12 February 2017

Walter Kirby

Bill and I have great relationships with the Police forces around Australia. This return was initiated when I received a message from Leading Senior Constable Dale Annesley (VICPOL). Dale told me the following story:

'This medal was found at the Forest Hill Shopping Centre and handed in in 2012. I have an interest in medals so conducted enquires to try and locate the owner. The medal was issued to Walter Edward Kirby dob:28/07/1903 QX16807, served with 3rd reserve motor transport company, was a prisoner of war Java, interned in Thailand. Was born in Gympie, enlisted in Toowoomba nok: Ivy Kirby, died August 1978.'

A quick check of the WWII nominal roll confirmed all the details so I moved to the Queensland BDM and found the names of all of Walter's siblings. From there I moved on to the electoral rolls. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Walter and his wife Ivy had any children. I did located the name of a nephew who is also listed in the White Pages. I passed all this to Dale who has also kindly provided a newspaper article about this medal.
The returned medal tally is now 2011. 
PS, don't tell Bill that this took me about 4 minutes to resolve. 

Alfred and Samuel Morey

Some stories are really complicated to tell due to family complexities, the passages of time or side stories that just seem to over take the medal and the soldier.
In this case it is probably better to start with what I know and then introduce a tangent.
I was recently sent a Queen's South Africa Medal awarded to 573 Troop Alfred Charles Morey who served with the Victorian Bushman. I also received the 1914-15 and British War Medal awarded to 3025 Samuel George Morey, 1 Divisional Ammunition Column, AIF. These came to me from Adrian F of South Coogee.
Unraveling the connection between Alfred and Samuel was a little confusing but I eventually confirmed they were brothers. All this research also led me to James Mathew Morey but more about him later.
A letter that Alfred sent to his mother from South Africa was published in the papers and makes for interesting reading. A copy of this letter is below. In the letter Alfred mentions his wife but I could not find any evidence that they had children.
Samuel was a different story. He was the father of many children, several of who served in WWI:
665 Gunner Percival Henry Morey.
91 SGT Walter Henry Morey who was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal.
11777 Gunner William Ormsby Morey who was Mentioned in Dispatches.
It was through Percival's line that I have been able to contact the current generation. Percival and his wife Olga had a number of children. Their eldest son was Dennis and it is his family who I'll send the medals to. Here are the pictures of Alfred and Samuel's medal and Alfred's letter. James' story is further down the page.
The returned medal tally is now 2010.

Now back to Alfred and Samuel's brother, James. 568 Trooper James Matthew also served in the Victorian Bushman. He was a police constable in Victoria but it is the story of James and the regimental mascot, 'Bushie', which really makes for interesting reading.

25 January 2017

Hugo Stach

This one of those different returns that come our way every now and then.
I was recently contacted by Rhett B who had come across a silver tray that was engraved with the name LT HF Stach. The tray had been presented to Hugo Frederick Stach for winning the 440yrd championship at the 14 Infantry Brigade sports carnival that was held in January 1919.
Rhett has asked me why this tray would have been presented and this is the reason. Following the Armistice in November 1918, sports carnivals were organised to fill in the time until transport ships could be arranged to return the troops to Australia. It is likely that this sports activity was held in England.
Hugo was pretty easy to find in the electoral rolls and in the Victorian BDM records. He was the son of Julius and Bridget Stach. The family name was actually Stach Von Goltzheim but it is not unsurprising that they dropped the Von Goltzhiem in 1914. Hugo died in 1929 having never married. I now know that Hugo was gassed during the war and never fully recovered. He had three siblings; Florence who died in 1964 also having not married; another sister, Elfrieda who married Arthur Bates and a brother Vincent who died of wounds on 26 April 1915 at Gallipoli.
This is a summary of several relatives of Hugo's who also served during WWI:
3158 Sergeant Arthur Ralph Kenney, 58th Bn, killed in action, 19 July 1916; 
3353 Pte William Harold Kenney, 6th Field Ambulance, died of wounds, 10 October 1915; 
3257 Pte Wilfred Rupert Stach, 5th Machine Gun Bn, returned to Australia, 12 November 1916; 
Lt Cyril St Michael Stanislaus Power, 60th Bn, returned to Australia, 21 July 1917; 
12381 Pte Edward Aloysius Power, 10th Field Ambulance, returned to Australia, 27 May 1919;

