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. 

20 July 2014

James Goodwin

If only all searches were this easy.
Late last week I received the WWII War Medal awarded to 41143 FSGT James Lee Goodwin from my friend Sandra. Luckily, James' 97 page RAAF service record is available on line. While there were some clues I could use, I also found James on a family tree on Ancestry.com.au. I sent off a message to the tree owner and shortly after received a reply. To my very pleasant surprise Elizabeth was able to connect me with James' daughter, Pat. Over night I had an email from Pat and I can now return the medal.
Thank you very much to both Sandra and Elizabeth. The returned medal tally is now1497.

 James and Pat (reproduced with kind permission from Elizabeth)

16 July 2014

Francis Connolly

I received the WII War Medal awarded to SX31933 Francis Patrick Connolly from Michael P in May 2014. Fortunately, Francis is included in several family trees on Ancestry.com. From this I was able to determine a relative of Francis and will soon return the medal to the family.
The returned medal tally is now 1496.

Clarence Moore

 Here is Bill's story about our latest return:

There are times when Glyn and I sit down to write up our research and we determine that consideration for the family takes precedence over the story. Such is the case of the search for the family of VX51577 Clarence Bernard Moore, whose medals were found along with those of Clement Handley in a rubbish bin in North Laverton.
Frank, who found the medals contacted Jude Beshears at the RSL Victorian State Branch HQ and was referred to me. It says something for Frank’s quick action in that we spoke on a Friday morning at 1000 and I picked up the medals from the Watsonia RSL at 1830 that evening.
The search for the next of kin of Clarence took less than a week before Glyn had located Jacquie, Clarence’s Granddaughter.
Shortly Jacquie and I will arrange for her Grandfather’s medals to be mounted. And so a veteran’s medals that were never mounted, stolen when Jacqueline’s mother was only a child and can never remember her father wearing them, are ‘home’.

Thanks to Jacquie for permission to use the photo of Clarence. The returned medal tally is now 1495.

14 July 2014

WWI Victory Medal

It is not often that I get to speak to someone who knew a WWI veteran well. In this case the second cousin of 20810 Leslie Manson Juster is in his 90s and was able to provide quite a bit of detail about Leslie on top of that in the service record. I now know that Leslie didn't have children of his own and was one of the early RACQ road side service mechanics.
Thanks to Graham Docksey (scroll down the page to see Graham's details) who sent me the medal. The returned medal tally is now 1492.

More assistance to the Queensland Police Service

Last week I posted a story about some assistance I provided to the Queensland Police Service. On that occasion I was able to give the Property Officer from Mackay the contact details the family of a soldier whose medals were handed in. Today I received an email from another QPS Property Officer who had a medal and was looking for the veteran.
The soldier was NX60383 Frederick James Saunderson. Saunderson died in 1982 but from the electoral rolls I found his son's name and was then able to provide the details to the Property Officer. I'm sorry to say Bill, but this search took less than 5 minutes.
The returned medal tally is now 1491.

09 July 2014

More assistance to the Police

There was was story about a WWII/Korean War group of seven medals posted on Face Book overnight. The medals had been found and handed in to the police. Several friends shared the link with me. I contacted the station today and got the service details of the veteran. Within 10 minutes I was able to locate a family member and provide the contact details back to the police.
The returned medal tally is now 1490.

01 July 2014

WWII RAAF medal group

This WWII group of four medals was awarded to LAC Francis Henry Brennan. He served in the RAAF during the New Guinea campaign. I have recently spoken to his son and the medals will be returned shortly.
Thanks to Peta B who sent me the medals.
The returned medal tally is now 1483.

