19 April 2014

John Jamison 3rd Light Horse Regiment

For the first few years after I started this endeavor, I would let people looking to return them keep the medal while I got on with the research. Unfortunately, on several occasions after having found a family, I discovered that the person with the medal had changed their mind, had given the medal away or sold it. This left the family confused and angry and my reputation in question. I had also invested many hours of research and often paid for documents from different archives. Bill and I decided that we wouldn't conduct any research unless we had the medal first.
When I'm contacted by a donor I now explain that I wont conduct any research without the medal.  In most cases this is an acceptable arrangement and I also commit to advising the donor of the outcome. The odd person would prefer not to send me the medal and do their own research. However, every now and then a set of circumstances arises which makes me disregard this policy altogether.
I was recent contacted by Frank of South Australia. Frank had the Victory Medal awarded to 1025 Trooper John Jamison. John was a member of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, he died of disease and is buried in the Cairo War Cemetery.
John was from a large family, however, through death at infancy of the consequences of WWI only one of his siblings had a child of their own. Several of John's siblings were close to Frank's family and many years ago they gave him John's medal as there was no member of the Jamison family to pass it to. Based on this I thought it completely appropriate for Frank to retain the medal while I got on with the research.
Thanks to some assistance from a SA genealogy group I'm a member of on Face Book I was able to piece together John's family tree. As I mentioned, one of his sisters did marry and have her own daughter but she had no children of her own. That line of the Jamison family ran out.
I then went back and looked at John's father's siblings. John's father's name was Frank. Through funeral notices of the Adelaide papers I found that Frank was the son of Frank and 'Granny' Jamison. Frank senior was the second husband of 'Granny'. She was actually Elizabeth Sivor and her first husband was Richard Harrowfield. Elizabeth and Richard had a couple of sons, one being James Nash Harrowfield. This is Trooper Jamison's uncle. I followed this line through to the current generation and today I spoke to a member of the Harrowfield family. I've connected them with Frank and I'm sure that in the near future the medal will be returned to the family.
The returned medal tally is now 1438.

27 March 2014

Samuel Cryer

This pair of WWI medals was sent to me by the WA RSL. They were awarded to 21904 Samuel Cryer. Samuel served in the Border Regiment but the details I had on him were rather thin. After revisiting this search on several occasions I found Samuel included on the Ancestry family tree of Teresa F.
After I contacted Teresa she passed my details to Samuel's grand daughter who has recently been in contact with me. I'll be sending these medal back to the family in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now 1437 (there has been another return in recent days which I'm unable to publish the details about).

20 March 2014

William Lord

This medal was also sent to me by Garry J who sent me the WWII War Medal awarded to 254982 Douglas Yule Thomson.  It is a WWI British War Medals awarded to 4529 William Edward Lord, 9th BN AIF.  Once again, thanks to Ancestry.com.au, I quickly found William on a family tree. I fired off a message and I have now been in contact with William's grand daughter, Anne. I'll arrange to send her the medal in the near future.
Thanks once again to Garry. The returned medal tally is now 1433.

18 March 2014

Another quiet return

Every so often I receive a request from a Police force asking to research some medals they have come across. The circumstances usually involve a theft and sometimes there is some need for some prudence with the details. Last week I received a request from the WA Police about just such a discovery. Based on the name, which was a we known Perth family, I was able to point the police in the direct of the veterans son.
Today I was informed that the family has been contacted and the medals will soon be returned.
The returned medal tally is now 1432.

17 March 2014

Douglas Thomson

This is a very short post, a little like the amount of research that when in to it.
Last week I received the WWII War Medal awarded to 254982 Douglas Yule Thomson from Garry J. As soon as I saw the hand engraved naming I know it was a RAAF issue.
Yesterday I got down to doing some research and within seconds of starting I had, via Ancestry.com.au, a lead on Donald's family. Within a minute I had sent a message to the tree owner and today I received a response from Donald's son David. I'll arrange to send him the medal in the near future.
Thanks go to Garry. The returned medal tally is now 1427.
The photo shows hand engraving which is typical for RAAF WWII medals.

09 March 2014

Samuel James Steele - case closed

This particular search started when I received an email from Major Dan H. Dan had a 1914-15 Star awarded to 2248 PTE Samuel James Steele. When the medal arrived I was immediately intrigued by the unit that Steele was posted to - the 2nd Remount Unit. I knew what this type of unit did but I'd had not seen a medal to this unit before. The AIF remount units received, prepared and forwarded horses to light horse units fighting in Palestine. Steele's service record gave me several clues about him including his wife's name, his place and year of birth and some correspondence in the 1940s with his address. Usually this amount of information is sufficient to provide a clear linage to the current generation.
In this case I was totally wrong. Each lead in the service record yielded nothing. There was also a large discrepancy between the place of birth listed on the WWI enlistment papers and what was later stated in a Salutatory Declaration. The usual sources that I access gave me no new leads, I really hit a brick wall. I couldn't move forward so I looked backwards.
Steele's WWI record mentioned in two locations that he had served in the Boer War. This was the first real break through and the following story unfolded.



