28 March 2013

People's Choice Voting Button

To vote for the Lost Medals Australia blog in the People's Choice Award please click on the button. Once at the Best Blog Competition Page click on Vote Here then scroll down and tick Lost Medals Australia. At the bottom of the page click next until you are at the last page and fill in the details to validate your vote.
Thank you for voting for Lost Medals Australia.


27 March 2013

Blog Competition

I have been encouraged to enter the Best Australian Blog Competition. There is a People's Choice Award and voting starts at 1700 on 28 March 2013.
I'll add a link tomorrow for voting and hope that word will be spread amongst my readers.

20 March 2013

Jack Thomson

When medals are awarded they come in two sizes, full size for normal wear and miniature for wearing to a dinner function. It is easy to identify who was awarded the full size medals as there name is on them. Identifying who received a miniature group is close to impossible. It is only when other evidence about the veteran is included do we have a chance. This was the case the miniature medals awarded to Lieutenant Owen Dawes where the medals came with his card and a letter from him. Unfortunately, I have received many other miniature medals that I have no hope of successfully returning.
However, in the same vein as the Dawes return, Bill has a story of his own about miniatures.

With the growing appreciation in families of their parents military service, the miniature medals that were issued to accompany their larger counterpart, once often overlooked, have now come to the fore. This is as families realise that there are two sets of medals in the family not just one and which are just as important.
But researching miniatures or even attempting to carries its own special set of problems, firstly they are not engraved, so that unless you are very lucky and you find documentation that accompanies them, then finding the original recipient or their next of kin, becomes remote. Often they end up in RSL clubs, sometimes on display sometimes not, but essentially unknown, unacknowledged and forgotten. That I find incredibly sad, it is to me, unacceptable.
Our last foray in regard to a set of miniatures, to Lieutenant Owen Dawes took over five years and that was even with a card that had his name printed on it.
However, the situation with the receipt of the medals of VX24886 Jack Thomson, was different. As different as it could be arriving as they did inside an old spectacles case, which in turn had been wrapped in the perennial brown paper parcel. Luckily, what was included in the case was the RSL life Membership Card of the recipient, Jack Thomson. Along with a cryptic note asking for the medals to be returned to Jack’s family.
Well first thought: “Glyn’s record is about to be broken”. Surely the RSL Membership Card would assist? First the club administration - “No, his membership was archived, and never put on computer”
 Then the members - but the simple task of just asking old members of the club “do you remember Jack Thomson?” Usually brought forward the following:
“He was a lovely bloke!”
“Big fella, had a terrible sense of humour”
“Was in a retirement home around here?”
“I think he died some time ago, didn’t he?” a comment often expressed to those quietly sitting around.
But no one actually seemed to remember when or from whence Jack passed away.
The end result being that after several days of going nowhere and with Glyn’s record well and truly preserved, I reverted to what would have been my normal mode of operation, and in retrospect should have been, if I had not opted for what I thought would be an easy option, of taking the RSL Club route.
 So then it was:
Check with War Graves for possible date of death (28 December 2005).
Check Ryerson for Death and Funeral notices.
Success! The Age and the Herald Sun provided 6 between them.
So now to the State Library and its newspaper archives, to look up the newspapers. First to look up the funeral directors and secondly to try and determine the rest of the family and their possible locations.  
It was this after several hours of cross referencing back and forward between old newspaper entries and the BDM’s that finally led me to Jack’s son, Kenneth who now lives in NSW.
Ken was amazed when I rang, He thought Dad’s miniatures were with the other medals which are with his brother in Darwin, whom he planned to ring the moment we hung up.
But first came the inevitable series of questions. Of which the best was “What was my dad’s medals doing in Kilmore? We have no relations there, never have.”
But as is so often the case at the end of a search when I sit down and review the search, the $64 question, and the one that Ken asked, nearly always arises. How did the medal of an ex-serviceman who died in 2005, in Bundoora get to Kilmore from whence they were sent to Jack’s old club in February this year (2013)?
Well I can’t answer that question, and I am not going to try, it may sound as a cop out but after more than a decade of returning medals it is a question, whose path I now studiously avoid.
What is important is that Jack’s medals are going back to his family, and as searches go I do not think I can ask for much more.

