28 March 2017

Leslie Smith

One of Bill's Watch This Space stories.

The search for the family of 634 Lance Sergeant Leslie Frank Smith to return his 1914-1915 Star, has been one truly out of the box and not just the box it came in. From questioning, it appears that various people have tried to trace the family but with no success. Finally the medal was left along with several others, as I was told, in the ‘too hard’ box, (no pun intended) which I recently inherited. My initial challenge was that no one knew the background to the medal, the last researcher having died leaving no notes or other information.
As an aside may I say the search for Leslie’s family has been an incredible wander and I do not use that word sparingly, through the history of Australia both during and immediately after WWI.
Leslie’s mother was christened Laura Maria Von Bullow, her parents having migrated from Denmark. However, with the advent of WWI and the anti-German rhetoric of the time, the family dropped the Von, particularly after great publicity was given to a German general by the name of Von Bullow.  
Compounding the gaps that opened up in the family tree was that Frank’s siblings had in many cases been given his mother’s family names, Waldemar and Augustus. My next problem was not so much that Maria’s family dropped the Von, but she and her husband’s family anglicised many of the Christian names of their children. Effectively a generation disappeared.  
With the help of the Australian Surnames Genealogical Group, I eventually narrowed down the family tree. It was only after trying to follow each of Leslie’s siblings and the name problem often coming back to haunt me through their marriages and the records themselves, that I was able to contact his niece Dawn. She had also done the family tree, and connected me with Leslie’s granddaughter.
It was not until after I had posted of his medal that I realised I had not photographed it or its reverse, so please viewers can you wait a few days till I receive them.

I think we can forgive Bill not taking a photo after all this effort. The returned medal tally is now 2050.

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