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.