The returned medal tally is now 1262.

13 March 2013

Post update - Arthur Barnes

Yesterday's post about Arthur Barnes has been updated with some newspaper articles from Egypt in 1915 and his father's obituary.

12 March 2013

Arthur Barnes

681 Arthur Barnes was an early enlistee for WWI, signing up on 28 August 1914. When he enlisted he was the Town Clerk of Ulmarra in NSW. Being in such a position in the community might suggest that he would be commissioned. However, just like Burnett Gray from the St Kilda council, Arthur chose to enlist. He was one of the original soldiers of 1st Battalion, AIF.
The 1st Battalion, including Arthur, landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. He was declared as missing in action on 29 April 1915 and later confirmed as killed in action on that day. Unfortunately, Arthur was reported as being injured and that he was seen by another soldier in August 1915. This information eventually filtered back to Arthur's family causing considerable confusion. Much of Arthur's service record is taken up with correspondence about Arthur's actual circumstances including letters written by a Member of Parliament. The slowness of communications and the lack of firm information added to the sense of frustration that can be read in Arthur's father's letters to the Army.
The search for a relative of Arthur's was very frustrating but I got there in the end.

Arthur Barnes was the son of Walter and Sarah Jemima Barnes (nee Ware). Walter and Sarah Jemima had three other children but none of them married. Sarah Jemima died in 1893 and Walter Barnes remarried Ellen Townsend who became the step mother to Arthur.
As Arthur's siblings did not marry that line of the Barnes family has died out. So I next started to look at cousins. This led me to Sarah Jemima's brother Uriah Walter Ware. Uriah married Sarah Kate Barr. This was her second marriage, the first to a Mr Moffat who died in a boating accident in the mouth of the Brisbane River. Uriah took Sarah Kate's children as step children.
I did follow another research path through the son of Walter’s second wife Elizabeth Ellen. Ellen’s first husband also drowned, this time in Mackay in 1886. Ellen had one son Samuel Edward Townshend. Samuel trained as a lawyer at Sydney University. Prior to WWI he was the Register at the University of Western Australia. Samuel was commissioned in to the 16thBattalion, AIF on 2 August 1914. Samuel was also killed in action at Gallipoli, this time at Quinn’s Post on 9 May 1915. In one of his letters to the Army about Arthur, Walter mentions Samuel’s death. I learnt a lot of information about the Towshend family from this link and would like to thank Colonel John Townsend and Doctor Richard Townsend for it.
Samuel was the last of that line of the Townshend family and given the step relationships on both sides of this family I believe that the Ware connection is the closest. I have recently been in contact with the step great great grand son of Arthur’s uncle and it is to this family that two of Arthur’s three medals will be returned.

These medals are from the NSW RSL box. The returned medal tally is now 1255.

The following photo is of the 16th Battalion Officer's including Samuel Townshend.
Group portrait of the officers of the 16th Battalion. Identified, left to right, back row: unidentified interpreter; Captain (Capt) Harold Alfred Southern, killed in action on 2 May 1915; Lieutenant (Lt) William Buchanan Kerr, killed in action on 2 May 1915; Capt Leslie Duncan Heming, killed in action on 8 August 1915; Lt John Kingsley Langsford; Lt William Ernest Elston; Lt Harry James Burton, killed in action on 2 May 1915; Lt Edwin Theodore Knight; possibly Lt Gordon Levason Curlewis. Middle row: Lt Alexander Peter Imlay; Lt Robert Balmain Blyth; Capt Eliazar Lazar Margolin; Capt Samuel Edward Townshend, killed in action on 9 May 1915; Lt Ross Harwood; Wilton (no further information); Lt Arthur Edward Carse, died of wounds on 2 May 1915; Habrel (no further information); Lt Ernest Otto Alfred Bruns, killed in action on 2 May 1915; Lt Frank Barnes Gladman; Lt Arthur Henry Torres Mountain, killed in action on 27 April 1915. Front row: Major Francis Bird Carter, killed in action on 27 April 1915; Major Edgar Kendall Baker; Kendrew (no further information); Tilney (no further information); Lieutenant Colonel Harrold Pope; McDonald (no further information); Hon Lt Thomas Gorman (Quartermaster); Major William Owen Mansbridge; Capt James Miller, killed in action on 2 May 1915; Lt Edmund Herman Kretchmar, killed in action on 6 May 1915. Lying in front: Lt Norman Henry Durston, died of wounds on 9 May 1915; Lt Cyril Arthur Geddes, killed in action on 2 May 1915; Lt Kieran Leopold Anderson, killed in action on 2 May 1915.
Photo source:

