21 May 2015

John Joseph Cody

This search has a bit of everything; mystery, coincidence and a fair amount of luck.
Early this month I received a call from the Secretary of the ACT RSL. He had a parcel addressed to me by name care of the RSL. When I collected it there was no indication of who sent it. That still remains a mystery and that it would come through the local RSL is quite strange.
The parcel contained a WWII group awarded to John Joseph Cody, an officer in the Royal Australian Navy. The name combination is rather unusual and I soon found his service record and details about the MID he was awarded. John (known as Jack) is also mentioned on the AWM website for a collection of 178 letters they hold that were written by Jack. The description says:

A collection of 178 letters of Lieutenant Commander John Joseph Cody written to his parents from between 1933, from the time he was a midshipman in the Royal Navy, to 1953, when he was Commander of HMAS Barcoo. These letters document his training at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, United Kingdom, his service with the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean Fleet and with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). He performed operational hydrographic surveys with the RAN Hydrographic Branch along the coast of New Guinea during 1942-43 when he was Commander of HMAS Polaris. Lt Cdr Cody's descriptive literary style reveals a reflective and dutiful man with an enduring love for his parents, a committed Catholic faith and a love of natural beauty.

I also quickly found Jack's headstone.

These details and information from the electoral rolls led me to determine that Jack didn't marry. So I started looking for any siblings. By linking several names I finally worked out the married name of Jack's sister and the name of her son. That is when the guess work started. I found several people with the same name but only one who was linked to the area of Melbourne where Jack lived. That same name appeared on the website of a charity in a neighboring suburb. Taking a bit of a punt I sent of a message to the charity which was forward to the person I was looking for. Today I received a call from Jack's nephew - my message had found the right person..
Here is the coincidence, Jack's nephew lives about 500m from a friend who I'll be visiting next Sunday. I think it might be worth calling past to drop the medals off.
Thank you to the anonymous donor and the and Kerryn who sent my message to Gerard.
The returned medal tally is now 1867.

18 May 2015

Harold Kean

This is another example of an Australian solider who led a quiet life and served his country. As a reuslt this will be a brief post due to very limited information available.
VX138504 Harold John Kean was a member of the 3 Australian Divisional Provost Company and served in the Pacific. When he was demobilised he lived with his spinster sisters until his death in 1974.
The medals was sent to me by Ted A and will be returned to Teresa who is the family historian for the Kean's and her broader family.
The returned medal tally is now 1681.

15 May 2015

David Bartlett

This story is tinged with sadness.
3263 David Roy Brett Bartlett enlisted on 7 April 1917 aged 23 and 8 months. David was married to Emily Price and they had a baby - Dorothy. David was killed in action on 6 May 1918. His body was never found and he is commemorated at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.
Dorothy married John Newton and it is their son Tony who I spoke to today.
The medal was given to me last week by Ron H. Ron is a retired Army officer who lives in Canberra. He found the medal at the Australian War Memorial some years ago on an Anzac Day. We met last week over coffee and discussed the medal and graduating from RMC.
The returned medal tally is now 1680.

Percy Keast - BWM

The British War Medal awarded to 6538 Henry Georgy Percy Keast was sent to my by Tracey L of the Cooparoo RSL after it was passed to her.
Percy was a member of the 9th Battalion AIF and was wounded by being gassed.
Following Percy's return to Australia the records are pretty thin so I had to make a lot of assumptions about his family. Percy's death notice said that he was the father/father in law of Bill and Joan and May and Alan Stark. By a process of elimination I found William Horace Keast who married Joan Kay and Agnes May Keast who married Alan Frederick Stark. The last electoral roll which is available on line via Ancestry.com.au is for 1980 and gave me Alan and May's son's name and from there I found his wife's name. An internet search provided the same name combination linked to a business in Sydney. Based on a hunch I called the business today and ended up talking to Percy's grandson.
Thanks to Tracey and the original donor.
The returned medal tally is now 1679.

14 May 2015

A tale of three plaques

Brilliant research from Bill.

