19 August 2018

Ray Curtis and the Battle of Coral

Lost items come to us through the most unusual sets of circumstances. This all started with an email from a friend of mine and fellow officer, Leo M. He had purchased an old army trunk from a recycle center and inside found an identity disc belonging to 214950 R G Curtis.
A bit of research showed that Ray Curtis was a Platoon Sergeant in 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment at the time of the Battle of Coral. This link is to a picture on the Australian War Memorial website which shows Ray inspecting a captured weapon following the battle.
Finding Ray's contact details proved a little difficult to find so I used the 1 RAR network to get a message through to him. I am very grateful that my email passed through several supportive former battalion members, including jcal, to reach Ray.
Today I connected Ray and Leo so that a return can be arranged.
The returned medal tally is now 2241.

16 August 2018

Fromelles KIA part 2

Bill and I get numerous requests to find medals that have been lost for many years or known to have been sold in the past. This is an almost impossible task. However, Bill has achieved the impossible.

For those of you who follow this Blog, you would be quite used to Glyn and I receiving medals then going looking for either, the recipient, or a next of kin. This story goes the other way.
It is a story that has been two years in the making and it came in two parts; this is part 2.
If I take you back to 1st July 2016 and the story of the search for the Death Plaque of 1707 Pte Cyril David Jones, who was Killed in Action at Fromelles on the 20 July 1916, I introduced you to Lee his great niece and her search for the plaque and medals of her great Uncle. 
This is the continuation of that story. When I returned the plaque to Lee, her final words, after her profuse thanks, were of the order: ‘do you think you’ll ever find the medals?” My answer, the only one I could honestly give her, was “I don’t know, I just don’t know”. 
However, I added Cyril’s name to my weekend Internet search roster. 
Shortly after returning Cyril’s Plaque, I was approached by the new memorabilia officer of the RSL Club that had been given Cyril’s plaque and medals in 1972. He asked me would I complete the lists that I had started on several years before, a request to which I agreed. This was for two reasons, the first that I had no luck blind searching on the internet. Secondly it allowed me to search much more thoroughly the club and its environs than I had before. 
My first step was to make up a list of any and all of the retirement homes within a 5 Km radius of the club, homes whether they were associated with the RSL or not, but where someone from the club may have in the past set up a display. Then came the follow on phone calls, to which the answers varied from “No we have no RSL stuff here” to “Yes, we do”. It soon appeared that at some time in the past, the club’s previous memorabilia officer had a very large list of homes that he and his wife would regularly visit changing over the display to match up with various military campaigns that Australian forces had been involved in. Usually the comments received digressed to the fact that he had not been for quite some time, almost two years, in fact, which aligned with his passing.  And so started my visit program. 
It is now two weeks since I rang Lee, asked her to sit down, and told her I had found Cyril’s medals. They were in a plastic shopping bag at the back of a display cabinet. Last Saturday I had the privilege of returning Cyril’s medals to his family.
This has, as I said above, been along search, nearly two years in fact. I do not think I would ever like to do it again. If Cyril had not been one of the fallen at Fromelles, had I not got involved in the search for the NOK of the fallen, met Sandra Playle and Tim Lycett and some truly fine Australians, I don’t know if I would have had the determination to keep going.

Sandra and Tim have been friends of mine for many years, this is another wonderful connection to the amazing research they have done.
The returned medal tally is now 2240.

13 August 2018

An Australian Defence Medal returned

More and more, medals are coming to us from the Police after they have been recovered following a suspected theft.
Recently, the South Australian Police located an Australian Defence Medal and an 'I am an Australian Soldier' medallion in a car and the driver's name didn't match the name on the ADM. Constable Ben S sent an email to the South Australian RSL requesting assistance and this email was forwarded to me.
The ADM had the soldier's employee number, initials and name but the medallion had his full name. I used this information to find him on Face Book and discovered that we have a mutual friend. I fired of a message asking for Constable Ben's contact details to be passed on and left it at that. Today I have received word that the solider has been in contact with SAPOL. Very soon his ADM and medallion will be sent home.
Thanks to Nathan K from RSL Care in SA and Brad C for your assistance.
The returned medal tally is now 2238.