Mention of the Boer War battle at Wilmansrust may spark little or no recognition these days. Several articles have been written about this action in recent years; however, the event seems destined to fade into Australian Military History largely unremembered. Taking into consideration that the battle itself was more obscure than many others in which Australians have fought, this is perhaps not surprising, but the subsequent scandal following the event is worthy of recognition. This scandal had a significant impact on decisions that were later made concerning the fledgling Australian federation’s military force.
I stumbled upon the name Wilmansrust quite by accident as a result of the brief mention that Steele served during the Boer War. Subsequent research unearthed the story of the Wilmansrust battle, the subsequent scandal and 1142 Private James Steele’s role tumbled out.
It took a while to confirm, however, it is certain that 2248 Private Samuel James Steele and 1142 Private James Steele are the same man. That was the second significant piece of research that went in to this story. This is a picture of Steele published at the time he departed for the Boer War.

The Battle at Wilmansrust.
The 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles (5th VMR) arrived in South Africa in February of the year 1901 with a compliment of 46 officers, 971 other ranks, and 1099 horses. By June of that year, the regiment, now numbering around 700 men, was allocated to a column under the command of Major General S.B. Beatson, a British officer. The regiment was split in to two wings. Major Umphelby commanded the right wing. Major McKnight commanded the left wing. McKnight was allocated two small artillery pieces under the command of a British artillery officer by the name of Major Morris. Although Major McKnight was the senior Victorian officer of his wing, he answered to Major Morris.
Major McKnight’s wing was tasked to sweep towards a reported Boer encampment that they found to be abandoned. The left wing then commenced its return to the main column but by the afternoon of 12 Jun 1901, with Major McKnight and his men approximately 20km from the main column, Major Morris ordered a halt, and for the men to make camp near Wilmansrust farm. To provide security, Major Morris, who was in charge, set pickets. At the camp proper the men centralised their weapons away from their tents as ordered, and slept prior to being required for duty. The on duty pickets numbered 120 of the total force of 350; furthermore, each picket was some distance apart and was not supported by a patrolling program or a communication system. Unfortunately, this was also observed by the Boers.
After the 5th VMR camp settled down, the Boer Commandant Muller led a group of commandos between the pickets and on into the camp. The time was 1930. The Boer numbers are reported to have been between 120 and 170. During the assault it has been noted that the Boer commandos spoke in English and were dressed in khaki, which added significantly to the confusion. Majors McKnight and Morris were captured, the outer pickets did not assist and within 15 minutes the battle was over leaving 18 men from the 5th VMR killed and 41 wounded. The Boers departed with the artillery pieces, horses, ammunition and other supplies. After having walked a short way with the captured officers the Boers released them when they realised they had no way to hold them.
Major General Beatson held the 5th VMR completely responsible for this disaster. Shortly after the battle he came across some members of the regiment who were bayoneting a pig and is quoted as saying, ‘Yes, that’s just about what you men are good for. When the Dutchmen came along the other night you didn’t fix bayonets and charge them, but you go for something that can’t hit back.’
Following this, a further insult against the 5th VMR was again made by Major General Beatson, this time in the presence of two Australian Officers, Major Harris and Captain Anderson. It is reported that Beatson said, ‘I tell you what I think; the Australians are a fat, round shouldered, useless lot of wasters.’ Harris remonstrated with Beatson and declared he would note the General’s comment. Beatson responded, ‘Do by all means, and you can add if you like that in my opinion they are a lot of white-livered cur….You can add dogs too’.
The Mutiny.
 In July, the 5th VMR was again allocated to be under Beatson’s command. This caused much discussion amongst the soldiers. One was overheard to say, ‘We’ll be a lot of fools if we go out with him again. It will be better for the men to be shot than to go out with a man who called them white livered curs’. The man accused of making this statement was Steele, who was quickly arrested with the two other men present, Privates Arthur Richards and Herbert Parry.
The sentence.
The three were very quickly court martialled for mutiny and on 11 July 1901 were found guilty and sentenced to death. Lord Kitchener quickly commuted the sentences to prison terms with hard labour. Steele received ten years, and Richards and Parry received one year each.
An inquiry was also held into the decisions of Major Morris at the battle. Due to his overall command status at Wilmansrust, the Morris was censured.
Parliament.
The Australian press was soon reporting the story and there was considerable public outcry, leading to it being reprinted in papers all across the country as well as in New Zealand.  The matter was soon brought before the new Parliament and the Prime Minister Sir Edmund Barton, who then petitioned King Edward VII as the prisoners were by then in England. The King intervened and secured the prisoners’ release and return to South Africa and then home to Victoria. The British Judge Advocate General later quashed the convictions
Letter to brother-in-law.
Amongst all the articles published about Steele was a letter which he wrote to his brother-in-law from prison. This provided proof that Steele had a wider family than just his wife, though unfortunately the brother-in-law’s name is not given.
At the end of this story I've included several of the news paper stories and a published version of this letter that appeared in the papers at the time.
Aftermath.
The ‘Wilmansrust Scandal’, as it became known, had a considerable impact on public opinion in Australia, though it was later overshadowed by the Breaker Morant execution early in 1902. The more recent popularity of the Morant story has probably assisted in pushing the Wilmansrust episode further into the shadows. That being said, the treatment of Steele, Richards and Parry probably played a bigger part than the Morant case did in shaping Australia’s laws concerning Australian soldiers being subject to capital punishment.
This policy to retain disciplinary control by Australian authorities during WWI rather than allow Imperial discipline to occur, was a significant decision for the new Commonwealth. It may also have played a role in the larrikin attitude of Australian soldiers during WWI, knowing that the death penalty would not be applied to them.
News paper report.
Steele appears in the newspapers again other than in the stories about Wilmansrust, as having assaulted a policeman in 1902 in Deniliquin. He served 6 months hard labour. This is his prison photo.
WWI.
Samuel James Steele next appears in official documentation at his enlistment, aged 46, for service during WWI. Steele’s service record shows that he was living in Queensland when he enlisted, and that his wife’s name was Jessie. While the enlistment attestation paper mentions his Boer War service there is no specific mention of Wilmansrust.
Steele made it to the theater of war in late 1915, which made him eligible for the 1914-15 Star. He was also awarded the British war Medal and the Victory Medal. Steele returned to Australia and was discharged in Brisbane.His service record shows that disciplinary action was taken on several occasions and were related to alcohol use.
There is no evidence of him on the electoral rolls, nor on any of the ‘births, deaths and marriages’ rolls in either Queensland or Victoria. A letter from 1943 that appears in his service record shows that he was living in Melbourne at the time, but after that there are no further records on him.

