number of possible options to choose from and try to contact. I took a punt on one listing and found Don..
A lovely turn of events it that Don will be in Canberra next week and there are tentative plans for him to meet Ben and receive the medal.
I can't express how impressed I am with Ben and his efforts to see this medal back with the family. I'll quote just a short part of his letter: 'I would like to return it because I feel his family would like it'.

The returned medal tally is now 1704.

22 July 2015

Sidney Parkes

188 SGT Sidney Ernest Parkes was one of the original members of the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment. Prior to his WWI service, he fought in the Boer War with the 1st NSW Mounted Rifles. He was wounded in action which reported in the papers at the time.
Parkes arrived at Gallipoli early in the campaign and was killed in action on 24 May 1915. He is buried in the Shrapnel Valley Cemetery.
Parkes must have been quite notable in his regiment as he is even mention by the famous Trooper Bluegum in an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Thanks to Max H from the Toodyay RSL who sent me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1703.

03 July 2015

One of our return stories in the media

The return of the WWI Memorial Plaque awarded to the family of Albury James Wetherall that we returned recently has been featured in a regional TV story.

28 June 2015

John Wilton

In this post I am going to focus more on the medal rather than the solider or the research to find the the family.
When I received this WWII War Medal I was really confused. The medal only had a service number on it but no name. The surface appeared to be stippled, this is the only way I can describe the texture of the medal. The die does not appear to have left as crisp an impression as I have come to expect. This can be seen in picture of the obverse and reverse of the medal. Also the letters and digits of the service number are spaced quite a way apart which is unusual.
The number on the medal is TX80 meaning the medal was intended for Tasmanian solider, John Wilton. I didn't have much luck locating his family but I did spend a bit of time researching the condition of the medal.
This medal came to me with several others in a similar condition. The others were either not named or the impressing was indistinct. What I worked out was this medal probably was a reject but for some reason was not destroyed as it should have been.
Earlier this week I received an email from Allen R who is a friend of John's son. I have now been connected with the Wilton family and I know that they have the full group of medals awarded to John. This is quite an unusual set of circumstances. It is not the first time I've come across two officially named medals to the same person what don't fall in to the replacement/duplicate category, however, this is the first time I've seen such an obvious mistake. I'll send the medal to the family to keep with the officially awarded group.
The returned medal tally is now 1702.
    

25 June 2015

Thomas Kennedy

2500 PTE Thomas Paul Kennedy was a 41 year old butcher from Melbourne when he enlisted in 1916. He was wounded in action while fighting in France with the 59th Battalion, AIF. He also spent a lot of time in hospital for various reasons. In 1918 he was diagnosed with Effort Syndrome also known as Da Costa's Syndrome. This syndrome would today be considered an anxiety disorder. Thomas was discharged as medically unfit in 1919.
Thomas was a bachelor and lived in the family home until 1949 when the electoral rolls show him in a War Veterans Hostel. In 1954 Thomas and his brother Charles (WWI NOK) were together in the Melbourne Aged home. Kennedy died in 1960 aged 84.
Charles was also a bachelor so I traced the family through their sister Margaret who married James Tyrell. This family is part of an Ancestry family tree and through the owner Robyn, I have now been in contact Sherie who is Thomas' great grand niece.
Thanks to Phil who sent me the medal and to Robyn for connecting me with Sherie.
The returned medal tally is now 1701

15 June 2015

Charles Northcote WWI trio

A great story from Bill to take us to a significant milestone.

“In a rubbish tin” was Joseph’s comment when I contacted him in reply to his email to ANZAC House (Victorian RSL State Head Office) seeking help to return the WW1 medals of 1590 Private Charles Albert Northcote.
My immediate reaction was “another one”. Sometime in the future Glyn and I are going to stop and work out how many medals have come to us via rubbish and recycling bins, builder’s refuse skips or the local tip.
But finding a next of kin for Charles Northcote was my priority.
Building a family tree is at times a complicated and confusing task. Working my way through Charles’ family tree was a combination of both. His father died quite young and his mother remarried. Charlie had three siblings, only one of whom, his step sister Katherine, had a family. 
Charlie married twice and had 3 children. Both his daughters married but did not have any children. It was through his step sister’s side of the family tree that I was able to locate his niece, Wendy now living in Tasmania. This, surprisingly, was where Charles lived after World War 1 before he moved his family to Melbourne.
All of this only emerged after a long and I must admit at times, a thoroughly boringly series of searches through Trove and the Electoral Rolls. Thankfully, I had the assistance of the Australian Genealogy Surnames Group. It is, I must admit, at times like these when researched data conflicts or where each avenue is a dead end, that the need for care and patience becomes paramount.
Tonight I spoke to Charlie’s niece Wendy, who is both proud and overjoyed to accept these medals.
Thanks go to Joseph who found the medal, his great niece Shirley and the team at Australian Genealogy Surnames Group, who provide the missing links which drew this search together.

The returned medal tally is now 1700. Interesting private naming on the 14/15 Star. It doesn't look to be renamed. Maybe Charlie received an un-named medal and rather than send it back for naming . He was definitely entitled to all these medals.

13 June 2015

William Hunt AKA Brown


A recent collaboration that we had established is with Ian Martyn who runs Medals Reunited New Zealand. Ian noticed one of the names on my list was an Australian who served in the NZEF during WWI. The soldier in question is 42336 William Hunt NZEF. All the information that I could find was from the New Zealand Cenotaph site which showed who was listed as his NOK and his address in Wellington. Ian took this scrap and has come up with a spectacular result. This is a synopsis of Ian’s research.