This is the story of two searches, the longer they went the more tiring and emotional draining they have become. It is out of respect to the memory of the fallen and at the request of their families, that much of the research that went into returning these plaques has been edited.

The World War 1 Memorial Plaque has, by its simplicity, on many occasions made it impossible to identify those it commemorates. It carries no rank, it carries no regimental number, just the name. It was decided when it was designed that there is no distinction between sacrifices made by each solider. 
However, sometimes it is the unique name of the solider that allows a search to go ahead. This was the case in the search for the family of William Michael Quirke who was killed in action on the 8th August 1915 at Gallipoli. He is commemorated at the Lone Pine Cemetery. William was one of three brothers who served during World War I. Fortunately, the others survived. One of the most distinguishable things about the plaque is that it is still in its 4 leaf presentation envelope, 93 years after it was first sent to William’s father.
Today Natalie had the honour of passing William’s plaque to his great nephew John, to honour, to respect and to keep alive the memory of an ANZAC.

Even more unique are the names Robert and Fritz Westgarth, brothers who fell during World War 1. Robert on 24 March 1917 near Bapaume France, and Fritz on 28 May 1917, at Ploegstreert, Belgium.
The story of Robert and Fritz fits the ANZAC legend for it was an email from Dougal in New Zealand to ANZAC House in Melbourne, which in part said:

‘Somehow a pair of WW1 dead men’s pennies, excellent condition, and service medals for Robert and Fritz Westgarth found their way into our family heirlooms. The two servicemen are not of our family and we have no idea how we came to have these in our possession ... possibly family friends of our serving forbears.
Is there any way to locate any surviving family so we could pass the items on to their more-rightful inheritors?

This set the search in motion. Of all the newspaper articles and items I read, perhaps the Bendonian of Thursday 21 June 1917 was the most wrenching:

The sad news was conveyed to Mrs. Westgarth, of Big Hill [Cherry Tree], on Thursday, that her third son, Private F. Westgarth, had been killed in action in France on the 28th May. It is only a short time since Mrs. Westgarth received word that her second son, Private Bob Westgarth, had been killed in action on the 24th March. The fourth and youngest son is still fighting in France. The deepest sympathy is felt for the bereaved family.

On Sunday two families met for a quiet lunch in a Balwyn café, where the plaques and medals of Robert and Fritz Westgarth were returned to their family.
Below is the email I sent to Barry the great nephew of Robert and Fritz prior to the meeting:
Attached are my notes, scribbles etc. It should give you and your family some insight into the search, and where I went, as well as my overriding belief that the plaques and medals should go to a family that has an understanding of what war and having family members in the services means. That this would ensure that they and the memories of Robert and Fritz would be treated with the respect they deserve.
This has not been the longest search I have ever undertaken, but it has in many ways been the most involved in that it literally took up all my time, and anything else, well I just let it go, but from your words, I am not sorry I did’.

The returned medal tally is now 1678. 

10 May 2015

Duplicate WWII medals

As soon as these medals arrived in the mail I knew they were a duplicate set. The medals just look different to the original post war production runs. This was confirmed by the stamped 'D' following the name which I've shown in the photos.
There isn't much to tell other than the solider married after the war but there is no evidence that he had any children. I have found his head stone and there is no mention of a wife or children. I was able to piece together a family tree by using the electoral rolls which led me to a cousin. That is really about all I could disclose.
Thank you to Lindsay at the NSW RSL HQ.
The returned medal tally is now 1671.

09 May 2015

7th Light Horse Regiment Memorial Plaque

A recent delivery to my mail box was the WWI Memorial Plaque given to the family of 3496 Albury James Wetherall. Albury was a trooper with the 7th Light Horse Regiment and saw active service in Palestine. He was killed in action in the Jordan Valley on 15 July 1918.
At some point the Memorial Plaque disappeared from the family and ended up in WA. It evidently ended up in the care of Kirsten who contacted me after reading about missing Memorial Plaques while on holiday in New Zealand. The Plaque arrived in yesterday's post but I was only able to start the research this afternoon. Albury was from Warialda NSW and his wider family remained in the area. I was able to follow the marriage of his sister through the records which led me to Albury's great nephew. 15 minutes after starting the search I was talking to the family.
The Plaque has been well cared for by Kirsten and her family. She has even included a note to Albury's family with the Plaque which I will forward on her behalf.
The returned medal tally is now 1668.