So, despite all this information I was really getting no where. Following the success of the McCarthy story I contacted Jennifer King from ABC to see if she would be interested in another story. The end result was this online edition.
The story generated considerable interest. I had hoped that a relative would read it and come forward. No such luck. What I did get were emails from several people each of who had a small piece of information. It took me about a fortnight to piece everything together but I eventuality work out a family tree.
Samuel James Steele was the son of James (John) Steele and Elizabeth Conway. The family was from Ballarat. I think that the place on birth that Samuel James gave on his WWI papers was a ruse. This town was Korumburra and on the opposite of Victoria to Ballarat. One of Samuel James' sisters married in to a family from there so I think it was adopted as the place of birth. John died in 1887 and this is his head stone.
One of Samuel James' sisters married Walter Blews from Korumburra and it is Walter who is the brother in law that Samuel James wrote to from prison. Another sister, Elizabeth married Albert Alway and it is this branch of the family that I was able to follow. I got as far as the current generation but once again I went back wards in this search.
The one constant piece of information that I had for his family is that from about 1900 they lived at an address in Camberwell. It kept cropping up in the electoral rolls. I was eventually put in touch Elizabeth's grand daughter, Jean, who is alive and well aged 90. Jean only sold the Camberwell home 4 months ago to move in to a retirement village. Jean was able to confirm all my research and add a bit more. It would appear that Samuel James was referred to a Jim and he and Jessie weren't actually married but lived together for many years. Jim was living in the Camberwell house at one point when Jean was a toddler which is an amazing link with this research. Jean is Samuel James' great niece.
I'll be sending the medal to Jean in the near future. I've individual thanked all the people who were able to assist me with this search, however, I would like to single out Jen King for her assistance. The extent this body of work is also one of the reasons that there has not been many other stories posted in recent weeks. The returned medal tally is 1426.







27 February 2014

Some stories just can't be told

Over the years I've returned some medals that for one reason or another I haven't posted any details. The reason are a little varied but generally revolve around a desire by the donor or the family not to be identified. Every now and the the story about the soldier is one where discretion needs to be maintained. I've had three such cases in the last couple of weeks and I have chosen not to publish any details out of respect to one or more of the parties involved.
I hope readers understand these circumstances.
The returned medal tally is now 1425.

24 February 2014

David Frederick Hart

This search commenced in October 2013 when the WWII War Medal awarded to S42465 Dave Frederick Hart was sent to me via my friend Sandra. Hart was from South Australia and as most family history researchers know, the available records from SA are a little thin compared to other states. I did find that Hart had three children but other than their first names I had no other information.
I recently found mention of Hart on an Ancestry family tree from Chris C. Chris had contacted a distant relative and was able to provide me the married names and spouse's names of all Hart's children. Armed with the initial of Hart's son and his wife I found a similar entry in the White Pages so I took a punt and gave the number a call. Sure enough I had the right family.
Thanks go to Sandra and Chris. The medal will be on its way to David Hart's son in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now 1417.

23 February 2014

Samuel James Steele update

The Steele research is resolved. It is quite complicated so I'll have to spend some time writing it up and consulting with ABC about a follow on story.