06 August 2018

Patrick Fendlen

The search for 4907 Patrick James Fendlen of the 53rd Battalion, AIF, started with an email from Terry M who had come across Patrick's British War Medal amongst his father's WWII medals.
The search for Patrick was some what difficult as his name was sometimes spelt with an 'i' in place of the second 'e'. Once I worked out that he lied about his age to enlist the pieces started to fall in to place.
He was born in 1870 making him 44 when he enlisted but stated his age as 34. He was married to Rachel but this was her second marriage and she already had four children. Rachel died while Patrick was still serving in France although he was returned to Australia for health reasons not long after.
In Patrick's service record there is a letter from his brother saying that there was no children from the marriage to Rachel and I couldn't find any connection between Patrick and Rachel's children after she died.
Patrick later married Mary Sayer, however, that marriage didn't last long as in 1920 a warrant was issued for Patrick's arrest for the desertion of Mary. The warrant gave his age as 54 which verified my calculations about him lying about  his age on enlistment. Patrick spent time in Darlinghurst prison and died in 1937. 
I've tracked down a distant relative who is also the family historian and he will hold the medal until a closer relative is found if this is possible.
It was great to connect Terry and Wayne about Patrick's medal and provide them both with addition details about Patrick. Although, how his medal came in to Terry's father's possession remains a mystery.
The returned medal tally is now 2236.

21 July 2018

Henry Agnew.

This search started with an email from LCDR Tim C from the Royal Australian Navy who had received the Australian Service Medal 1939-45 awarded to 19669 Henry Norman Agnew, RAN. The circumstances how Tim received the medal was slightly strange but I have heard similar stories before.
The medal was sent to Tim by the daughter of Norman Andrew Agnew who had found Henry's medal mixed in with Norman's medals. Very kindly, she wanted to see Henry's medal with the right family. It is easy to see how the mix up occurred when the medals were originally dispatched. Although, I do wonder where Norman's ASM is?
The search for Henry's family proved rather tricky. There were only a few mentions of Henry in public records. These include his WWII RAN service card, which really provided no usable information, a date of death and two electoral roll entries. From the electoral roll I knew he lived in Gundagai in the late 1950s and his wife was Victoria Gladys Agnew. I found Victoria's headstone which confirmed she died in 1990 and with no children mentioned I had to assume there was no direct descendant.
It was the link to Gundagai that cracked this search open. The NSW BDM entry for Henry's death in Gundagai gave me his parent's names, Albert Frederick and Amelia Elizabeth. Using this data in the births search page I found the name of Henry's sister, Bronwen. After that is was easy. Albert, Amelia and Bronwen appear in an Ancestry family tree owned by Bronwen's grandson Gary. This makes Gary, Henry's great nephew. 
I've now connected Tim and Gary and the medal will soon be returned to Henry's family.
The returned medal tally is now 2235.

18 July 2018

Two more medals returned

Two great results by Bill, but......
By now regular readers of our blog are, as they often comment, fascinated by the research, let alone the time that goes into returning medals. However, I must admit nothing seems to annoy (if that is the right word) them is when Glyn and I merely report that ‘the medals have been returned’.
Of the following two returns, one involved the recipients family, while the other the Victorian Police. In one case we have chosen to respect the privacy of a family, in the other a series of outstanding matters, preclude our commenting.
However Leslie’s family can thank Jaunita at Rosebud RSL. While Stephen can, if he hasn’t already done so, can thank Sergeant Rhian Kelly of the South Melbourne Police Station.

The returned medal tally is now 2234.

16 July 2018

Norman Faulks

Another collaboration with Gavin G of Brisbane to return a dog tag that he found. This time it belonged to  VX110377 Norman William Faulks.
The returned medal tally is now 2232.

13 July 2018

Albert Parkin

I've recently been in contact with Gavin G of Brisbane who, over the years, has found several dog tags while metal detecting. I've looked at three different tags so far and we have one result, one pending result and one difficult search.
The one result is the dog tag of Albert Victor Parkin.  
The returned medal tally is now 2231.

16 June 2018

Stanley Burke

We are often asked to locate medals that have been stolen or lost over the years. This is almost impossible as there is know way of knowing where the medals might now be. All we can offer is to keep the details on record in the very slim chance the medals might just come our way. That slim chance recently happened for Bill. And all done in 5 hours.