The search started with a revelation that one of my researchers found on a MyTrees.com inquiry for William Hunt. He appeared in a McCarthy tree but was called Brown, same birth date, included name William, died NZ, of an accident, same date, place etc. The McCarthy tree also had a person by the name of John Huggard McCarthy 1824 Ireland and a Flora Jane McCarthy 1826 Ireland. Flora Jane McCarthy is part of the Brown tree, as was the name Huggard, later extrapolated into deHuggard or DeHuggard - more familiar name links to William Hunt. 
McCarthy's linked Brown tree have all the same people as identified with William Hunt - they also had appended "Hugh William Ernest Brown, known as Hunt" on their tree. This coincided with some key information on a portion of one of the many Brown families in New Zealand in the Ancestry Archive. Also some key names came up from previous Hunt searches on Ancestry plus the appearance of his sister's name (Flora) as NOK one point.
The thing that gave me the most grief was reconciling why William would transition from BROWN to Hunt. So here is the short version of a long story. Robert H also responded to an information request - William (Hugh Ernest) Brown managed to embarrass the family by taking up with and running away to NZ with a married woman, one Isabella (Bella) Cook, this person he cites as his NOK and living in Ghuznee St, Wellington (the Cenotaph entry connection).  To effect and disguise this fact, he obviously selected his 2nd name and surname from the other side of the family to cover his tracks.
Part of my family tree that shows Hugh Brown 1838 - 1887 was married Flora Jane Eland. They were the parents of both Hugh W E Brown and Hellen Flora Jane Huggard Eland (married to Oliver Warren). Another sister was Mary Moody Brown (1875 - 1935). This is Robert H’s Great Grandmother.

After the war William worked as a quarryman at Sandspit Island. Ian found the following information about his death.
 “11 Feb 1928 in Auckland, age 48yrs after injuries received from accidentally falling from a ladder while boarding the SS “Hirere” – this entry is handwritten in his Army file.
The SS Hirere was a costal river freight/passenger boat that transited from the Port of Clevedon to the Coromandel Peninsula via the Firth of the Thames and on up the Waihou River.
Obituaries – Papers Past
Auckland Star, 11 Jan 1928
FALL INTO HARBOUR. SEAMAN'S MISHAP. DEATH IN HOSPITAL.
Mr. William Hunt, who was hurt yesterday afternoon through falling into the harbour and striking some, wharfs piles, died in the Auckland Hospital this morning. Mr. Hunt, who was employed by Messrs. McCallum Bros., was returning to the steamer Hirere, at Albert wharf, when he slipped. He was helped from the water by several men who were nearby and taken to the Hospital by the St. John Ambulance. He was suffering from internal injuries and a broken nose. Mr. Hunt, who was 54 years old, lived on Sandspit Island, Thames Estuary.
Death Notice in Auckland Star, 12 Jan 1928
DEATHS.
HUNT.—On January 11. at the Auckland Hospital, as the result of an accident, William Hunt; aged 54 years. Funeral will leave Mr. Tongue's Mortuary, top Mount Eden Road, at 10 a.m., Friday, for Waikumete.

This has been a significant piece of research by Ian and his team. I am very indebted to his efforts and the information provided by Robert. I very much look forward to sending Hugh and Robert the medal in the near future. Thank you to Kyle B of Lilydale, Victoria who sent me the medal. The returned medal tally is now 1697.
Thank you to the family of William Hunt for kind permission to reproduce these family pictures. William is the young man third from the right with his knee up in the first photo. It is believed that the man in the second photo is also William.
 

William Booth

Another medal I received from the Toodyay RSL was the Defence Medal awarded to 64138 William Herbert Booth. There is not much to tell about this story as it only took me 10 minutes from the time I started searching until I was speaking to William's family. Easy searchers through the NAA WWII RAAF records, Ancestry, the Ryerson Index and the White Pages led me straight to the right person
Thanks again to Max from Toodyay. The returned medal tally is now1697.
Post update
Information and photos supplied by the family of William Booth

WILLIAM HERBERT BOOTH
William Herbert 'Bill' Booth attended Trinity Grammar School and worked as a furniture salesman for Beard Watson & Co. Ltd. in Sydney prior to World War 2. As a young boy he attended many parties at the family home of Hardwick and the photograph below identifies him as ‘Billie Booth’.

Bill joined the RAAF at the start of World War 2 and was initially stationed at Parkes, NSW. He then attended the Signal School at Point Cook from 10 May 1942 to 15 October 1942, graduating as a wireless mechanic. From October of that year, he was based at No. 1 AOF.1 School at Richmond. From March the following year he was a member of 83 Squadron, returning to Point Piper in July 1945. While in 83 Squadron, Bill travelled to Millingimbi Island in the Arafura Sea in December 1943 and Gove on the coast of Cape Arnhem on 19 January 1944, remaining there until 20 September 1944. He reached the rank of Corporal in 1943 and was demobbed on 30 November 1945.

Bill married Lila Elizabeth Munro, 'Bonnie', on 15 April 1939. 

Between 1943 and 1949 Bonnie, and after the war, Bill, lived at 62 Bathurst Street, Liverpool. Below is an extract from the 1943 Australian Electoral Roll:
Bill and Bonny had two sons. By 1954 the family was living at 154 Pacific Highway, Greenwich, and Bill and Bonnie were listed as storekeepers. By 1958 the family had moved to 104 Liverpool Road, Ashfield. Bill and Bonnie divorced in the 1960’s and Bill went to live in Maroochydore, Queensland. He died in September 1980 in Gosford, NSW.