17 February 2014

16 February 2014

Fred Hayes

S8355 Able Seaman Fred Hayes served in the RAN during WWII. He married a little later in life and didn't have any children with his wife Daphne. It is though Daphne's family that I've located a family member who I'll send the medal to in the near future.
Thank you to Anna G who pointed me in the right direction and to Bob GG who provided me with some additional information and to whom I'll send the medal. This medal was originally sent to me by the Dee Why RSL.
The returned medal tally is now 1416.

13 February 2014

Joseph Miller

This has been another difficult search for several reason.
After I received the medals from the NSW RSL, via the Wauchope Sub Branch, I found there was something not quite right. The medals are named to WX731 J. Miller. However, this number was allocated to Cecil Fitzgerald. A bit of effort revealed that our man was actually VX731 Joseph Miller. I have seen mistakes on medals before but they are not common and usually the veteran will return them for correction.
Once I sorted out who was who the long task of finding a family member started. This then proved to be the second and more difficult hurdle. Bill and I enlisted the Australian Surname Group but all the leads were dry holes.
That was until today when I received a surprise email from Laurie who is Miller's nephew. He had come across listing on the web and got in touch. Another nice addition to this group is that Miller was Mentioned in Dispatches
The returned medal tally is now 1415. The pace is picking up a bit.



12 February 2014

Arthur Smith

The first thing I found out about 60474 Flight Lieutenant Arthur Leonard Manning Smith was that he died of disease in 1946. This information led me to an entry on the Australian War Memorial site and also the RAAF casualty data base. This last link held a surprise by including a photo of Smith's headstone which I've added below.
The next step was to look for the WWII service record which I found on the NAA website. This record makes interesting reading and surprisingly a photo of Smith (on the first page of the record).
Smith's NOK was listed as his father so there was no wife or children to look for. As far as I could work out he was an only child so back I went through his parents families. His mother's maiden name was Sevenoaks which made the search a little easier. This lead me down the line of Smith's uncle. Today I spoke to Smith's second cousin and will send the medals to Eva in the near future.
The medal is one which I don't see to often it is the France and Germany Star primary awarded to
aircrew.
Thanks go to Vicki D who sent me this and medals to three other soldiers.
The returned medals tally is now 1410.



09 February 2014

PTE Samuel Yeardley MM

Things have been a little quite recently so I have been busy reviewing old cases. Today I pulled out the card of Private Samuel Yeardley who I first wrote about 4 years ago. This is what I posted at the time:

I recently received a Queens South Africa Medal awarded to PTE S.Yeardley Cape Medical Staff Corps. I decided to put up a post now rather than wait until the search is resolved as the medal is not one I usually deal with and putting Yeardley's name out on the Internet might pull in some more clues.
Through the British Medal Forum I was provided a link to the Boer War nominal roll that has Yeardley's name although spelt Yardley. I also found the original of this list. Unfortunately neither gave me a clue as to where Yeardley came from. I took a punt and searched the AIF data base and got a hit. I got a bit excited when I saw he was an MM winner but nothing linked the S. Yeardley of the Boer War to the S. Yeardley of WWI. So off I went to the Australian Archives and found this record. On the first page was a clue that they might be the same fellow. In answer to the question about previous military service there is the comment; '12 months 21th Field Hospital Anglo Boer War'. This is by no means conclusive but a very strong link.
Making the assumption that they are the same fellow I started searching the NSW BDM as WWI Yeardley was discharged in 2 MD (NSW). Given the clues from the service record I located some details for Samuel Yeardley who married Doris Parr in 1924 and died in 1961. Doris was born in 1891 and died in 1978.
Bill posted all this on Australian Surname Group and they have found some great information. I'm sure that it wont be long until a relative of Yeardley is found and in the mean time here are some pictures of his QSA.

Well my last sentence proved to be completely wrong.

Having exhausted the all the clues linking Doris to any close relatives I had to move further afield. Doris was the daughter of Samuel Herbert Parr and Elizabeth Mary. Doris had four siblings who either didn't marry or died young. This then led me to the siblings of Samuel Herbert Parr. One of which was John Fillingham Parr. John married Elizabeth Dennis and they had three children; Thomas Leslie, Ada Millicent and Stanley Guy. Thomas died having not married and I can not find any about Ada other then the record of her birth. I now know that Ada didn't marry. So the next line of inquiry was through Stanley, Doris' first cousin.
Stanley Parr married Katie Margret Carrington Hardcastle. They didn't have any children Kaite was one of 9 children, four died as children, four didn't have any children, however, one sibling had one son, John.
John is a WWII veteran and now in his 90s. I spoke to him today and he as very clear memories of Stanley. Even though he is a distant relation by marriage to Samuel he has kindly agreed to become the custodian of Samuel's medal.
Thank you to Henry C who sent me the medal on 16 Feb 10. Afteralmost 4 years this search is finally over.
The returned medal tally is now 1409.



