24 April 2015

WWI trio saved from being thrown out

This story from Bill is just brilliant.

Readers of the Lost Medals Australia Blog, will be more than aware of the odd places medals are found.
But what does not often stand out is how close the medals have been to being lost forever.
Prior to her husband dumping the contents of a skip, Pauline always checks to see that no one has added chemical waste to the skip.
As she put it to me when we met. “It was odd, a brown paper bag tied up in a plastic bag”? Curiosity got the better of me”.
It was just as well it did. Inside the brown paper bag were the World War 1 medals of 1616 Private John Walter Snelling.
The search for his next of kin owes much to the team of the Australian Surname Group. As they came up with each individual clue, we slowly got closer to finding a next of kin. Complicating matters was that John, while wounded during the war, had died as a result of an Industrial accident in 1934.
But one thing the Australian Surname Group team has is persistence and as a result I found myself talking to Richard Snelling, John’s surviving son. It was for me an incredible experience to talk with a direct descendant of a WW1 Veteran
After I hung up and after I finally collected my thoughts I posted the following on the Australian Surname Group web site.
‘Dear Team
Last night I spoke to Richard, John's last surviving offspring.
I left him in tears (of gratitude)
His father passed away when he (Richard) was only 5, and as he tells it Legacy to whom he will always be grateful stepped in paying for his and his siblings schooling and books.
On ANZAC Day his mother would let him wear his dad's medals, it is over 70 years since he saw his father's medals
On Wednesday morning (my postage day) a registered parcel will wing its way North.
Today when Pauline, who found the medals, dropped them of at the RSL, we had quite a talk of how the medals were found, in a skip and by chance, as she said “I thought it looked odd, a brown paper bag tied up in a clear plastic bag. I was curious”.
I had planned to, on Pauline's behalf, ring Richard and let them have a long talk, however Richard had to go out at the last minute, so this afternoon I called him and gave him Pauline's telephone number.
Later in the week I will ring back and see how it went.
But from me
Well Done.
The returned medal tally is now 1660. 

Vietnam War nurse's medals

Most of the stories on this blog are about male soldiers. Every now and then we deal with the medals awarded to females and most of them are nurses. This particular story is unique for us as it is about the medals awarded to a Vietnam War nurse.
I was contacted recently by Leigh who had the Vietnam war medals awarded to F15201 Lorraine Potts. A combination of my research and that of the Department of Veterans Affairs has manage to track down Lorraine's husband and the medals will be returned shortly.
The returned medal tally is now 1657.

20 April 2015

Walter Dryburgh post update

I've just updated the Walter Dryburgh post and added a photo of the return of his medals.

16 April 2015

Ronald Chapman

This is another example of a man who served his country with little fanfare.
61979 Ronald Frederick Noel Chapman was a Leading Aircraftman in the RAAF and later a labouour. He was married to Rita and it appears they lived a quite life in Parramatta. Rita died in 1969 and Ronald in 1997.
Ronald's medals were sent to me by Denise B and I've found a family connection through Ronald's brother Kenneth.
These medals are named in the usual manner for WWII RAAF medals. The impressing is quite heavy compared to the naming on Army medals and the stars are un-nammed.  
The returned medal tally is 1655.

15 April 2015

Dulcie Hickman

In the broad scheme of WWII, this particular medal is quite inconsequential. However, when the story behind it is told then it takes on a whole different meaning.
VFX128227 Dulcie Irene Hickman enlisted in to the Australian Army Medical Woman's Service and cared for wounded soldiers. A letter from Dulcie to her parents about some of her experiences was published in their local paper. I've added it below. After the war Dulcie worked in a Repatriation Hospital and continue to care to veterans.
Her medal may be humble but her commitment to service was not.
Thank you to Laraine R for me sending the medal. Also thanks to Dave B in France for putting me in touch with Dulcie's great niece, Pat.
The returned medal tally is now 1651.