It is through Elfrieda and Arthur's family that the tray will soon be sent, specifically to Hugo's nephew Cecil. I am grateful to Lynne and Jennie, who is also related to Hugo, for assisting me put the pieces together.
The returned medal tally is now 2007.

Charles Gorringe

Some searches are destined to go smoothly, this is one of them. I hate to let Bill know that it took less that 7 minutes from start to finish.
It began this morning with a referral from the WA RSL. Arron S had come across the medal in a coin collection left to him by his father in 1979. There was no family connection to Arron so he contacted the WA RSL and then emailed me. The medal is a WWI British War Medal awarded to 277 Private Charles Gorringe who served with 10 ALH Regiment. Charles was 38 when he enlisted but had already served 12 years in the 10th Hussars, seeing active service in the Boer War. Enlistment date for Charles was 20 October 1914 making him one of the original members. Any one who has seen the movie Gallipoli will know that the AIF trained in Egypt prior to moving on to Gallipoli. It was during this time that the mounted infantry units were re-rolled as infantry and left their horses behind. 10 ALH Regiment arrive at Anzac Cove on 21 May 1915. One of the first action 10 ALH Regiment was involved in was at Walker's Ridge. At this location, on 16 June 1914, Charles received a shrapnel wound. I've searched the unit war diaries but there is no mention of his name. The war diaries notes that a Corporal was killed by an explosion on that date so Charles might have been wounded at the same time.His service record shows periods of hospitalisation for illness and then in 1916 he transferred to the 28th Battalion, AIF. He was further wounded twice while fighting in France as well as suffering outer illnesses. Charles was discharged in 1917 being medically unfit.
Charles and his wife Elizabeth had four children. One was Reginald William, his son is Harrison Reginald who I located in Perth. I've spoken to him today and his grand father's medal will soon be returned to the family.
Thank you Arron and Royceton.
The returned medal tally is now 2006.
 A young Harrison on his grand father's lap. Reginald is int the back ground.
 Harrison receiving Charles' medal from Arron.

Thank you Arron for providing these photos.

09 January 2017

Cecil Westwood MN

Cecil Thomas Westwood was born in Lincoln UK in 1917, the son of James and Edith (nee Broadbury) Westwood. During WWII Cecil served in the Merchant Navy. He later moved to New Zealand and continued his career as a marine engineer. He was married to Mairi Mackinnon but there is no evidence that they had any children. I've located a relative in NZ and will send them this collection shortly.
Cecil's miniature medals, his passport and several other persona items were found by the staff of the Townsville St Vincent de Paul's.
Thanks to Alicia for sending this collection to me.
The returned medal tally is now 2005.