08 January 2014

Mark Tuite

This Victory medal awarded to 2nd LT Mark Alan Wallace Tuite is one of the few we have remaining from the NSW RSL box. Quite quickly I located the details about Tuite's death on 2 Dec 1917. However, it was the rather tangled family tree complicated by numerous deaths during WWI that made this search difficult..
Tuite was from an aristocratic family with many senior officers amongst them. His great grand father was the 9th Baronet of Sonagh. The Baronetcy has now passed down the line of his great uncle. In that branch alone there was a Major General and many who served as subalterns. Mark's father was a naval officer, his uncle (10th Baronet) was a Colonel and his cousin a Lieutenant Colonel whose body was never found. As part of my search for a close family member I have received some great information from a distant relative. This is a summary of the information I have received:
1. 1911 Census. Mark, born Hampstead, was working as a journalist and living with father Henry, mother Marion and sister Honor at 45 Croxted Road. Father, Henry, was employed as an etcher, probably of photos since he was a photo engineer in 1901 and a portrait artist in 1891.
2. Messines & Third Ypres. Extracts from Landships-British Tank accounts of the First World War - sites.google.com/site/landships
Messines. 7 June 1917
6 Company. B Battalion with 25th and 36th Divisions, and the II ANZAC Corps (H2), 2nd Army
9 Section - Capt. Croxford
B41 2035   2Lt Tuite
Account of Operations - 9 Section: Three tanks reached their objective to find the infantry (H2), who had started earlier than intended, already there. B41 (2035) reached O27c at 9am engaged a battery at 250 yards range and thus enabled the infantry (H2) to capture it then returned to the RP. The Battalion history states that three tanks reached their objective and helped mop up. The battle graph indicates only B41 (2035) fired on the enemy.
Third Ypres. 31 July 1917
6 Company, B Battalion, with II Corps, 5th Army
9  Section - Lt AC Harcourt
B41 2035  “Boomerang”  2Lt MAW Tuite
Account of Operations - 9 Section: Three tanks proceeded to the junction just east of Clapham Junction where they found the infantry held up by MG fire from Glencourse Wood and Inverness copse. B41 (2035) engaged an enemy MG but became ditched south of the Menin Road. They engaged the enemy who were counter attacking towards Chateau Wood. B41 (2035) successfully unditched using its unditching gear but was unable to get up the Bank onto the Menin Road.  
3. LT Harcourts's DSO. 'On November 30, in the attack to capture Gouzeaucourt, this officer led his section of tanks into action. When one of his section commanders, 2nd LT Tuiet, was wounded, this officer, borrowed a horse and rode back for a stretcher, which he then took back under shell fire' Harcourt survived the war and went on to command 2nd Royal Tank Regiments in North Africia in 1940/41. He died in 1946
4.  Mark's Cousins. Lt-Col Henry Mark Tuite was wounded in command of the rearguard action when Vauix-Vraucourt was lost on 24 March 1918. His body was never found and he has no known grave. Lt Brian Hugh Morgan Tuite survived the war but a gunshot wound to his left arm, 9 October 1916, necessitated an emergency partial amputation in France followed by a secondary amputation in England.
Mark is one of 22 relatives who perished in WW1 that I'm researching via Google. I add the retrieved information to my family tree on 'ancestry' in hope that the site is available long after I'm gone. 
Thanks to JP for all this great information and to Simon from the British Medal Forum for his assistance. I'm now contacted the most appropriate branch of the family to receive the medal. This Victory Medal is in almost as issued condition and how it got to Australia is a mystery.
The returned medal tally is now 1408.


William Dyce

This search was a little complicated because of the soldier taking his step father's name but keeping his own surname as well. Once I had sorted that out it became a bit easier to located details about William Irvine Dyce.
William was 19 when he was killed in action at Gallipoli. Luckily, this bio provided a wealth of information about William's wider family. The bio also contained a photo which I've added below. William's brother didn't survive for many years after WWI due to his own injuries so the immediate family line appeared to end. Using Ancestry.com there was no clues which indicated any family connection for me to chase down.
Knowing that William was from a small island community I took a punt and wrote to the local paper, The Orcadian, to see it I could locate any family members. Shortly after publication of this letter I received an email for the a great niece of William's on his mother's side. The medals will be sent to this family in the near future.
Thanks goes to Max of Geraldton who acted as the intermediary between donor family and me. The medals were originally obtained by another veteran with the sole purpose of returning them to the family. How they turned up in Australia is anyone's guess.
The returned medal tally is now 1407.



Cyril McCarthy - the final chapter

Regular readers will remember the story of Cyril McCarthy and his WWI dog tag that was recently found in a French field. This is the original story, update 1 and update 2.
This search came to a wonderful conclusion recently when I received the dog tag from Philippe in France and arrangements were put in place for me to meet Cyril's grand son Bernie and hand it back. ABC journalist Jennifer King wrote the original story that started this journey and has also been heavily involved in bring it to a close. This link has Jennifer's on line story and an embedded video of the TV news report.