As I started to write up my notes about the search for the family of 58605 Leading Aircraftman Stanley John Burke I found myself intrigued by three things. Firstly, being born on the 3rd June 1924 and enlisting on the 22nd June 1942, Stan was only 18 years and 19 days old. It must have taken some persuasion for Stan to get his mother to sign his enlistment papers. Almost as much as it probably took to convince the Postmaster General’s Department (PMG) to release a Junior telegraph mechanic in training, so he could enlist in the RAAF. The third thing was a realisation that I had spoken to Stan’s daughter in 2014 when she told me that her father’s medals had been stolen and what advice could I give her. As it worked out I didn’t give her any advice, just the medals.
But a search is not always the effort of one person, it is in fact the sum of many contributions. Sheryl from the Avondale Police Station property office, Jan of the Banyule City Council and the Australian War Graves staff.

The returned medal tally is 2230.

10 June 2018

Australia Remembers podcast

This podcast has some great information about the 100 Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians.


19 May 2018

ANMEF trio

Bill's latest success.

The last four years has seen major battles showcased as part of the 100th anniversary of WWI. Perhaps it is only fitting that this story goes back to not only Australia’s, but also the Allies, first successful military campaign of the War.
Back to the 18th August 1914 when the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF), a small volunteer force, marched through Sydney prior to embarkation for New Guinea, where they were tasked to seize and destroy German wireless stations in German New Guinea.
O/N 7351 AB John Searson Cantwell RAN, was one of the marchers that made up that contingent.
It is also fitting that John’s medals should come from Tony, a retired Lieutenant Commander, who while dropping off his own medals to be mounted, saw John’s medals for sale and purchased them.
I first became acquainted with Tony through the ‘VetAffairs’ magazine. Tonight I sent off an email whose introduction said it all “Tony meet Lachlan, Lachlan meet Tony”. At that point I bailed out leaving it to the two to get together so that the medals can be returned to John’s family.
John along with other members of the contingent returned to Australia victorious in January 1915, then on the 15th March 1915, they marched from Circular Quay to Victoria Barracks. Sadly John was  killed as a result of a motor accident and passed away without marrying.

The pictures are of John's WWI trio and of the ANMEF marching through Sydney.
The returned medal tally is now 2226.

14 May 2018

Anniversary of National Service Medal

Another success story from Bill.

Recently I received an Anniversary of National Service Medal from the Victorian police. This in itself is nothing new. What was, however, was the phone call I received 6 days prior.
According to the Police Constable who rang me, the medal had two numbers on it, 
firstly 31xxxxx and secondly, VO571. The impression was faint so he was not sure.
Well the first number 31xxxxx initially had me stumped, until I realized it was a CMF Regimental Number. It would later transpire that the owner of the medal had already completed 2 years military service in the CMF when his birth date was drawn in the National Service Call-Up. He took the option then available to serving CMF members who had completed two years service of staying in the CMF for a further three years. Thus being eligible for the Anniversary of National Service Medal.
The second number, well there was no second number. With the aid of a torch and an extremely powerful magnifying glass, it was a different story. If I was to say the 5 was actually an ‘S’ I will leave it to readers to work it out. No prizes will be given.

The returned medal tally is now 2223. 

08 May 2018

Harry Jenkins

This search commenced with an email from Julie T which said:

"Whilst cleaning my parents home I have found some medals & war service records of my parents old next door neighbour, from WW11, he died in 1993 and his wife died a few years after that, I don't know how they have come to be here, I want to reunite these items with his remaining family".
The medals were awarded to NX25083 Henry (Harry) Oswald Jenkins and with this name combination it was rather easy to find all the basic information I needed about him. From Harry's death notice I found that he had two sons, one named Ross, however, a search for R Jenkins in NSW threw up over 1000 hits. Thinking that this was going to be a difficult search I begrudgingly scrolled down the electoral roll entries and to my surprise the 1980 roll listed a Ross Oswald Jenkins. This was to much of a coincidence to let pass. It was also a bit lucky as the 1980 rolls are the last that are available on Ancestry.
It didn't take long to locate where Ross lived but finding away to contact him proved more difficult. It turned out that through Face Book Messenger and a Men's Shed that Ross is a member of, Julie and I were able to get in touch. Ross collected his father's medals today. 
What I thought was going to be a difficult search turned out to be quite simple and only took about two hours before I had all the information required to narrow down where Ross lived and make some educated guesses about how to contact him.
The returned medal tally is now 2222.