08 January 2017

Ernest Davies - our 2000th return

The search was a reasonably complicated one which pivoted on one simple constant fact that I could follow through the both UK and Australian records.
6452 Ernest James Davies was a 33 year old single draper when he enlisted in 21st Battalion, AIF in 1916. Ernest saw service in France but he suffered from the conditions he encountered in the trenches.
Ernest was born in 1883 in Aberdare, Wales to James and Ann Davies. His parents names were in his service record so he was easy to find in the UK census records. He was one of 10 children. The problem I faced was working out which of the many men by this name was the right person living in Australia. This led me back to that one constant: Ernest was a draper.
I located the correct immigration record and found that Ernest, at the age of 30 in 1913, left the UK aboard the Orient Line ship "Otranto" for Melbourne. This helped me to narrow down the possible options in the Australian electoral rolls until I isolated the correct man based on his employment - a draper. Also at the same address was Gladys Davies who turned out to be Gladys Annie Ester Price who Ernest married in 1925 aged 42. There is no evidence that they had children so I had to go back and research Ernest's nine siblings.
One sister, Lena, married Arthur Jenkins and their son was Thomas James Jenkins. Thomas' daughter is Linda who married Neil Pxxxx. Their daughter is Sarah who I found is doctor in the UK. My only contact option was to call Sarah's practice, request their email address and hope an email would get through to her.I got far more in return than I could hope for. Sarah forwarded my email to Linda who has contacted me with some additional information which has filled in a few blanks that I had about the Davies/Jenkins connections. Linda is Ernest's great niece and I'll soon end the medal to her in the UK.
This search has been going on since June 2015 when I received Ernest's BWM from Max Howard of the Toodyay RSL. How the medal ended up in rural WA is a mystery I don't think will every be explained.
This might just be a simple medal but for Bill and me, as well as all those associated with Lost Medals Australia over the years, it marks a significant milestone as this is the 2000th medal that we have returned.

07 January 2017

Ron Towe

Great work by Bill.

The stories Glyn and I tell often fall into various categories. One is the slow but steady search, where we tick the boxes as we go. The others, well I am not sure how I would describe the return of the war medals of Ronald James Towe, but here goes.
‘About 1972, Dad was a ‘tip fossicker’ at the old Oakleigh Tip, he said he always planned to return them. I found them about ten years ago when I cleaned out his garage.' With this explanation from the donor, the search to return of the medals of 438631 Ronald James Towe began, for the second time. Or was it the third time?
The first problem I faced was the service number, my immediate reaction was that Ron had served in the RAAF. That idea lasted up until I could not find him either in the Australia War Memorial Index, nor in the Australian National Archives. The closest I came was the Index reference to a A33224, Warrant Officer Ronald James Towe. Which I found confusing in that the A33224 number was a post WW2 enlistment number, yet Warrant Officer Towe had been included in the WW2 Index.
So then it was the electoral rolls, and the help of Australian Surname Group. All went well until 1980, when the ER’s petered out. My next option and one I should have thought of first was to go to War Graves in Canberra.
Yes they did have a date of death for a Ronald James Towe. However, they showed two service numbers on the 438631 and also a second service number, A33224. So now while I could then concentrate on one Ronald James Towe, there was no mention of how War Graves had two service numbers, but the National Archives and the AWM did not.
It was a question that would not be answered until almost a year later, when I finally found and spoke to Kevin, Ronald’s brother.
At the conclusion of WW2, Ronald signed on to serve in the RAAF. Through, some error, mistake, or administrative procedure, Ron was given a new service number and all reference to his original number was erased from both the AWM and the National Archives.
Readers will note that there are only three medals involved and only one, the 1939-1945 Star, is actually impressed. This was quite common with RAAF medals issued at the end of WW2. It was the number 438631, that originally led me to believing Ron had served in the RAAF. His later issued medals carried his new service number.
Ron led an adventurous life in the RAAF, serving in Japan at Nagasaki and later at Maralinga in South Australia.
However at this point, at the request of his family, we can say no more.

The returned medal tally is now 1999. 

06 January 2017

George Patroni

I'm using a leave period to spend some time revisiting several searches which have proved difficult in the past. A fresh look and a calculated guess has resolved this case.
I received the 1914/15 Star awarded to 929 George Patrick Walton Petroni from Major Neil Leckie who has entrusted medals to me in the past. It was relatively easy to follow George through the electoral rolls but a link to the current generation of his family eluded me.
Following the War, George was a publican all around Australia so there were a few gaps in the records. I found his head stone (pictured below) which gave me the name of his children. This included the name Patricia. Today, I found one reference to a Patricia Patroni on the Victorian BDM and her marriage to J Rowlands. It then became a process of elimination through the electoral rolls and one entry for their son, Peter. This entry also gave be a general location in Victoria in 1980. I found the same name/initial combination in the White Pages for the next suburb and this became the educated guess. Sure enough, when I rang the number I had located George's grandson.
Patricia's husband served in WWII and I've added a picture of his plaque.
The returned medal tally is now 1996.