02 January 2014

Alan Barcham

This is a very short story which does not do justice to the hours of research put in by Bill and Liz from the Australian Surname Group.
I received the Australian Service Medal 1939-45 awarded to NX72330 Alan Herbert Barcham from Heather K in January 2011. The suspender bar on the medal is missing which is how I suspect that the medal became separated from the rest of the group. Thanks to Liz's research, Bill was recently able to contact Alan's son and I'll return the medal to the family in the near future.
The returned medal tall y is now 1405.

19 December 2013

Michael James Fitzgerald

The resolution of this search came about after a number of small threads came together to present the full picture. A little bit of luck also went my way.
1856 T-CPL Michael James Fitzgerald originally enlisted with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment. His service record doesn't provide much detail about where he served but it would appear that he transferred to the field artillery as a driver and ended up in France.
I couldn't find any evidence that Fitzgerald married so my search extended to his siblings. After a false start in March this year I revisited the search yesterday. Fitzgerald was one of 13 children, one sister was Bridgett who married Reginald Roy Shanks. I found an interesting story about a deserter that Shanks was sent to arrest.
It is through Bridgett's family that I focused my research. Reginald and Bridgett son was Gerald who in turn had three children. As luck would have it I found a family tree which provided me the name of his daughter and who she married. This name is quite unusual and I could only find one similar on line. Taking a punt (yet again) I called this person and sure enough I had the right family. The lady I spoke to is Fitzgerald's great niece and I'll send her the medals in the near future.
Thanks goes to Ken Duncan who sent the medal to me originally.
The returned medal tally is now 1404.
 

18 December 2013

Dr T Ray Bradley

This is one search where time didn't quite work in my favour.
I received the WWII War Medal awarded to 449645 Thomas Ray Bradley in March 2012. Using service records and the electoral rolls I was able to follow Bradley and his family up until 1980. One firm piece of information I did find was that he went by the name T. Ray Bradley and was a doctor.
There is a significant amount of information available about Dr Bradley on the Internet mainly to do with his research in to the treatment of cancer. He was also made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1990. What I wasn't able to find was any contact details. Appeals to the research institutes that provide prizes in Dr Bradley's name yielded no additional information.
Yesterday I revisited this search and I immediately got a hit on Dr Bradley's name, unfortunately it was his obituary. Dr Bradley died in August 2013.
Thanks to Dr Ray Marginson, the obituary author, and Dr Juliet Flesch, I was able to contact Dr Bradley's daughter, Julie. Thanks also goes to Andrew Cairns who originally sent me the medal. This concludes the research of all the medals that Andrew has forwarded to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1402.


16 December 2013

Leslie Lewry

6010481 Leslie Lewry saw service in the British Army during WWII for which he was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medals and the War Medal. He then served in Palestine as part of the British involvement following WWII. For this Leslie was awarded the General Service Medal. Luckly this medal is named so I was able to start searching for him.
In the 1950s Leslie and his wife Elvery moved to Sydney and eventually settled in Perth. Using the electoral rolls and cemetery records I was able to gain a solid picture of their life in Australia. Unfortunately, they did not have any children.
By going backwards through the British records I established that Leslie had two brothers, Richard and David. It is through David's family that I have locate a family member to return theses medals to. Having focused most of my search in the UK I find that I'll end up sending these medals to Brisbane.
Thanks go to Pam McG who sent me the medals.
This return takes us past a significant milestone. The returned medal tally is now 1401.

14 December 2013

Ernest Arthur Horne

From start to finish this search has taken over 6 years. Using the service record of 493 PTE Ernest Arthur Horne, 6th LHR, I could work out snippets of his life. Ernest was 39 when he enlisted for WWI. Prior to this he had served for 8 years with the Natal Mounted Police. He saw active service on Gallipoli and after the withdraw he served in the Sinai and Palestine campaign. The service record also provided the date of his death in 1950. Using this date I could match up his death from the NSW BDM and confirm that his father and mother were Robert and Elizabeth Horne. The NOK details given upon enlistment were his mother, Mrs E Horne at an address in London and his sister, Mrs William MacKinnon of Aberdeen. Then the trail went very cold.
Evey so often I'll revisit a search to see if anything new can be found. I've had a look at he Horne search several times but no new information has ever presented itself. That was until today. Using William MacKinnon as a start point I found a MacKinnon family listed in the Scottish 1901 census living in the same street as appears in the service record. The wife was listed as Alison F MacKinnon. More searching showed that Alison F was in fact Alison Frances Horne, the daughter of Robert and Elizabeth. 10 minutes after starting I had the link I needed.
Using all these new names, I found a family tree on Ancestry that included Alison and Ernest. The tree owner lives in Perth so a little more searching gave me a phone number and I was soon talking to the descendants of James Charles Horne the elder brother of Alison and Ernest.
The first 6 years of his search was pretty difficult, however, the last 60 minutes proved very successful. As can be seen from the photo this Victory Medal has had a hard life. It has been heavily polished as the details of the angels face are not very distinct. The edge is very dented and looks to have been run over with a lawn mower.
Thank you to Deborah N who sent the medal to me in June 2007.
The  returned medal tally is now 1396.



