20 August 2019

Ray Thompson

In the past I've done a return for Daryl B which must have been satisfactory to him as Daryl called me recently about another set of medals that had come his way. I collected the WWI British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to 388 Charles Raymond Thompson yesterday and have now been in touch with Ray's great nephew.
Ray was a member of the 22nd Machine Gun Company having enlisted aged 25 in 1916. By March 1917, Ray had spent time in England to do further training then proceeded to France with his unit. On 14 September 1917, Ray was killed in action. His body was never recovered so he has no know grave. Ray is commemorated at Menin Gate.
Ray was the son of Charles Gordon Thompson who was the first school teacher at Cobram, Victoria. Charles was very well regarded in the community so on his untimely death in 1909 the published obituary gave me lots of clues about the Ray's siblings. I was then able to follow the family through to the 1980s but ran out of clues from the electoral rolls. Although, I did have one distinctive name to work with. This name led me to a company in Melbourne so I sent off a speculative email. Very shortly after this I received a reply from Geoff, Ray's great nephew. As it turns out Geoff had recently retired from this company but the thoughtful staff member passed him my email.
Ray's service record makes interesting reading. There are several letters from Ray's mother to Army seeking information about the possibility of Ray's remains being located. The replies must have been heartbreaking for Ray's mother.
Quite a bit of luck went my way with this search. This included prompt replies to Ancestry messages that I sent, which don't always occur, quite distinctive middle names across several generations and a Geoff's thoughtful colleague. The best outcome is that Ray's medals will soon be returned to his family.
The returned medal tally is now 2381.


07 August 2019

Michael Feeney

This is a great story that covers three generations of Australian servicemen.
It starts with 380 Michael Joseph Feeney a 22 year old Irishman who enlisted in 1916 having emigrated to Australia in 1912. Michael served in the 4th Division Motor Transport Company, Australian Army Service Corps.
Following WWI, Michael settled in Rockhampton. He enlisted again, at the age of 48, in the Army, this time during WWII and served in the Volunteer Defence Corps. Older men were used for home service in WWII so that younger men could be released to fight overseas and Michael did his part. For his WWII service, Michael was awarded two medals. 
These medals were purchased at a garage sale in Townsville 25 years ago by Jayson who mentioned them to Army PR soldier SGT Dave Morley. Dave passed he medals to me this morning and it didn't take long to find the second generation serviceman.
In the electoral rolls I found Michael, his wife and their son. This was Brian Michael Feeney. As I followed Brian it soon became apparent he was in the RAAF and in the late 1970s was living in Canberra. The 1977 roll gave me Brian's son's full name, which is quite distinctive. This is Chris, and the 1980 electoral roll listed his address as 6 RAR, Gallipoli Barracks. Here is the third generation. On a hunch I had a look on the Defence internal phone directory and sure enough I found Chris who is still serving in the Australian Army. 20 minutes after receiving Michael's medals from Dave I was talking to Michael's grandson. Chris tells me that he has never seen the WWII medals and has no idea how they came to be at a garage sale. Chris has been looking for Michael's WWI pair of medals for many years but there whereabouts remain a mystery.
Thanks to Jayson for wanting to see the medals returned to the family and to Dave for connecting me with Jayson.
The returned medal tally is now 2379.

30 July 2019

JWR Hatton

This search commenced last week when my colleague, Ben W bought in a bag of medals. The story he tells me is that his father is a second hand dealer and over the years he had purchased items that have included medals. All up there were six medals in the bag. There is a single medal that is still being researched and a WWII group of five awarded to NX71777 John William Robert Hatton.
It didn't take long to find John on an Ancestry family tree so I fired of a message to the tree owner.
Today, Ben and I were rewarded with a response from Kerry, the tree owner. Kerry tells us:

You probably realise that John William Robert Hatton [was] my Great Uncle. He was like most of my ancestors and did not marry.
He was my Grandmothers brother and I remember a photo of him and my father telling me that he never married.
I have [another] great uncles watch that was given to him from his employer when he went off to WW1. [With the medals] I will have two items that belong to my Great Uncles.