25 April 2018

William Luxmoore

Each of our successful returns is remarkable in one way or another, however, finalising this one on Anzac Day is extra special.
The search began with a referral via the South Australian Genealogy Facebook page. Janine's father found a WWI British War Medal in an incinerator over 50 years ago and she now wanted it back with the family. The medal was awarded to 3479 William Clarence Luxmoore, 9th Light Horse Regiment. There was some initial confusion in the search as the records alternate between the surname spelling of Luxmore and Luxmoore. William was from a well known South Australian family. He didn't marry and died in 1924 aged just 31.  

The search then shifted to William's siblings as well as shifting states. It also took a very unexpected turn.
William's parents, a brother and sister moved to the Northern Beaches of Sydney. I found the death notice of William's brother Frederick, however, no children were mentioned. What was interesting was that their sister Winfreda is referred to as Lady Freda Ashton.

Freda's first husband was married to Ernest Hoggard in 1927. She was widowed in 1955 not having had any children. 
In 1961 Freda married artist, Sir William Ashton. Will died in 1963.
That is not where the story of Lady Freda ends and it is probably as infamous as Will Ashton was famous. In the late 1980s, Sydney was gripped in terror due to the murder of six elderly women. The serial killer was John Glover and his second victim was Lady Freda. Glover was dubbed the Granny Killer.
The Sydney leads ran out so I went back to William's other bother James who lived on Kangaroo Island. South Australian public records are the most difficult to access but I worked out the names of James' daughter and grand daughter. What I couldn't establish was William's great niece's current contact detail. Luckily, through Janine's initial post the great niece made contact and arrangements are being made to return the medal. A fantastic result on Anzac Day.
The returned medal tally is now 2217.

24 April 2018

Jack Ghilks

This search took me back and forth to Great Britain on several occasions.
It started with an email from Chris S who had a WWII group awarded to NX65631 John Henry Ghilks. With such an usual surname I thought finding a relative would be straight forward. That is where I went wrong.
I came upon the odd reference to Ghilks but other than the basic information he was a bit elusive. This article from 1942 is one example.

His headstone caused a bit more confusion until I established that Alice was his second wife and finally the Australian end of the search was finished. Ghilks went by the name Jack. He was an auctioneer and antique collector. He emigrated to Australia in the early 1930s then moved from Leeton to Bathurst and finally the Gold Coast where he died in 1983.
Along the way he purchased and restored the 19th century Bathurst mansion 'Woolstone'. Unfortunately, Jack didn't have any children for me to trace down so I went looking for his siblings. The search was then redirect to England where I found a person by the name Ghilks living in the same small village that Jack was from. While a link existed I was redirected down another path and eventually contacted Jim B whose wife is related to the Ghilks family. Jim kindly put me in in touch with Andrew who is Jack's great nephew. Andrew emigrated to Australia in 1974 so the search has come full circle.
The returned medal tally is now 2216.

16 April 2018

Walter Hogg

It is becoming more common that medals that have been found are being posted on social medal with a request to find the family. Many of these request are either shared with me or the poster is referred to me. That is exactly how I became involved in the search for the family of 591 Walter James Hogg.
Bernice M posted the picture of Walter Hogg's WWI medals on a lost items page which was shared with me and Bernice also sent me a message.
Walter was born in 1987 in Broken Hill. The service record gives his occupation as salesman. After WWI Walter married Pheobe but they didn't have any children. Walter died in 1941 so the search moved to his siblings.
Walter had four brothers, one who died as an infant, and a sister. Following the family lines of the brothers all resulted in dead ends, however, his sister Muriel was included on an Ancestry family tree. The tree owner turned out to be Muriel's great grand daughter.
I've now put Bernice and Walter's great grand niece, Charlotte in so the medals can be returned.
The returned medal tally is now 2211.

