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.