I'll soon send off John's medals to Kerry  and many thanks to Ben and his father for wanting to see these medals returned.

The returned medal tally is now 2377.

07 July 2019

James McElhinney

This is the final set of Remount Unit medals that were sent to me by Murray M. The other two groups were to Henry Beauchamp and Matthew Kelly. This 1914-15 Star and Victory Medal were awarded to 1355 James McElhinny, 5th Squadron, 2nd Australian Remount Unit.
I thought that James would be easy to follow due to his distinctive surname. This was not so as there was a James Alexander McElhinney living in NSW at the same time. As it turned out they died only a year apart and this caused a bit of confusion. The James I was searching for was born in Braidwood, NSW and lived for a while in Goulburn, NSW before settling in Sydney. He was 49 years old when he enlisted. James was married to Alice Elenaor Wray but that didn't have any children. This led me on a search for the descendants of James' sister but unfortunately this family line ended in 1930 when James' four year old great niece died.
It took me two months to get to this point so this morning I went back and looked at Alice's family and soon found the family tree of her brother. I've now been in contact with Jame's great great niece and will be soon sending her his medals.
This closes this the Remount search started by Murray but he has already set me on another path to research a British RAMC Victory Medal.
The returned medal tally is now 2372.

16 June 2019

Ted Newman - WWII group of 4 medals

By just saying that this search took 30 hours from start to finish belies the research effort that went in to locating the family of Ted Newman.
I collected the WWII group of four medals and other personal items belonging to NX174330 Edward (Ted) John Newman from the Post Office on Friday afternoon. The medals were sent to me by Boyd T who had the medals as the result of being the Executor of the Estate of the brother of Ted's second wife. Are you with me so far? This is just the start of the complications I faced in this search. 
I started looking at Ted and his family yesterday at 1000. As the search progressed I found little documentary evidence and when I did it only gave me 1/2 a clue and then there was no other evidence to corroborate that clue. I started with what Boyd know of Ted. That is, he was married and had a son. He then divorced and remarried to his second wife, Barbara. Boyd was able to tell me that Ted died in 1974. The electoral rolls from 1950 to 1974 gave me no additional information.
I found Ted's death notice and the next 1/2 clue. The notice provided the name of Ted's son, Warren and his wife Mary Anne (the spelling varied across sources). However, a reasonably common name like Warren Newman was difficult to pin down in the public records. For a couple of hours I just couldn't find Warren or Maryanne and out of desperation looked at the NSW marriage records which, on line, are available up to 1969. To my immense relief I found Warren's marriage from 1968, this included his middle name and Maryanne's maiden name. Other than confirming their address until 1980 and yet another variation of Maryanne's name, I got no more information. The White Pages was of no help.
What I also gained from Warren's marriage details was the area he was in at the time, this combined with Maryanne's unusual surname sent me down another line of inquiry. I found several families with the same name in the same geographic area and one family tree on Ancestry. Even though Maryanne wasn't mentioned in this tree I had no where else to go so I sent off a message to the tree owner.
By the time I got to this point of the search it was 1800 last night and eight hours of frustration was at an end. I even made the comment that if my message was to the wrong family I was not sure where else to look for Warren.
Not two hours later I had a message via social media from Warren's daughter just making sure that my request to contact the family was legitimate. 30 hours after I collected the medals I was in touch with Ted's family and could confirm that I indeed had his medals.
This morning I spoke to Warren and I was able to explain how the medals had gone via Boyd to me. We also spoke about his grandfather who served in WWI. This was Leslie John Felton and the link will take you to his WWI service record which Warren has not seen before.
It really has been quite nice to assist Boyd find a solution to finalising the Estate he was responsible for. I am very grateful to Troy who passed my Ancestry message on to Warren's family and also Lynda who has connected me with Warren. The pictures below are of Ted's medals, his discharge certificate and identity discs.
The returned medal tally is now 2370.