Update 13 Mar 15
Nick is the relative of Arthur Barnes who I'll be sending the medals to. He has done some searching of his own and come up with two articles about Arthur in Egypt and Arthur's father's obituary.
 Source: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/61646180
 Source: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/61646180

 Source: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16613760
At the same time I was looking in to this case, I have been researching an Albert Barnes and I did mix up the names Arthur and Albert but that is fixed now. There are also some formatting issues with the pictures and text I imported which I just can't quite fix.

John Clifford

Over the years we have established several long standing relationships with government or veterans organisations. One which both Bill and I are most proud of is the relationship we have with the RSL at the national and state level. This particular case started with a request from the Victorian RSL state branch. I'll let Bill take up the story of 1385 Trooper John Joseph Clifford, 4th Australian Light Horse.

'John’s British War Medal came to us courtesy of the memorabilia section of the Victorian RSL after it was handed in to them.
John, who served in the 4th Australian Light Horse, was more than qualified for his role; he stated that his employment prior to enlistment was as a jockey. The attached photo, from the AWM, shows the 5ft 7in, 19 year old Trooper Clifford looking every bit the jockey.
Born in Tipperary, Ireland, the search for a next of kin was initially a daunting task. This is despite John, who died in 1925 from injuries and health problems associated with his service, coming from a large family. However, as I worked through the evidence, it became clear that the only practical option was to follow the line from his sister May Margaret Clifford through her marriage to Tom Guthrie. As a result the Victorian Branch of the RSL will soon forward John’s medal to May’s grandson, Michael.'

Bill was very crisp with his research and was able to locate Michael before the RSL could forward the medal to me. That means no picture of the medal but I think the photo of John from the AWM is a fine substitute. 
The returned medal tally is now 1253.
Picture source:

11 March 2013

Web site review - The British Medals Forum

The British Medals Forum has been mentioned many times in posts on this blog and the blog roll contains a link to the site. It is also the site others are most referred to if they are interested in expanding there knowledge, interested in medals awarded to Commonwealth countries or posting requests about stolen medals. Having endorsed the British Medals Forum for many years it is now timely to review the site so that others might consider joining.
The British Medals Forum is commonly referred to as the BMF by members. It is a tightly run forum that is focused on medals, honours and awards that are issued by Commonwealth countries. It is the peak research forum on this subject on the web. 
The BMF uses the phpBB forum package as its operating format. This package is easy to use and navigate around. The BMF use of this format offers the ability to browse by dedicated topic group or pre-selected groupings, for example ‘New Posts’ which is on a 24 hour refresh cycle. The look of the site is utilitarian but this is more to do with the phpBB format than the BMF content. One criticism expressed by members is that the search function often does not deliver expected results. Once again, this can be attributed to the phpBB format and the search operation that is inherent in this package.
It is obvious that the site has a very niche focus on medals. It is a free site which only requires an interested member to sign up to access it. There is no advertising which is a credit to the site operators so there is very little distraction on the site. There is an annual voluntary sponsorship drive which provides the opportunity for members to contribute financially to the running costs of the site and further push away the need for advertising.
The BMF has very clear set of rules which are strictly enforced by the moderators. Topics that stray outside the forum theme are quickly locked and deleted. Topics that have run their course in the discussion about medals are also locked if the conversation strays, however, are left online if the earlier discussions are of benefit to member education. The forum is moderated by a group of very knowledgeable, hand selected enthusiasts. The moderators are spread around the world so that they can bring their intimate knowledge of there own countries medal system to the forum. This also allows for 24 hour moderation and close to instantaneous action if the site is hit by spam or disagreement occurs.
The combination of clear rules and decisive moderation allows the BMF to stay completely focused on its primary objective which is the discussion and knowledge sharing of issues related to Commonwealth medals. This ensures relevance that pertains to the topic. As it is a forum, the different members have different writing skills and provide different levels of contribution. The forum has close to 3000 member, some of whom contributed rarely, if at all, and others who are very active. An average day will see over 250 posts being made.
As the site name suggests this one is based in the UK. This is a minor disadvantage to international users. The ‘New Posts’ refresh time means that international posts often fall outside the reading list for the majority of members when they are most likely to access the forum. To ensure maximum exposure an international member needs to time contributions for shortly after the refresh time. This can be inconvenient and run the risk of gaps in the discussion given time differences. A second minor disadvantage is the name. When referring others to this BMF, the question is often asked why join since it is the British Medal Forum not the Australian Medal Forum. However, once a new member visits they soon see that other Commonwealth countries are well represented and the title is irrelevant. These are two very minor criticisms as it is hard find much at fault with the BMF.
The strength of the BMF is the friendliness of the members and their willingness to share the immeasurable knowledge that they have. New members are made to feel part of the group and questions are answered with speed and politeness. If not, the moderators are quick to act. This adds to the quality of the posts and the research that is shared by members. It must be pointed out that the subject of medals is the start point of many discussions which often lead to previously unknown information about a soldier, his unit, his home town, his family or any number of side topics. As long as there is a link back to the original medal discussion the topics are free ranging.  
The British Medals Forum is a no frills website. However, the quality and depth of the research on the BMF belies this no frills approach. The utilitarian aspect ensures no annoying advertising or spam which adds to the enjoyment of members who are not distracted and can immerse in their hobby.
For anyone with even a passing interest in medals awarded to Commonwealth countries this is a highly recommended website.

07 March 2013

Roy Morgan update

Even though I only posted about Roy Morgan yesterday I thought this was a good enough reason to write an update. This afternoon Roy's family posted the following comment:

Hello Glyn,
I would like to sincerely thank you for you diligent effort in locating my mother to return my dad's stolen medal. Fortunately my nephew had one of dad's medals mounted with a photo of dad soon after his passing now we have all of his medals once more. We as Roy's family are so grateful for their return.

Thank you again Roy's family 

This is fantastic news, Roy's medals will be reunited following this return.

PS can I please ask Roy's daughter to email me at llanwarne80 at hotmail dot com - Thank you.

06 March 2013

Roy Morgan

In recent posts I have spoken about how wonderful it has been to assist the Victorian Police Force on several occasions. This time I have the pleasure of helping out the Western Australian Police Force.
Last week I received an email from Peter W of the Perth Police Station. He had a WWII War Medal and a WWII 60th anniversary commemorative coin  and requested that I have a search for the family.
The medal, awarded to WX41637 Roy Frederick William Morgan, arrived in today's post. This afternoon I had a brief look at Roy's entries in the electoral rolls. This brief look turned in to the whole story unravelling at the rapid rate. I quickly established Roy died in 2002 and that his wife's name was Elsie. A check of the White Pages provided a phone number of a person with the same initials living around the corner from the address listed in the 1980 electoral roll. Always keen to take a punt on leads like this I rang the number and within 5 minutes of deciding to have a brief look at Roy's trail I was speaking to Elsie (sorry Bill).
Elsie tells me that she had been burgled in the past and lost many personal items and money. She wasn't worried about the money but she and her daughters were very upset at the loss of Roy's medals. Now one can be retuned.
The returned medal tally is now 1252.