30 June 2014

Australian Army Service Corps British War Medal

This is another case where I can't publish many details to many details but the lack of details do not represent the hours of research behind this result.
15250 Joseph Francis O'Brien served in the Army Service Corps as a driver. He was 29 when he enlisted in 1917. I went down quite a few rabbit holes when I started this search due to the fact that his full name was Michael Joseph Francis O'Brien, the same as his father. It wasn't until the 1930's that he went by his full name. To cut a very long story short I can say that this branch of the O'Brien family is now extinct. It is through the family of his wife to who I will send the O'Brien's British War Medal.
Thanks to Guy T from Canada who originally sent me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1479.

South African Medals

This is a new line of research for us. Last month I received an envelope from Jackie at Australia Post. The envelop contained four large medals and the corresponding miniatures but it had come adrift from the packaging.
I had not seen the medals before and initially thought them to be from some association. The medals aren't named but on the envelope was a name and service number. All searches that I tried bought up a no logical solutions. I put the research aside as something to do when I could dedicate a lot of time to it.
Last week I received a email form a gentleman asking me to research some Australian WWII medals and he happen to have the same surname as on the envelop. While he isn't related he provided me with the South African origins of the name.
This was all the clues I needed. Once I established the South African link I could identify the medals. From there I narrowed down the potential candidates with the initial/surname combination from the envelope to one person. I found a reference to him on a Facebook post so I sent the owner a message.  Overnight, I had a response from Cape Town and it is the right family. The medals belong to a retired South African Major General who now lives in Australia. I spoke to him this morning and will post the medals off in the near future.
Thanks to Jackie from Australia Post, Lascel for the details on his surname and Riaan for replying so promptly with the contact details for his father.
The medals in the photo are the Military Merit Medal, the Southern Cross Medal, the General Service Medal and the Permanent Forces Good Service Medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1478.

29 June 2014

WWII group of four to Clement Handley

Last week Bill received a parcel from the Victorian RSL HQ which contained two medal groups and some other memorabilia. One of the groups is those awarded to VX59824 Clement Walter Handley. A quick search of Ancestry bought up a family tree o I sent off a message. Within 24 hours I had a reply and I've now connected Bill and Handley's grandson. I hope to hear more about this return from Bill in the near future.
The medal returned tally is now 1470.

26 June 2014

Merv's medals

Bill recently sent me this story:

Each search we I has an obvious beginning which often shapes how the search will develop. In the case of Merv’s medals, it was a Police Constable who dropped into Watsonia RSL, asking for me. His comment according to Jan the receptionist on duty at the time was “We’ve got these medals, we can’t find the owner. I was told you have a bloke called Bill who is pretty good at returning medals”.
And so with those cryptic words the search began.
At this point may I say the medals were in the Police lost property office for 12 months. Therefore, I should have known that if the Police with all their resources couldn’t find the owner or his next of kin, I was in for, as Sherlock Holmes would have it, a four pipe problem. For me it was a lot of cups of coffee and more than the average number of dead ends. How true these words have proved to be.
When I eventually contacted Merv’s daughter-in-Law her response was: “No”. She remained adamant after she asked if I also had a swimming medal among Merv’s medals and I had to admit I didn’t. Her next response was, “Well we have all his medals, there here somewhere all in a little blue box, in fact I’ll look for it now”. So I left my phone number and I must admit at the time I actually looked again at the medals to make sure I had not made a mistake somewhere along the line.
About 30 minutes later I got a phone call “The medals aren’t in the box”. Then followed a series of “yes” and “nos” as together we tried to work out how the medals came into the possession of the Police. But perhaps of even more interest was how I found the family as Merv had passed away in 2003.  
The Police and the loss of the medals was the easiest to explain, a grandson borrowed them to wear on ANZAC Day and lost them at the football. What is important is that the medals are ‘home’ and next week they will be going to Spud (A1 Service Medals- a free plug) who will mount them.
Also with the medals went a few words of caution and the need for care, particularly by young men at football matches. Many thanks to a young Victorian Police who took the effort to see these medals restored to the family.
Next week Merv’ son and I will start the paperwork so that Merv’s grave, the grave of a Japanese POW, can be commemorated.

The returned medal tally is now 1466.