13 April 2015

Albert Mingkam

This is a very complicated story and once again I had to go back in to a families history to put this together and find a relative in the current generation. The solider I was researching was 7784 Albert Mingkam who served in the 16th Battalion, AIF.
Almost immediately I had a problem. It took a while to work out that Albert's full name was Albert Ging Wor Wong Ming Kam. He was the son of Edward Wong Ming Kam and Louisa Hall. Edward and Louisa married in 1879 but he died in 1880. He had been married previously, divorcing his first wife in 1877. Edward practicsed Chineese medicine and there are a number of articles on trove about him. One is included below as well as the probate notice for his estate which mentions Louisa.
Louisa married John Joseph Jackson in Broken Hill in 1893 and they eventually moved to Perth. John died in 1931 and Louise in 1946.
Albert didn't marry until quite late in life to Ada Elizabeth. Her marriage to Albert was her second or possibly even her third. They didn't have any children. Albert died in 1956 and Ada in 1961 aged 93.
Getting this far in the search was difficult enough due to these different marriages and also that Albert sometime went by the surnames Ming Kam, Jackson and Mingkam.
Many months of searching provided no leads on siblings to Albert, Ada, or John. Last night, in frustration, I revisited my research in to Louisa. I found reference to her birth and that her father's name was Stephen Keele Hall. This name turned out to be the crucial lead I was looking for. Stephen is included in a tree on Ancestry. I fired off a message to the owner who is putting together the Hall family history for a friend. Not long after this message was sent I received an email from Janeen (nee Hall) who is Louisa's great great great niece. Janeen's branch of the Hall family is the closest family link that I'll find to Albert and I'll send her the medal in the near future. 
Thank you to Lorellyn who sent me the medal. 
The returned medal tally is now 1650.

06 April 2015

Santley Redfern

This story just came in from Bill.

In 2009 I had the privilege of being one of a ‘small band’ of volunteers who came together to try and locate the next of kin of those young Australians who had been killed at Fromelles in 1916. Mine, by comparison to many, was an insignificant role, but it is one of which I am proud.
One such soldier to lose his life during those dreadful days of the 19th-20th of  July 1916 was 1067 Private Santley Redfern. While records show he may have been buried at VC Corner along with many others of the 31st Battalion A.I.F,  his next of kin had no reservations in registering their DNA, if not to identify Santley, then at least to reduce the size of the selection pool.
Recently, I assisted Ian, who had two of Santley’s medals, to pass them on to the family.
Out of respect for the family and after a request I will say no more. Other than to express a thanks to Ian who came to me with the medals, seeking my help and then at his own expense had the medals mounted before they ‘went home’.

The returned medal tally is now 1649.

This is a picture studio portrait of Santley.

30 March 2015

Thomas Joshua Lyons

Readers who have have seen the Lost Medals Australia Face Book page might recall that on Friday I was interviewed by ABC Newcastle about a WWI Victory Medal awarded to 3839 Thomas Joshua Lyons. The medal had been found by Rod Pritchard who was doing some metal detecting.
From the time I was first contacted, at about 1200, until I spoke on air at 1540, I was able to piece together a family tree and provide the presenter the name and phone number of Thomas' great nephew.
Thomas was 42 when he enlisted, single and his next of kin was his sister Gertrude Muggleton. Thomas was allocated to 31st Battalion and on 26 October 1917 he died of wounds received fighting in Belgium. He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. Thomas also had a brother, James. The usual precedence was that if a single mean who died and he had no parents, any medals were sent to the eldest brother. However, there is a letter on the service file stating that Thomas' medals were to be sent to Gertrude.
My search got off to a shaky start. Gertrude's married name was mispelt as Muggleston and I went down a rabbit hole. Once I worked out it should be Muggleton I got lost again but then found that Gertrude's full name was Ellen Gertrude. That was the key to unlocking the entire story.
Gertrude married Henry (known as Harry) Charles Muggleton. Gertrude died in 1954 and Henry in 1961. The electoral rolls provided the name of their son, Noel Thomas, know as Tom. I wondered if the use of Thomas was in memory of his dead uncle.
Tom had a large family and it didn't take long to work out the names of his eight children. In the 1980 electoral roll (the last available on line) is listed Tom's son Leo Bernard Muggleton. This was to unusual combination of names to ignore and within seconds I found that Leo is a Sydney base lawyer.
I provided all the details to the ABC who contacted Leo today and told him the full story. Leo was later interviewed but unfortunately I was in a meeting and couldn't listen in.
I spoke to Leo tonight and found out a bit more information. As I suspected, the name Thomas has traveled down the generations. Leo has also visited Thomas' grave in Belgium.
I think that Rod who found the medal should be congratulated on making the effort to see that this medal was returned to the family.
The returned medal tally is now 1647.