13 December 2013

Thomas Wingrave

Yesterday I was visited by two wonderful friends, Karen and Steve Betterton. Over coffee Karen dived in to her bag and retrieved a WWI British War Medal. It had been found amongst her families possessions but the soldier was not a relative. The medal was awarded to 2215 PTE Thomas Horace Victor Wingrave who served with 18th Battalion, AIF.
Thomas was about 30 when he enlisted and with such a distinctive name I thought he would be easy to follow. Using the electoral rolls I could follow him from Victoria in 1909 to Queensland in 1913, back to Victoria after the War and final to NSW where he died in 1942. The information was a bit thin but it was more the story it didn't tell which helped me make some assumptions. Based on the lack of any evidence I assumed that Thomas didn't marry or have children.
I then went back to the WWI service records and using Thomas' birth place as a start point I was able to connect him with 4525 PTE Wisdom Herbet Wingrave. This then lead me to LT Frederick John Wingrave, Wisdom's son. Frederick served with 2nd Pioneer Battalion, AIF and there is a picture at this link of the battalion's officers. Frederick is in the back row, third from the right.
By using all these names I was able to locate a family tree on Ancestry.com.au. I fired off a message earlier this afternoon to the tree owner and I've since heard back from Joan who is Thomas' great niece. Joan tells me she met Thomas when she was young and was able to confirm that he didn't marry.
Thanks to Karen how gave me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1395.

Kevin Spencer

Earlier this year I received a parcel forwarded to me by my friend Sandra which contained service documents, dog tags and a Lodge medal belonging to Kevin Stuart Spencer. I've now located Kevin's sister and I'll be sending all these items to her in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now 1394.

30 November 2013

Edwards post update

The post about Brigadier Edwards has been updated. A portrait photo of Edwards has been added.

23 November 2013

William Dillon

Another fine example of Bill's research skills.



One of the problems of taking over someone’s desk, is the unintended consequences of what you inherit. So began the story of the 1939-1945 Australian Service Medal of TX14559 (T40914) William Rock Dillon. In fact it probably began more than 5 or so years before, when Bill’s ASM was found in a street in Hobart, Tasmania. The medal eventually found its way to a Government Department in Hobart, where it was duly noted, put in an envelope and put in a drawer. It could possibly still be there but for Chloe in Veterans Affairs, who inherited the desk and by default the medal. She then decided that the medal must belong to someone and that it was time it was sent back either to the recipient or his next of kin.
Enter yours truly.
Unfortunately, War Graves did not have a date of death, so I was then left with Trove, which not only gave me Bill’s date of death, but led me back to the State Library, and a veritable treasure trove  (no pun intended) of Bill’s family. As I followed William’s family I became at times confused by its sheer size. It was one of those searches where by the time you have worked out the family, in this case from Death notices, you really have to sit down and rethink exactly what it is you have worked out.
Armed with a great list of names, but not knowing which other that those whose surname was Dillon, may have been related, I started a slow search. Initially, via the Electoral Roll, then the White Pages going back towards 1999, to find one of Bill’s descendants.
It was as a result of this that last Tuesday I spoke to John, Bill’s son who was quite surprised to learn that his father had received medals for his time in the Army. As far as he knew his father had been training horses for the Army, for transport, and had never left Tasmania. To which I explained that it was not necessary to be posted overseas, to receive medals for service.
His next question which is one I could not answer, was ‘well who would have got Dad’s medals?” Quickly followed by “We are a Launceston family, always have been, there are no relatives as far as I know living in Hobart!”
To which I had no answer. But John has Dad’s medal.
Chloe, as you will be reading, this well done. And thank you for trusting me to find a next of kin.
The returned medal tally is now 1391.

21 November 2013

Len Guildford

Bill and our ever supportive friends from the Australian Surname Group have done some extraordinary research to fianilse this search. This Bill's story.