04 April 2018

Oscar Gill

This search took an unexpected turn when I made an educated guess based on a name I found on Ancestry.
It all started two days ago when I received an email from Andrew M who, for the last 20 years, had in his possession the 1914/15 Star awarded to 2368 Oscar Edward Gill. Andrew had been given the medal after it was found by a friend while metal detecting at a beach.
Finding Oscar was an easy task as well as discovering that his brother 944 Norman Thomas Gill was killed in action. Norman was KIA on 20 September 1917 at Polygon Wood. Norman has no know grave and is commemorated at Menin Gate.
Following WWI, Oscar married Evelyn Thompson and had a son, Norman Herbert Gill. Norman was married to Mary but I couldn't find evidence that they had any children. I then moved to Oscar's siblings but there appeared to be no continuous family line that I could follow. In an effort to find a new clue I went backwards to Oscar's parents. It was then that I found a private family tree on Ancestry which included Oscar's parents and to my surprise the tree owner's name is Neil Gill. This was to much of a coincidence for me so based on that educated guess, I fired of a message to Neil.
As it transpires, Neil runs his own genealogy research business. He has done extensive research on his own family and is related to Oscar. He also found that Norman and Mary did have children but the circumstances meant that the family dispersed over the years.
The timing couldn't be better as the Gill family has a reunion planned for later in 2018. I've connected Andrew and Neil and will leave them to decide the best method of return of this medal to the Gill family and how this might be incorporated in to the reunion.
The returned medal tally is now 2209.


28 March 2018

Ray Piggott

Yesterday I received an email from Louise asking me to research two WWI medals that she had found in a house she recently move in to. The medals were awarded to VX82640 Lance Bombardier Raymond Charles Piggott.
Ray died in 2003 but I couldn't find a death notice for him. The only clue I had was from the 1972 Electoral Roll which had showed that a Kenneth Robert Piggott lived at the same address as Ray. I assumed that this was a son. For an hour I was frustrated by not being able to narrow done what happened to Kenneth after 1972. All I found was one reference, along with an email address, to a Ken Piggott. Taking yet another punt I fired off an email to Ken and sure enough I had Ray's son.
The returned medal tally is now 2208.

18 March 2018

Australian Defence Medal awarded to GNR D.R. Muir

This particular return really maximised the use of online resources.
It commenced with an email from my mate Tim Lycett who is a property officer with the Queensland Police Service. He was in possession for an Australian Defence Medal awarded to a D.R. Muir. An email to a friend of mine who is far better at these things than me, and aided with Mr Muir's service number, identified the full name of recipient and was able to give me a geographic location for where he lived.
This led to the next part of the search and I found Mr Muir on Facebook. I provided Tim with all the details I had and it was also through Facebook that Tim was able to contact Mr Muir.
This morning I received a message from Tim to say that yesterday Mr Muir collected his ADM. Apparently the medal had been stolen from his car around Christmas.
Thanks to Paul for being able to connect the number, initials and name for me.
The returned medal tally is now 2206.

22 February 2018

A nice follow up in the press

Thanks to Mariam at the Goulburn Post for publishing this story about the end result of the Harward and Chittick search.

13 February 2018

Harward and Chittick

This is the next story about assistance to the Police this month.
The initial inquiry I received was from a Senior Constable in the Goulburn Local Area Command. During a vehicle stop he came across the British War Medal and the WWI Victory Medal awarded to Thomas Charles Harward and Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 awarded to John Ernest Chittick.
It didn't take me long to connect the Harward and Chittick names. Harward's wife was Mary Jane Lillian Chittick. They married in the mid 1930s but I couldn't find evidence that they had any children. I provided the Senior Constable all the information that I could get together from the electoral roll and BDM records. He then used this to make the final connection and I received this update overnight.
Chittick was the nephew of Mary and was living with the Chittick's when Thomas died. Chittick has also since died, however, his wife is still alive. She had given the medals to her son but these were stolen in 1993. In the near future they will be collected from the Goulburn Police Station.
The returned medal tally is now 2205.

12 February 2018

WWI and WWII service

February seems to be the month to help the police. This is the forth bit of research I've done this month that involves medals that have been recovered after a theft or car search. This time the call for assistance came from the Lake Illawarra Police Station.
They had come across a WWI Victory medal awarded to 3155 John William Pincham. John went on to serve in WWII. He married Elma in 1931 and had four children. John died in 1957; Elma lived until 2002.
From the family information I was able to provide, the police contacted John's great grand daughter and arranged for the medal to be returned.
The returned medal tally is now 2203.

11 February 2018

R G Shiel - National Medal

Not much surprises me anymore when is comes to how medals are lost and found. Although I did wonder how this medal was found in Perth and the most recent information, from 2013, that I found about the recipient was that he lived in Orange, NSW.
The search started with an email from Dion of the Perth Ice Works who told me that one of the company drivers found it on a street. This is a National Medal awarded to Robert Gordon Shiel. I found a Bob Shiel living in Orange and fortunately he was included on an Ancestry family tree. A message to the owner soon got a reply from Bob. I had the right person.
Bob, who now lives in Perth, tells me that his Long Service Medal and National Medal were stolen on Australia Day. Bob received these medals for his time with the Rural Fire Service.
The returned medal tally is now 2202.