29 March 2015

Royal Navy Sig Boy

Every now and then we receive a medal which is a bit out of the ordinary. This BWM arrived in the mail last week from Paul B of WA. The naming on the medal is to J87212 Albert Edward Casey, Signal Boy, Royal Navy. I've only seen this rank on a medal in photos.
The British records showed that Albert was born on 15 January 1905 and joined the Royal Navy before 1914. He served through until about 1920. In 1924 Albert emigrated to Australia where he married Jessie Winifred Mona O'Donoghue in 1934. Albert and Jessie lived mostly around Newcastle, NSW and in 1948 he was appointed to the NSW public service. At some point in the 1970s Albert and Jessie moved to Perth and in 1980 they were living in Scarborough. Albert died on 6 July 1980 and Jessie on 8 December 1995.
With out any direct descendent and no siblings of Albert's that I could identify, I started to look at Jessie's family. She was the daughter of John O'Donoghue and Selina Weekes. Jessie had two brothers but neither appear to have had children. However, I found a clear line from the Weekes family to Greg Weeks who lives only 30 km from me. Greg has an extensive family tree on Ancestry and hold many other family medals. I hope to meet with Greg soon and hand over the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1646.

28 March 2015

Charles Pertel

This search is another that started after receiving a box of medals from the WA RSL. The British War Medal awarded to 2595 Charles Pertel has had a hard life as can be seen in the photos. The suspender is bent and loose, the edge is damaged and the surface is pitted. All that really doesn't matter as the naming is still quite clear.
Charles was born in Russia in 1889, he arrived in Australia, via New York on 5 November 1908. After WWI he settled in Broken Hill and married Edith White. They had one daughter, Ruby May Pertel.
Charles appears to have enlisted for WWII but the records are incomplete. He died in 1942. There was then a big gap that I couldn't fill until I came across the wedding notice of Ruby to Hugh Carney in the Broken Hill newspaper via Trove. I was able to follow Ruby and Hugh through to 1980 when the on-line electoral rolls cease. The last entry gave me the name Jan Carney at the same address but there the trail went cold. I had to go back to the 1930s to work out who Hugh's brothers were. This branch of the family was a bit easier to follow and I soon found a likely candidate in the White Pages. Shortly after I was provided with Jan's phone number. We have just spoken and I now know that Ruby is still alive.
Thanks to Wendy at the WA RSL.
The returned medal tally is now 1645

27 March 2015

John Peach

Another medal that I received recently from the WA RSL was the Defence Medal awarded to WX2112 John Henry Peach. I found John on an Ancestry family tree and a message was soon dispatched. The tree is owned by Diane who forwarded my message to David who is John's grandson. We have now been in contact and I'll dispatch the medal in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now1644.

25 March 2015

Neil Anderson - a story of coincidences

This story has far to many coincidences.
After the publication of the Brook story in the Canberra Times I was contacted by Dr Laurence Anderson. He had found a collection of items under a house which included three WWII medals, letters, address books and even old bank passbooks. The medals were in their original box and addressed to Neil Anderson. I had to look twice to confirm that despite their surnames being the same there was on other connection between Laurence and Neil. That was the first coincidence.
The information that Laurence provided from the the documents he found showed that Neil was a British soldier who served in the Royal Engineers. A search of Ancestry confirmed that a Neil Macarthur Anderson lived at the address that the medal were found at. I also found that he died in 1973. From the 1977 electoral roll I worked out that the name of one of Neil's daughter's is Janet Macarthur Anderson. There was no sign of this name in the 1980 electoral roll but with such an unusual first and second name combination I soon found Janet's married name. This led me to a phone number in northern NSW.
At the same time, I arranged to collect the medals from Laurence whose practice is directly opposite my office. Coincidence number 2. I wandered across the road today and met Laurence. The next coincidence is that Laurence has an interest in military history and has combined this with his hobby of film making. He recently made a short film called The White Feather. The trailer can be seen at this link. Laurence also introduced me to one of his staff who had seen the Canberra Times story and told Laurence about it knowing that he had found the Anderson medals. Yet another coincidence.
This evening I called Janet and explained what Laurence had found. I could really hear the surprise and excitement in her voice when we talked about the discovery. I now know that Neil was at Dunkirk and took part in the D Day landings.
The pictures shows Neil's medals, including a France and Germany Star. As was the custom for British WWII medals, they were issued un-named. However, as they were found in their original box of issue it is very easy to attribute them to this solider.
The returned medal tally is now 1643.