15 June 2019

Bede Sullivan

I received the WWII War Medal and Defence Medal awarded to NX27358 Bede Joseph Sullivan from Helen D who tells me the medals were found amongst the possession of a deceased relative.
Bede married but had no children. His sister married but she also had no children. Their brother Arthur didn't marry.
I then had to turn to the family of Bede's father William. He was from a large family and I found a trail through William's sister, Catherine. She married William Brennan and it is their grandson, Don who, thanks to another family member, I've been in touch with. Don tells me that he remembers the Sullivan family living in the same NSW regional town as him.
While doing this research I found that one of Bede's cousins was William Gregory Brennan died of wounds he received at Gallipoli. This is his obituary.
Thanks to Helen for sending me the medals and to Jezella for connecting me with Don.
The returned medal tally is now 2366.

10 June 2019

Wickens update

This link is to the story about Alfred Wickens whose BWM was recently returned. In summary the medal was in the possession of recently commissioned Captain Leon Upton and returned to Mark, a relative of Alfred. All this occurred in the UK.
Leon and Mark meet up and the the medal was handed to over. Mark has taken the next step and visited Alfred's grave. These photos are of Marks visit. He tells me that the workmen who were doing some repairs moved their tools to tidy up the sit a bit. The last photo is one that I took last week of Alfred's name in the commemorative cloisters of the Australian War Memorial.

06 June 2019

Defence Force Service Medal

This return is a real collaboration between Bill and myself.
Bill had the medal and provided me with the service details. I could use this and track down the phone number of the former soldier. Bill was then able to contact the person and finalise the return.
There really isn't much more to add to this story.
The returned medal tally is now 2364.

27 May 2019

10th Battalion AIF BWM

This is the story of a collaboration I had with Gary H who, for many years, had the British War Meal awarded to 3981 Julius Verno Sobels.
Julius was from South Australia which, as long time readers will know, is the most difficult Australian State for accessing public records. It was small snippets that we put together that led Gary to a relative in NSW and the medal has now been returned to the family.
The returned medal tally is now 2363.

21 May 2019

Leo Cunningham

This is one of those cases that go very smoothly from start to finish.
The 1939-45 Australian Service Medals awarded to NX14683 Leo George Cunningham arrived in the post on Friday. Over the weekend I found a family tree which included Leo. I fired off a message and this morning I received an email from Leo's grandson. My message had been passed on and we are now in contact.
I'm very grateful to the tree owner for putting me in touch with the family and also Chris C who sent me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 2362.

19 May 2019

Matthew Kelly - 1st Remount Unit

This is the second of the Remount Unit medals that Murray M sent me.
This 1914-15 Star was awarded to 390 Matthew Kelly. Matthew stated his age was 49 and 8 months when he enlisted in late 1915. Right on the age limit of 50 to enlist in the Remounts. However, it appears that Matthew might have lied about his age to make himself 10 years younger. All the evidence points at Matthew being born in 1856 making him 59 rather than 49. He died in 1938 aged 82 which confirms the year of birth. While it was common to see young men put their age up it was far less common to see an age put down.
Matthew's death notice names his numerous children with Allan being the oldest. Allan also served in WWI as 559 Allan Wain Kelly, Australian Army Veterinary Corps. Allan was very easy to follow through the electoral rolls. His second name of Wain was what I used to trace his descendants.
One of Allan's sons is Kevin Wain Kelly who served in the RAAF during WWII. The use of the name Wain also extend to the next generation of this family and I was able to identify Kevin Kelly Jnr in the 1980 electoral roll. The leap forward 39 years and a current contact number for Kevin was a bit of needle in a haystack to find but a punt lead me to North West, WA where Kevin now lives. Through Kevin Jnr I've now got the contact details of Kevin Snr who lives in Victoria. To add to the family service record, Kevin Jnr also served in WWII, Joy Alice Meharry.
Matthew's full medal entitlement is the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 
The returned medal tally is now 2361

18 May 2019

Henry Cecil Beauchamp

This return is a cracking story, much of the research has been put together by others and I'm very grateful that it landed with me to put the last piece in to the puzzle and locate the family. It is also a pretty complicated story so I'll try to be succinct.
My part in this epic began recently when I received an email from Murry M telling me that over the years he had obtained several medals awarded to members of the Remount Units. The Remount Units were pretty interesting in their own right. In order to free up Light Horse troopers who were left in Egypt while the majority of the regiments were fighting at Gallipoli, the Remount Units were raised. There were two units each of four squadrons. The enlistment age for a remount soldier was raised 50 and they were drawn from Boer War veterans or men who had experience handling horses. Following the withdrawal from Gallipoli the remount soldiers were used to deliver horses to Palestine and Syria.
Murray's interest in Remounts was due to a member of his own family having served in the same unit.
These are the medals that Murray sent me along with a substantial amount of research.