28 January 2018

Charlie's medals

Glyn and I are often faced with complicated and involved family stories, concerning the return of medals. Our approach has always been to respect the families involved and their privacy.
The return of Charlie’s medals came first from a newspaper advert that was passed to me.
Thanks go to Vivian who set out, at the request of her mother, to return the medals to Charlie’s family and to Jenn who undertook the ‘quiet’ side of the research and really deserves the credit for the return. All I can claim to is the sorting out of a myriad of facts, some of which it transpired weren’t actually ‘factual’, that took me to Charlie’s family. In the end, the story of the return wasn’t as complicated as the challenge of protecting the privacy of the people involved.

The returned medals tally is now 2200

03 January 2018

Graeme Burnett

This is one of those cases that Bill and I wished happened far more often.
This one started this morning when I received the Anniversary of National Service Medal awarded to 5716964 GNR G L Burnett. It was sent to me by the Berowa (NSW) RSL Sub Branch having been forward from the NSW Police. I knew that this soldier was from WA by service number beginning with the number 5. The first search I did of the service number gave me the full name of Graeme Leslie Burnett. I went to Ancestry and from the 1980 electoral roll found that Graeme lived in the WA town of Collie. From there I moved to the White Pages and found a GL Burnett living at the same address as in 1980 and now I had his phone number.
Within a minute of starting this search I was speaking to Graeme's wife and was told that three years ago Graeme attended an Anzac Day service at The Entrance, NSW. That explains how the medal got handed in to the NSW Police.
Thanks to the Berowra RSL, the $550 annual Ancestry subscription and the White Pages, Graeme will soon get his medal back.
The returned medal tally is now 2195.

24 December 2017

Tom Hanlon

I continue to be amazed at the connections that Bill and I make through Internet searches that enable us to link one part of a story to many others and eventually lead to a successful return.
This story started with an email I received from Kathy M who had the WWII medals awarded to NX150098 Thomas John Hanlon. Tom died in 1943, he drowned while crossing a river in PNG.
Tom wasn't married so I started to look at his siblings. One brother was named Jeston which made searching for him pretty easy. That is when all the connections came together. I soon found this amazing article about the Hanlon family. What I couldn't find was the contact details of the author, Joyce Overton, who was Jeston's daughter and Tom's niece. However, in her article, Joyce wrote 'When I attended one of my first meetings of the Historical Society'. A search soon found that a Joyce Overton is named as an Office Bearer for the Canterbury Historical Society. I fired of an email to the Society and very soon the Society President was putting all the pieces in place for me to connect Kathy and Joyce.
I think Joyce's story about Jessamine tells the family story pretty well.
Thanks to Kerin for all your assistance. The returned medal tally is now 2194

23 December 2017

Dick's medals

Whenever Glyn and I are approached by the Police, in regard to returning found, handed in or seized, possibly stolen Service Medals, because of the possibility of legal action, but above all to protect the privacy of the family involved, that in many cases has already been violated, we are often asked to not report how we located the next of kin or their names.
Such is the case in the return of ‘Dick’s’ medals.
It is over three years since they went ‘missing’, believed stolen, but only recently handed into the Victoria Police. Can I just say thank you to Jan, a property officer without parallel and may I add incredible patience, in putting up with me, to get the medals home.

The returned medal tally is now 2190.