Bill Lloyd

While the story behind this medal is relatively simple it is the coincidences that have occurred to get it back to the family which are interesting.
The War Medal awarded to VX118640 Ernest William (Bill) Lloyd was another of those sent to me bu Ted Ayres from York, Western Australia. Bill was from Melbourne and lived there all his life so how the medal ended up in a small WA farming community is a mystery.
In my search for Bill I found a picture of his headstone and entries in the electoral rolls but not much else. I revisited this search yesterday, having let it rest since May 2015. To my surprise I found Bill on the Ancestry tree of Dr Alan Arnold. Alan is Bill's nephew. I was surprised even more to discover that Alan lives in Canberra and listed in the White Pages. I called Alan and found that he lives only a short distance from me. Another coincidence is that Alan lectured at ADFA for several years and many of my contemporaries were students there at the same time.
This morning I called past Alan's house and dropped Bill's medal off.
The returned medal tally is now 1995.

04 January 2017

Ronald Reoch

In many cases there is not a lot to tell about the solider, the medal or the search. This is one such case. 3837 Roland Reoch was a solider in 15th Battalion AIF. It was a reasonably easy to trace his family through the electoral rolls until 1980. It then took me over 18 months to make a connection with a family member who I can return the medal to. It will now join his brother Richard's WWII medals.
Thanks to Mark R who sent the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1994.

03 January 2017

Jack Iredale

The WWII War Medal awarded to 427886 Jack Keith Iredale has had a pretty tough life. The medal has come away from the suspender and there are two big nicks in the rim just past the name. This is another medal sent to me by Ted Ayres and it has taken since April 2016 to locate Jack's son Rod.
The returned medal tally is now 1993.

27 December 2016

Thomas Sparks

It has been a few years since either Bill or I have received a old tin full of bits and bobs including medals. This particular collection came to me from Alice and Avon H who found it in a property they purchased. They were told that the tin had originally been found at the local tip.
The tin contains many items connected to NX585 Thomas William Sparks. There are his medals, his discharge certificate and other documents, badges and other personal items. From his number it is clear that Sparks was an early enlistee from NSW. What came as a surprise to me is that he was a member of the 6th Division Cavalry Regiment which was immediate familiar to me as a fore runner to a unit I have served in: 2nd Cavalry Regiment. This is Sparks entry for this unit.
When I received Alice's first email about this collection I found a bit of information about Sparks quite quickly. While he lived for many years in NSW, I found that he was buried in Queensland. I also found his wife's name was Nancy. Using the search parameters of their first names and being resident in Queensland, I found the 1980 electoral roll entry for Thomas and Nancy living on the Gold Coast. This is the last roll available online so a bit of luck had gone my way. Also listed at the same address was another Thomas Sparks which I assumed to be their son. That is where I felt the research until the medals arrived just before Christmas.   
This afternoon I double checked my research and came to the same conclusion and found one person in the White Pages whose initial/name combination matched the 1980 electoral roll entry. I took a punt and called the number to find that I had the right connection. I had located Sparks' son.
Thank you Alice for trusting me and sending all these items to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1992.