08 May 2015

Charles Birch

This search has been very difficult.
The BWM awarded to 3011 Charles Arthur Birch was sent to me by David R of Gosford. It didn't take long to work out that Charles was killed in action on 3 July 1916 while serving with the 3rd Battalion AIF. That is when the difficulties started.
Charles' farther was Alfred McLennan Birch and his mother was Elizabeth (also known as Eliza) Leah Birch. SOme records also used Leah as her first name. Alfred and Eliza had three children before Alfred died in 1911; Charles who was KIA in 1916, Emily who died during child birth and Violet who married but died childless in 1921.
Eliza went on to live with a man name Colbert who she cleaned for. She sometimes used his surname but they never married.
Eliza's maiden name was Schofield and I found a family tree for her. I sent a message to the tree owner but I never got a reply. I then looked for descendents of one of Alfred's siblings and one I found a descendent I sent them a message. Once again I received no response. In order to be fair to that branch of the family I allowed them ample time to reply.
Recently David enquired about any progress, so last night I started from scratch. I spent six hours going over my extensive notes eliminating each of Alfred's siblings to search through to the current generation. The most promising was Alfred's brother Edward. His son was Arthur Edward and his daughter was Norma who married Robert Henderson. I found this branch of the family on Ancestry and sent off a message to the lady who owns the tree. This morning I had a reply saying that her husband is Norma's son making him Charles' first cousin twice removed.
Thank you David, for your patience.
The returned medal tally is now 1667.

06 May 2015

Ernest Sullivan

This is the second bit of research I've done for the Green Shed. My contact is Elaine who gave me the WWII War Medal and Australian Service Medal 1939-45 awarded to QX38210 Ernest Roy Sullivan. The medals had been thrown out but recovered by the Green Shed staff. They are still in their original box and have never been mounted. 
Ernest appears in an Ancestry family tree and the owner has kindly put me in touch with Ernest's daughter. I send the medals off to her shortly.
The returned medal tally is now 1676.

04 May 2015

George Meadus Robbins

Some searches are more difficult than most due to the lack of any records. However, it is usually only one thread of information that we need to unravel the whole story.
I recently received the WWI trio awarded to 12866 George Meadus Robbins, Royal Marine Artillery, from Ron B of Guildford West NSW. There is no record of George being in Australia so how his medals ended up here is a mystery. There is also very little information in the UK records other than a couple of census entries where he is referred to as George M.
The only time I came across his full name is on one Ancestry family tree. I was soon in touch with the owner who very generously helped me out.
The following information is what we put together.
George was:
born on 26 Dec 1890 in Lewisham, Kent
living in Lewisham in the 1891 census
living in Kidbrooke in the 1901 census
enlisted in the Royal Marine Artillery on 23 Feb 1912
It is possible he died in 1955 in Portsmouth.
George had four siblings.
William Frank Robbins, born 1883 in Chichester, married in 1910 to Ellen Rapley. They had two children - Violet May Robbins, born 1911 in Chertsey; and William J Robbins, born 1919 in Chertsey.
Keturah Ellen Grath Robbins, born 1885 in Chichester.
Henry James Robbins, born 1887 in Chichester, for marriage see above.
Frederick John Robbins, born 1889 in Chichester.
Henry appears to have served in the Canadian Army during WWI.  He married Lilian Allen in Deptford, London on 10 Dec 1917 - so he must have been granted leave. His occupation on marriage is give as CFA which which confirms the service during WWI.
Keturah was known as Ellen or Helen and we think she was married to a W Evans.
None of this information led either Andrew or I to locate any descendents in this generation. Andrew then provided the following. George's mother was Keturah Jane Meadus and her brother named James Meadus. His great grand son is Mark (born in Portsmouth, England) and his son is Adam.
Based on all this research I've been in contact with Adam and I'll be sending the medals to him shortly.
This return could not have been done with out Andrew's considerable help.
The returned medals tally is now 1674.

