30 June 2013

Graham Jennings

This is another set of medals that Bill received from John Morris from the Longbeach RSL. I think it is then fitting that John would be handed the medals back last week so he could then present them to the daughter of VX141521Graham Arthur Jennings. As it turned out that after a fruitless12 month search and than having Bill locate the family, John actually knows Graham's daughter. However, he knows her by her married name not her maiden name.
In his notes, Bill tells me that this was a pretty difficult search but he ‘got lucky with the Electoral Rolls, well sort of lucky’. One thing that surprised Bill a little was the as issued condition that the medals are in which can clearly be seen in the picture
We can’t thank John enough for the trust that he has placed in us.
The returned medal tally is now 1291.

29 June 2013

Defence Long Service Medal

This Defence Long Service Medal came to Bill from via John Morris of the Longbeach RSL. A search of the RSL records did not reveal any member with the same name that is on the medal. John then turned to Bill for help. Once Bill received the medal and provided me the name it took less than a minute to locate the contact details of the serviceman it was awarded to.
We now know that the medal was last seen pinned to a service dress jacket which was stolen at a function in Melbourne in 2005. So after eight years the medal will be sent home making the returned medal tally 1287.

16 June 2013

Donald Hickman

The WWII service of S213610 Donald Stanley Hickman seems to be quite unremarkable. He was a militia member who did not serve overseas. What appears to be more intriguing is the journey that his medals have travelled.
I received the medals from Richard M who lives in Lafayette, California. How they got to the USA is anyone's guess. While the obverse and reverse of the medals are in good condition the rim seems to be scratched. I wonder if somewhere along the line someone has tried to remove the naming.
Once I received the medals from Richard I found Donald listed on an Ancestry  family tree. The owner wasn't able to to help but very kindly put me in touch with a Hickman family member in South Australia. This new lead proved very successful and today I received the phone number of Donald's son. We have since had a very nice conversation and I'll send him the medals shortly. However, the mystery still remains as to how these medals ended up in Lafayette.
Thanks to Richard for the medals, Karen for the connection to Robin and to Robin for tracking down Lance.
The returned medal tally is now 1286.

05 June 2013

Renwick Harper

When I received the medals awarded to 735 Renwick Harper I immediately thought that with such a distinctive first name the search might be straight forward. But the more I dug in to the life of Renwick the more difficult the search and the murkier the story became. (If the link to the service record drops out this tutorial will show you how to access service records).
It turned out that his full name is Renwick Joseph Hutton Harper. He was born in South Australia in 1890 and as I have mentioned before the South Australian records are difficult to access. However, I then discovered a gold mine of information in the newspaper records held online at Trove. More of that later.
Renwick served with the 1st Remount Unit (1 RMT UNIT) which was a reasonable small unit and medals awarded to members are scarce. He was awarded the WWI trio of medals for service during WWI. The unit it named differently on the Victory Medal - 1ARU for 1st Australian Remount Unit.

So back to what I discovered in Trove. Renwick was a petty criminal. In 1914 he was arrested for assault and robbery. This article summarises the crime.
 Source: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88846062

 Renwick's service record shows that his conduct while in the Army was good but once he returned to Australia he was prosecuted for selling surplus military equipment without authorisation.

Source: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45521194

Trove has several more articles about the prosecution of both of these crimes. In the 1920s or 30s Renwick left South Australia and led an itinerant life. He very rarely surfaces in the records except for two notable occasions. He was listed as living at the Queanbeyan Camping Ground which is a less than 20km from where I live. He was also accused in NSW of assult that resulted in a man dying but there was a lack of evidence.
Renwick returned to South Australia and died in 1959. I highly suspect that he sold his medals at some time and it is amazing that the trio remained together for all these years.
Thank you to Andrea C again who sent me the medals along with the Hoskin medals after seeing the ACA show on Anzac Day. I look forward to sending this group to the family in the near future. The returned medal tally is now 1284.

04 June 2013

Australian Active Service Medal

This Australian Active Service Medal came to me via Australia Post after being found without any packaging. It was awarded to a current day veteran who is still serving so I wont provide many detail.
The returned medal tally is now 1282.

Henry Hoskin

This was one of those really complicated searches as Henry Hoskin had several variations of his name. Henry's service record shows that he served as 2385 Henry Arthur John Hoskin, 10 Bn AIF. (If the link drops out this tutorial will show you how to access service records).
I thought with that quite distinctive combination of names, tracking him would be easy. Henry originally came from South Australia which has the hardest historic records to track down. So that was the first problem. I then discovered that what records I could access didn't refer to Henry at all. So I went back to his father Alexander and mother who is referred to in one document as Julie Ann Coates Hoskin.
I played around with this combinations of names and over many days, I pieced together a family tree which showed that at different times family members had Coates, Coutts or Coats as either a middle name or as part of a hyphenated name, Coutts-Hoskin.
Using these new search parameters, I tracked down 2825 James Coutts Hoskin who was KIA on 24 August 1918, just 10 weeks prior to the Armistice. James is commemorated at the Villers Bretonneux cemetery. James NOK lined up with one of Henry's siblings so I knew I had the right family. The next step was the easiest and I found James on an Ancestry family tree and I was soon in contact with the tree owner, Ian. I also worked out that another of Henry's siblings served as SX7811 Private Daniel Hoskin during WWII.
Ian is Henry's great nephew and I'll return the medal to him shortly. Thank you to Andrea C who sent me the medals after seeing the ACA show on Anzac Day. The returned medal tally is now 1281.

The following photo is of the Villers Bretonneux cemetery taken in 2009.