13 December 2016

Percival James Chandos Mellor

It often mystifies me how medals end up where there do. Especially when they originate from the other side of the world and there is no obvious explication as to how they got to Australia.
The BWM awarded to 329149 Sapper Percival James Chandos Mellor was sent to me by the Narrogin RSL. Narrogin is a small farming community about 200km south east of Perth but when I had a close look at Percival's history there is no link with this part of Australia.
Percival was a 42 year old, single schoolmaster from Birmingham UK, when he enlisted in August 1918. His corps was the Royal Engineers and he arrived in France just before the armistice.
Percival married in 1929 aged 53 but there is no other record I could find until the probate of his will in 1960. His estate was valued at a little over 3000GBP and the beneficiary was named as Andrew John Perry, schoolmaster. The only other lead I found was on an Ancestry tree which put me in contact with the family of Percival's brother.
Without some serious research I don't think that I'll be able to work out how the medal got to Narrogin. Thanks to Lorraine of the Narrogin RSL who trusted me to complete this research on their behalf.
The returned medal tally is now 1982.

23 November 2016

V G 'George' Dougherty

Another two medals that Barry sent me along with the Doran pair are the British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to 6080 ER-SGT Virgil 'George' Gladstone Dougherty. This search was completed with in 24 hours of me receiving the medals while the Doran search took 18 hour - thank you Internet.
George was a widower when he enlisted for WWI. His eldest, Emily. was listed as his next of kin. George married a second time and had another daughter who died as an infant. I then went back to and researched Emily who married Henry Colin Gadd and it is this family who I tracked down tonight.
As part of my search I also found a picture of George which was published in 1916.
The returned medal tally is now 1981.

Edgar Winslow

I've mentioned my friend Catherine Hindson in several posts and this is another occasion where our paths come together again.
Catherine contacted me recently about some medals a friend of hers had. One of the medals, a BWM, was awarded to 3128 Edgar Wade Winslow. Winslow was easy to follow through the electoral rolls. I had the name of his daughter which was Olwyn and that of her daughter Judith. Then the trail ran cold.
Searching further afield I found a family tree which included all these names so I contacted the tree owner and they are all related. I'll send the medal back to this family shortly.
Thank you Catherine and Yvonne for sending the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1979.

Jim Peake - part 2

I first published this story about Jim Peake in Feb 2015. There were several coincidence involved in the original return and I didn't think there would be any additional information. That assumption was turned on its head recently when I received a message from former soldier Russ Constable who had come across one of Jim's WWII dog tags while metal detecting at Lake Tinaroo in FNQ.
Russ tells me that this area of Queensland was used for training prior to the troops going off to the Pacific. Later the area was flooded when the Tinaroo Dam was built. However, recent drought conditions has caused the water levels to drop exposing parts of the lake floor for the first time in years. Russ got to work detecting this location and has found several items including the dog tag.
You can imagine Russ' surprise when he started researching Jim and came across my story. A letter from Russ arrived today and I'll forward everything on to Jim's nephew Bill.
The returned medal tally is now 1978.

2LT Victor Doran

When I discover that a solider I'm researching was killed in action there is always a feeling of sadness. This particular story took on another dimension when I realised that two sons from this family died within months of each other.
Victor Frederick Doran enlisted in 1915 and proceeded with 16th Battalion to Gallipoli. He was later selected for officer training and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He rejoined his battalion in April 1917 and then was killed in action on 11 June 1917 at Messines.
On the front page of Victor's service record I saw a note about 3101 Albert Phillip Doran so I had a look at his record. Albert was KIA on 20 October 1917. Both of the brother's records have copies of correspondence from their father trying to get more information or establish the whereabouts of their belongings. It is impossible to imagine what their mother went through having lost both her sons. It is probably not surprising that both soldier's memorial plaques have been attached to their parents headstone.
Although this family originally came from Echua they moved to WA where the Doran brother enlisted. At some point in the 1920s the parents must have moved back to Victoria. The medals were sent to me by Barry who runs a medal mounting business in WA. Barry had been given the medals by a client who hadn't realised that this group and another weren't awarded to relatives.
The returned medal tally is now 1977.

I have very kindly been provided a photo of a plaque that was placed in memory of the Doran brothers and a news paper article about it.