Jack Kiley

Some searchers just have me scratching my head as to how the medals went missing in the first place. This is one such case and I think that just having a successful solution is the best answer.
Pauline C recently emailed and told me that a friend recently moved from Townsville and when she was unpacking the removal boxes she found boxes that weren't hers. In one of these mystery boxes was the WWII medals awarded to NX97322 Jack Kiley. There was no response from the removal company so Pauline asked me to help.
The information I found about Jack was pretty sparse so I had to relay on the name of his neck of kin, Clementine Munro. From the 1949 electoral roll I found the name of the property that Jack was living at and this lined up with where Clementine lived. I had narrowed down the geographic location for Jack but in the 1970s and 180s he was living on his own in the NSW town of Moree. I could find no evidence that he married.
I then stumbled across this story about the Rotary Club of Moree chipping in to pay for a plaque for Jack after he died in 2003. The plaque also gives his real date of birth as 1928 meaning that he was 14 when he enlisted in 1942 not 20.
Pauline told me that in the mystery box was a prescription so she gave me the name on that. The first name was Karen. I found this person also living in Moree in the 1970 so I took a punt that there was a link with Jack. I found reference to Karen leaving a local business in 2013. These were all very thin links but I provided Pauline the company name and today she told me she was able to contact Karen. Also some blanks were filled in:
'It turns out that Jack was an orphan and was taken in by Karen’s family when he was very young. He lived with them and then joined the army. When he finished his tours he came back home and Karen said he was a regular at Sunday lunches. She still they were fantastic friends and he had left his medals to her family and they ended up with Karen. She was very excited that I called.'
How the boxes were mixed up in the removal is what has me scratching my head but I'm not going to give it another thought.
The medal returned tally is now 2184.

04 December 2017

Two KIA from the same family

This isn't the longest search I've done but there are some family complications that made it difficult.
When I read the service record of 2896 William Russell I didn't expect the story that unfolded. Firstly, his NOK was listed as his half sister, Janet Weir Rankin. Janet was also the beneficiary of his will after he was killed in action on 16 Jul 17. These decisions by the soldier didn't make it easy for Janet or her father Alexander Rankin to finalise William's estate. In 1921 the Army wrote to Janet  (page 35) to see if there were any other relative more closely related to receive his medals. Janet's response laid it out quite clearly. William was illegitimate and his father's whereabouts were unknown. To complicate this a little I found a memorial notice in a news paper which calls William Russell a friend of the family. What I couldn't confirm was if William's mother and Janet's mother were the same person. That confirmation was to come later.
What I could confirm was that Janet Weir Rankin was the daughter of Alexander Rankin and Alexander was married to Margaret at a time I couldn't work out. Margaret was the sister of Alexander White Weir. Alexander was also killed in action. His date of death was 23 Jul 17, only a week after William. Alexander was also in the same memorial notice which also states: 'our friend, William Russell'.
To add to the confusion a bit, Janet Weir Rankin married Alexander Smith and had a son also Alexander but he died as an infant in 1927.
It was at this point I found Alexander White Weir on the family tree of Ken C who has kindly allowed me to use his research in this post. Ken was able to confirm what I assumed as well as add a considerable amount of additional information.

1893 - William Russell was born on 27 July 1893 at 17 Church Street, Kilsyth [Scotland] to William Russell and Alison Currie. They were not married and the Birth Registration shows “Illegitimate.”
1901 - Alison Currie is listed on the Census with William and Alison’s mother Janet Currie.
1904 - Alison Currie married Alexander Rankin on 29 January 1904 at South Barnwood, Kilsyth. 1904 - Janet Weir Rankin was born to them on 16 July 1904. Both William Russell and Janet Weir Rankin have their mother listed as Alison Currie.
1906 - Alison Rankin (nee Currie) died on 3 July 1906 at Glasgow Maternity Hospital. Her full name is listed as Alison Brash Abercrombie Rankin.
1908 - Alexander Rankin married Margaret Weir on 10 July 1908 at Kilsyth. My mother was their eldest child. Janet Weir Rankin did marry Alexander Smith in 1927 and they had a child Alexander who was born and died in 1927.

 This confirms the biological link between William and Janet and answers a whole lot of other questions. William's Victory will soon be returned to Ken. Thanks to Trevor R who sent me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 2182.

01 December 2017

WOFF Murphy - Shot down over Europe

This is a really great story from Bill. 

Shot down over Poland in 1943, Warrant Officer Frank Murphy spent the next two years as a POW. Then with the collapse of the German Forces in 1945, he was one of the many POW's that the Germans forced to follow its retreating army, in the front of the Russian onslaught, a forced march of 800 miles and lasted from January and April 1945. This was through a one of the most bitterly cold winters seen for many years. It was a forced march often with little or no rations.
But if there was one distinction that held pride of place with Frank held it was his membership of the ‘Caterpillar Club’ whose distinctive badge he earned after he bailed out in 1943.
The success of this search owes much to the team at Australian Genealogical Surname who really stepped up and whose efforts saw his medals returned to his family.
At the request of the family the research involved has been deleted.

The returned medal tally is now 2181.