The return of the Guildford family medals show what can be achieved when a group of people, Kerry, a carpenter, the team from the Australian Surname Group and Jude at ANZAC House come together in a common cause.
When VX58124 Len Guildford, a WW2 Warrant Officer, passed away in 1990, his medals were lost to his family. Also with Len’s medals lost so were the WW1 medals of his father 5057 L/Cpl. Charles Alfred Guilford. At the conclusion of the search, when I spoke to Len’s daughter Cynthia, she explained how for many years she has looked for her father’s medals, but to no avail. She had not even known of her Grandfather’s medals. The whole family collection would have remained lost were it not for Kerry, who found the medals in a tin box in the roof of a house he was renovating.
Kerry’s first approach was to try and return the medals himself, but as he later admitted, that was not as easy as he first thought. His next step was to ANZAC House, where Jude passed him my details; and so the second search began.
It has been a complex, frustrating and tiring search, in other words a standard ‘Lost Medals Australia’ bang your head against the wall, search. Complicating it was when Len, a widower, married for the second time. He and his wife then moved to the Gold Coast. However, when Len passed away in 1990, his wife returned to Melbourne where she lived until 2001.
Now while a family tree is a major step in finding relatives, sometimes it can be a confusing barrier. In this case the tree I developed came from Charles and Florence Guildford’s (Len’s parents) death notices in the Argus newspaper but only the first names were ever mentioned.
Tracing Len’s brother Ron was relatively easy, both having served in the Armed Forces during WW2. However, Ronald who never married passed away in 1947 from war injuries he received.
It was his sisters Lorna and Cynthia, who incidentally Len and his wife named their daughter after, that proved the next stumbling block.
Lorna had married in 1940, however, sadly her husband and their two adopted children, pre-deceased her. At this point all references to Lorna ceased. I still do not know when she died or where she was buried. Sadly neither does the family.
Cynthia, was a similar unknown, because of her date of birth she was did not appear on the published Birth, Death and Marriage records. Nor was there any mention of her on Trove.
So the only option now open was to try and trace Cynthia, Len’s daughter.
To this I owe a debt of gratitude to Sue of the Australian Surname Group, who traced Cynthia, actually Cynthia Ethel Guildford, through her family addresses up to 1960, however, she was absent from the 1963 Electoral Roll. But in the 1960 and 1963 Electoral Rolls there was only three women with the given names Cynthia Ethel, one in Stawell, one in Shepparton, and one living in a Melbourne bayside suburb. So assuming that Cynthia had married, the search took on a new and more complex perspective. It was this search that then brought me to Cynthia. But not before one more hitch. The Electoral Roll microfiches at the State Library only go up to 2008. So where to next?
Answer; the White Pages, in particular the White Pages for 2008, where I looked up Cynthia and her husband’s telephone number. The reason being that while people may change addresses and Cynthia and her husband, who it transpired, were house renovators, and had moved every 4 to 5 years, didn’t change how they had their names and initials printed in the phone book. At home an hour later and I was speaking to Cynthia.
While there is always a certain amount of satisfaction when you return medals, I do not know who is the happiest, Cynthia to have both the medals of her Grandfather and Father back, or Kerry, who is overjoyed that he was able to affect their return.
For myself I must be getting old, while I was so very glad to return the medals, this morning when I spoke to Glyn about the search I had to admit I was exhausted. That tonight would be early to bed.
However it is now 11.30 PM as I sit at my computer writing this story.
The returned medal tally is now 1390.

16 November 2013

15 November 2013

John James Budden Monaghan

This was another difficult search mainly due to the length of time since the medals were awarded.
This pair, for service during the Boer War, were awarded to 2899 Private J Monaghan who served in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Luckily, the Queen's South Africa Medal has the initial J.J.B. which helped considerably.
Through a contact on the British Medal Forum (Bart), I received the following information:
John James Budden Monaghan. Born at Frimley, Surrey. Enlisted at Gosport, 2 March 1889, aged 15 years 4 months. Discharged on termination of engagement, 1 March 1902. Next of kin was his grandmother, Eliza Budden, of Prospect Place, Netherbury, Beaminster, Dorset. He also earned an India Medal (clasps Punjab Frontier and Tirah), and received a severe gunshot wound at Enselin, 25 November 1899.
This lead me to work out Monaghan's father's name was Samuel and mother Christiana. I then located him in NZ from 1906 to 1919 working as a tailor/presser. In none of the records was there evidence that he was married.
I have since found a distant relative who I'll return the medals to. Thank you very much to Margaret S who dropped the medals at my home this week.
The returned medal tally is now 1383.
Of interest, the QSA has the ghost date numbers that were removed from the dye when the war went past 1900. This is mentioned in the Wikipedia link I provided.




Post update - 16 Nov 13

Bart of the British Medal Forum and Janet, who I'll send the medals to, have both supplied me some additional information about Monaghan.

From Bart: 'I had a quick look at the census entries too, and it struck me that Monaghan was rather alone in the world. His mother seems to have died at his birth, and his father (an Army Sergeant) does not appear to have played any part in his upbringing. He was educated at the Royal Military Asylum (afterwards renamed The Duke of York's Royal Military School), which was originally intended for orphaned children, so perhaps his father died when he was young too. His next of kin, his grandmother, died not long after he enlisted.'

From Janet: 'I have just discovered an Eliza Mary Monaghan who must have been a twin sister. She shares the same reference as John in the British Free BMD Births record. I think she must have died in infancy, but the only possible death record is for an Elizabeth Mary Monaghan; Age 0; at Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, UK.  I've just looked on the map and it's not that far from where they were born.
I've now found the death of a Samuel Monaghan in 1875 in Medway, Kent, UK; Age 32. He is living with his grandmother in the 1881 census.'