The first soldier I looked at was 1211 Henry Cecil Beauchamp. Henry's WWI AIF service record was easy to locate on the National Archives of Australia website but from it many questions came out. Firstly, his attestation paper says that he served in the 21st Lancers, a British unit. This explains the experience that Henry had to be a remount soldier as well and being aged 48. Later in the service record there is a letter (page5), dated 1967, from his daughter applying for the Anzac Commemorative Medallion. This was presented to soldiers who had served at Gallipoli. In this letter Henry's daughter states that her father had served at Omdurman (in present day Sudan), South Africa, India (with Sir Winston Churchill) and in WWI, including having gone to Gallipoli. The letter is annotated with the letters NE which stands of Not Entitled. Henry did not go to Gallipoli and I wonder if he embellished his record a bit despite his extensive service. This question comes up again in later research.
Two more interesting pieces of information that came out of his daughter's letter. She stated that prior to enlistment in the AIF they lived at Duntroon and that Henry's Long Service and Good Conduct Medal had been stolen at some time. The mention of Duntroon interested me and I found a link that confirmed that Henry worked as a civilian groom at RMC.
I found that Henry died in 1929 but it was his wife's death notice that helped me move forward. However, looking back at Henry's life made things a bit more complicated. Henry was know at a point in time as Henry Cecil Strickland de Beauchamps, Henry Cecil de Beauchamps, Leonard Hudson and Henry Cecil Beauchamp.
On 1 February 1886, aged 18 years and 7 months, Henry enlisted in the Royal Marines and was assigned to Depot Battalion. Not long after that, on 22 June 1886, he enlisted in the 21st Hussars under the name Leonard Hudson. Luckily, these British service records are available unlike meany that have been destroyed. There is a note on one page to say that Leonard's alias was Henry Cecil Beauchamp and a comment from his Commanding Officer that says:
'Claimed the benefit of the Queen's Pardon having confessed to having fraudulently 
enlisted into the 21st Hussars whilst belonging to the Royal Marine Light Infantry'.
This entry is undated but he continued to serve at the following locations:
Home (UK) 17 June 1886 to 21 November 1887
East Indies 22 November 1887 to 23 April 1894
Home (UK) 24 April 1894 to 16 June 1898.
No mention is made of serving in Africa and with a discharge date of June 1898 he missed the Battle of Omdurman by three months as it occurred in September 1898.
Henry re-enlisted on 23 April 1900 in to the 21st Lancers and served through to 10 February 1909 when he discharged with the rank of Sergeant. He qualified for his Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 1907. There is no mention that he served in South Africa.
This is Henry in his Lancers uniform. 
(Reproduced with kind permission of his family)

It is not clear exactly when Henry moved to Australia. It must have been about 1911. He would have been in his mid 40s. It was Henry's wife death notice that gave me the information I needed to move forward. In total they had 8 children, some who also emigrated while others stayed in the UK. 
Their eldest son was Harry Cecil Beauchamp. Harry's son served in the RAAF during WWII. This was FSGT Warwick Melville Beauchamp.
Warwick died on 19 April 1944 when his Liberator aircraft crashed while taking off at Sigiriva for an attack on an enemy convoy. Warwick is buried at Liveramentu Cemetery, Columbo. Warwick is mention in the 2014 Anzac Day address that was given of the HE Robyn Mudie, the Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. The following photos are of Warwick's headstone and the funeral of Warwick and his crew mates.
The family that I followed was that of one of Henry's daughters, Evelyn. It is her grand son, Brendan who I recently contacted and will send Henry's medal to. Henry served in the AIF from October 1915 to June 1916. For this service he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. It is the British War Medal what will be returned to his family. Where his other medals are is an interesting question. I also wonder what medals he was actually awarded in addition to the confirmed Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Murry is to be congratulated on the research he did prior to handing over everything to me. I'm just so pleased to be able to have quickly located Henry's great grandson.
The returned medal tally is now 2360.