19 March 2015

John Topliss

Bill and I never fail to be amazed at what gets handed in to the the RSL State Branches and then forwarded to us. Long time readers will recall the NSW box and the medals we have received from the Victorian and West Australian RSLs. Yesterday, I received a box from Wendy, my contact at the WA RSL which contained several medals groups.
One of the groups was awarded to F4106 John Alfred Topliss. The number is for a member of the RAN whose home port was Fremantle. From the WA electoral rolls I was able to work out that John Alfred and his wife had a son by the name of John Edward. There are no electoral rolls past 1980 on line so I lost the trail. However, by a frustrating process of elimination I worked out the maiden name of John Edward's wife. This led me to the Brady Family Tree in Western Australia which listed John and his wife so I fired off a message. By this morning I had been connected with John's daughter who has suggested that her brother, also named John, is the best person to receive the medals.
Thank you Daryl and Michelle for your prompt assistance.
The returned medal tally is now 1640.
 It was normal practice that WWII stars awarded to RAN were un-nammed.

Walter Dryburgh

Some returns are just meant to happen.
At 1755 this afternoon I opened an email from Dennis of Melbourne. He asked me to call him so he could explain the full story behind a group of medals he purchased many years ago. Being a former solider and having respect for the man who was awarded these WWI medals, he had them mounted and framed. The medals were awarded to 807 Walter Vincent Dryburgh who served with the 29th and 32nd Battalions, AIF.
While I was talking to Dennis I searched Ancestry and found Walter on several family trees. The owner of one promising looking tree was marked as private but I was able to determine two points. Firstly the owner was Walter's great niece and the tree title was TiffanyDryburgh. A quick search of the internet took me straight to the website of photographic artist Tiffany Dryburgh. This was far to much of a coincidence so I called the contact number and sure enough I had the right person. This was all done by 1813 (sorry Bill). I've now connected Dennis and Tiffany. Dennis has kindly given me permission to post the photo he provided.
The returned medal tally is now 1635.
Post update 20 Apr 15
I have just received a photo of the return of Walter Dryburgh's medal to Tiffany Dryburgh.

05 March 2015

Kenric Morrison

Kenric James Ker Morrison enlisted in 1915 and allocated to to 30th Battalion, AIF. He later commissioned and transferred to 57th Battalion, AIF. On 1 October 1918, Kenric was wounded in action and eventually lost his arm.
When Kenric returned to Australia he settled in Hornsby, NSW with his wife Ina and established a poultry farm. The street they lived on is now called Morrison Place. Kenric died in 1955 and didn't have any children.
Kenric's brother was Roland Noel Morrison who was a chaplain. At aged 56 he enlisted for service in WWII. As the padre of the 2/23 Battalion he was at Tobruk and was Mentioned in Dispatches.
I've located Roland's grand son, Ian, also a padre and I'll send him the medal in the near future.
Much thanks go to the Huxley family who I met in Canberra when they gave me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1632.

01 March 2015

Father and daughter groups

In the past I've researched father and son groups but I can't remember having returned medals to a father and daughter.
The father is 22036 Gunner John Herbert Brook and the daughter is NF451938 Enid Mary Brook. The medals came to me in a tin that was found by the great team of The Green Shed. Working out who Enid married was reasonable easy as there was a badge in the tin with the name Forbes. Using all the small clues I was able to put it altogether and I've now been in contact with Enid's daughter.
The returned medal tally is now 1631.

More success for Bill

More success for Bill.

The search for the family of Flight Lieutenant B began with a mystery package previously referred to on this blog.
For once the sun seemed to smile on me. I was able to find the grave plaque of our veteran along with that of his wife. These gave me their children's details and I was able to progress from there.
The medal disappeared many years ago while the family was moving. While there is only one of the  medals now back in the family, I advised them to get it mounted so there is less chance of losing it in the future.

The returned medal tally is now 1627.

Charles Nayler

This story from Bill has both a positive and negative aspect.
The search for the family of QX9091 Charles Thomas Nayler started when a former vice president of a Qld RSL was asked to arrange the remounting of a set of medals.
His problem, he explained, was that on checking them he discovered that there was a 'ring in', namely the 1939-1945 ASM, of Nayler. This I believe occurred when the medals were originally mounted by a ‘professional’ medal mounting service many years ago.
As you can imagine this search has involved a lot frustration and dare I say it, angst. To avoid any unnecessary embarrassment to several families that have now or are now becoming involved I have not included any further details. However, I will merely say that several sets of medals are currently being ‘examined’.
This, by the way, is not as rare as it seems. Recently an ex-serviceman was looking for his medals. The medals had been set up in a display case back in 2004. It is only recently he realised that the medals in his display frame are not his. Unfortunately, the shop that mounted the medals went out of business quite some time ago.
To those of you who read this Blog and have medals and are considering having them re-mounted, please remember to check the inscription on the medal when you go to collect them.