03 May 2015

The 2014 Christmas Tale continues

More success from Bill.

Last December I wrote a story entitled ‘A Christmas Tale – A Work in Progress’. 
Slowly the story of the return of those medals is coming to an end. On the Saturday prior to Anzac Day 2015 I had the honour of passing to Phillip his grandfather’s WW1 Victory Medal.
2525 Charles Henry Craike passed away in 1956. Sometime after this his medals disappeared.
That is until the Victory Medal was handed into Anzac House here in Melbourne. The person leaving it offered no details as to how it had come into their possession.
Even though Charles passed his enlistment medical examination he would later be diagnosed with having chronic flat feet. This calls in to question how thorough enlistment medicals were in 1916. However, the skills Charles had acquired as a bank clerk saw him promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant and employed in the Graves Service.
Perhaps it was while doing this important work in France that he meet Jeane Julia Lasson, the young lady he married in July 1919 and who later followed him to Australia.

The returned medal tally is now 1671.

02 May 2015

Vietnam War medals to RAAF

It is not a common occurrence that we receive medals from conflicts other than WWI or WWII. When we do there is an urgency to resolve the research since the veteran or their immediate family are probably desperate to locate their medals.
This story is of a Vietnam War group of medals awarded to A118818 Graham Patrick McAuliffe. Graham served with 2 Squadron, RAAF during the Vietnam War.
I received the medals from Peter who came across them in Newcastle NSW. The combined effort of the 2 Squadron RAAF Association and Christina from the DVA Nominal Roll staff has led to locating Graham's family and the medals will soon be returned.
The returned medal tally is now 1670.

30 April 2015

The 'Curse' of the little gold safety pin part 2

The next chapter from Bill.

My second story concerns a Defence Long Service Medal. In this case while the enquiry came via the normal route of Anzac House, the story of its successful conclusion is a little different .
Here it was a case of Glyn riding to the fore. From the time I emailed the details of the medal until I received a reply was a little under 5 minutes of which only 34 seconds was actual research time, as Glyn has oh so modestly informed me.
Saturday in Melbourne was a cold and wet day and as you will read over the ensuing days, the curse struck regularly. At present I am looking at the results of it. However, in this case it was thanks to Rod Mills the President of the Victorian Veteran Military Corps and his eagle eye, who found the medal that set in chain the series of events that saw it returned. Bob the ‘owner’ has promised to have the medal ‘fixed’, so perhaps we have again defied the ‘curse’.
Last weekend in Melbourne two families learned Murphy’s first and second rule of dynamics, that if a pin looks weak, it is and if a medal ribbon is frayed then it will not last.
This year for two families the lesson was free, the medals have ‘come home’.
(34 seconds Grr!!)

The returned medal tally is now 1662. Thanks to Roland for his assistance

The 'Curse' of the little gold safety pin

The first story from Bill about medals lost on Anzac Day.
Anzac Day has come and gone and as expected several newly ‘lost’ medals have found their way to Glyn and myself. The first two stories of today are so similar it is almost a case of change the names and rewrite the same story. 
People forget exactly how heavy service medals are and how light are safety pins. Even with a safety clip to hold it in place.
Our first story which involved the successful return of a Australia Service Medal 1939-1945 started as many of our Anzac Day searches have, with an email from Jude Beshears at ANZAC House.
It ended this afternoon when I spoke to Graeme about his father’s lost medal.
Yes, he admitted the ribbon did look a bit frayed, but he thought it would last a bit longer. It might have had it not been worn by his bandsman son on Anzac Day.
And of course the ‘Curse’.

The returned medal tally is now 1661.

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.