WWII medal group of four

Bill combined with the Victorian Police Force to complete this return.

This has been a long time finalising.
The background to these medals are that the veteran died in April 2013. His wife passed away in January 2015 after which the family home was sold.
The new owners decided in 2017 to update the house. It was while a second story was being added that the medals were found. At that point the Police at Corio, Victoria became involved and later asked for my assistance.
The veteran’s daughter died in 2018. Her husband then kind of went on a ‘wander’. Finally I located him via his wife’s hairdresser (don’t ask). All that is now passed and the medals are ‘home’. Interesting way the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal were mounted. Also they were wrapped in plastic and paper so they are in very good condition. It appears that the veteran wore them each ANZAC day, up until just before he passed away.

The returned medal tally is now 2359. 

06 May 2019


Bill's latest story.
One of the things that Glyn and I have often commented on, is when we receive medals that have done the rounds. The search to return ‘George’s’ medals definitely fall in to this category and along the way been through many hands.
Bought in an Op-shop in Adelaide in 2004, they laid in a drawer till 2010, when the son of the purchaser found them and started to look for the recipient or his family. Eventually they landed in my mail box, late in 2016, and the search began anew.
War Graves, often my first port of call, had no registered date of death. So began a long hunt, via the State Library, and it’s newspaper archives, and the Electoral Rolls. 
First came a series of conflicting death notices. In short it soon became apparent that George, had been married, divorced and later remarried, and had outlived both wives. Then came the next question; if ‘George’ had died in 2006, as I now believed, how had his medals come to be sold in Adelaide in 2004. Unfortunately, since his death 2006, the funeral directors who handled his funeral had been taken over, and the hoped for records that would show a possible next of kin, had long been mislaid. In addition, ‘George’s’ ashes like his two wives had been scattered, and the name on his file was that of the Funeral Company which had been taken over.
Complicating the search was that none of the names appearing in ‘George’s’ death notice were found in the Electoral Rolls as living with ‘George’ and his first wife.
So now it was back to the State library, and the slow search to find a marriage notice of his daughter, or should I say a lady who shared the first name of ‘George’s’ daughter.
Then the slow grind to find her and her husband, only this time via a combination of both of their names on the electoral rolls. However, for every step forward, I found myself slipping back. Particularly when I thought I had found ‘George’s’ daughter and her husband. But he had moved following the death of his wife, ‘George’s’ daughter. Fortunately the newspapers were up to date and the funeral directors willing to pass my details to the family, in this case ‘George’s’ son in law.
'George’s' medals are now home, with his grandson. Shortly they will be wending their way to A1 Service medals (that’s a free plug, Glyn). I then hope to post an updated picture, of ‘George’s medals.

The returned medal tally is now 2359. 

30 April 2019

F W G Johnson

The story behind these medals is pretty hard to believe but not much surprises me these days. Having now spoken to Fred's daughter I can fill in all the gaps.
These medals are in as issued condition and still in the box of issue. Along with the medals was a letter written by Fred in 2002 addressed to Christies requesting that the medals be mounted to wear. Somehow the medals went missing in the mail, they eventually found their way to the Directorate of Honours and Awards before being sent to me.
Fred was NX30929 Frederick William George Johnson, he served in Syria and later PNG. After WWII he didn't participate in Anzac Day marches but in the early 2000s he decided to became more involved and get his medals mounted. Fred died in 2004.
It took me some time to work out Fred's family tree but today I was able to track down Fred's nephew. To my very pleasant surprise he was able to provide me with the Fred's daughter name and phone number. I was soon talking to Sandy who filled in all the blanks about Fred's medals.
Thanks again to Honours and Awards for sending these to me and to Peter for helping me get in touch with Sandy.
The returned medal tally is now 2355.