The returned medal tally is now1626.

22 February 2015

Thomas Johnson

Just in from Bill:
Thomas Johnson's War Medal arrived in two parts a jiffy bag with a short note, that explained the medal along with others include in the bag were given to an RSL Branch by the family of a collector. They didn't want the medals and felt that the RSL could either put them on display or return them to a next of kin.
Somehow the medal has, over the years, been twisted or abused so that the medal separated from its suspender. However, it is nothing that a competent jeweler cannot fix.
The successful search really owes everything to the team at he Australian Surname Group. At the request of Thomas’s great nice who will receive the medal, many of the details that would normally be posted have been held back, to preserve privacy.

 The returned medal tally is now 1625.

C O Fitzgerald 9th LHR

The search for the family of 615 T/SGT Charles Otho Fitzgerald threw up many unexpected surprises. Charles was the son of Lord Charles Fitzgerald who was in turn a son of the 4th Duke of Leinster. Unsurprisingly, there is quite a bit about this family in the Victorian newspapers from the early 20th century. I've included a few articles below.
Charles was a member of  the 9th Light Horse Regiment. It would appear that he suffered an injury after being kicked by a horse and subsequently transferred to the Anzac Provost Corp. Charles brother George served as a captain in the 5th Battalion.
After the war Charles married Mary Pearl Millicent McIntosh but they didn't have any children. I followed the families of several of Charles' siblings and it was through his sister Mable that I have arrived at the current generation.
Mable married Robert McCracken who also served with the 5th Battalion. Robert was an original Anzac and this story provides some interesting information about his family.
It is Mabel's grandson who I've been in contact with and will return the medal to.
Thanks to Helen M who sent the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1624.


21 February 2015

Wallscourt Steen Kelly

I commenced this search at 1300 today and at 1840 I was speaking to the nephew of the subject of this search. 5 hours and 40 minutes of solid research to get a result. There is a considerable amount of information available about this officer and I'll be including it in the story.
Yesterday, the medals awarded to Wallscourt Steen Kelly arrived in the mail, sent to me by Tony B. Wallscourt enlisted in 1916 and allocated to the 38th Battalion. His experience in the Senior Cadets saw him quickly promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer. Then in 1917 he was commissioned and moved to the 60th Battalion. Later in 1917 Wallscout was wounded in action having received gun shot wounds to his right thigh. He was also mentioned in dispatches. Wallscourt's appointment in the AIF was terminated in February 1918 to take up a commission in the Indian Army. Wallscourt was also a first class cricketer.
The Kelly's were a reasonably prominent family in their district in Victoria and as a result there they were mentioned in the newspapers on many occasions. It was through these stories that I was able to piece together Wallscourt's life and family connections. I've included some below which include pictures of him. He eventually retired from the Indian Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Wallscourt married late in life to Mina Branigan who served as a nurse during WWI.
The newspaper articles gave me the names of Wallscout's brothers, Rudyard and Hubert. Rudyard served in the RAAF during WW2.
The Kelly's eventually settled in WA and Rudyard lived in Applecross. Using this information I could track Rudyard's children John, David and Delrose. John had a career in the RAAF and a very interesting piece of information came out about him. He was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1952. This award was for saving the lives of several Royal Navy sailors who got in trouble swimming off Cocos Island. I've included an article about this incident as well.
John died in 2012 and on a hunch I searched the West Australian newspaper death notice archives. I got luck and John's death notice was online. To my surprise the notice mentioned Rudyard's other son David and gave his phone number. I was soon talking to David who was able to confirm all that I had found as well as fill in some blanks. He also told me more about John's award.
As well as his WWII pair, Wallscourt was awarded the India General Service Medal with clasps for Waziristan and the North West Frontier.
The returned medal tally is now 1623.

This is Wallscourt's MID.

Wallscourt with fellow officers in 1918

Wallcourt's engagement to Mina

Wallscourt with fellow officers of the Indian Army

Wallscourt's death notice

John Kelly's BEM