09 January 2017

Cecil Westwood MN

Cecil Thomas Westwood was born in Lincoln UK in 1917, the son of James and Edith (nee Broadbury) Westwood. During WWII Cecil served in the Merchant Navy. He later moved to New Zealand and continued his career as a marine engineer. He was married to Mairi Mackinnon but there is no evidence that they had any children. I've located a relative in NZ and will send them this collection shortly.
Cecil's miniature medals, his passport and several other persona items were found by the staff of the Townsville St Vincent de Paul's.
Thanks to Alicia for sending this collection to me.
The returned medal tally is now 2005.

08 January 2017

Ernest Davies - our 2000th return

The search was a reasonably complicated one which pivoted on one simple constant fact that I could follow through the both UK and Australian records.
6452 Ernest James Davies was a 33 year old single draper when he enlisted in 21st Battalion, AIF in 1916. Ernest saw service in France but he suffered from the conditions he encountered in the trenches.
Ernest was born in 1883 in Aberdare, Wales to James and Ann Davies. His parents names were in his service record so he was easy to find in the UK census records. He was one of 10 children. The problem I faced was working out which of the many men by this name was the right person living in Australia. This led me back to that one constant: Ernest was a draper.
I located the correct immigration record and found that Ernest, at the age of 30 in 1913, left the UK aboard the Orient Line ship "Otranto" for Melbourne. This helped me to narrow down the possible options in the Australian electoral rolls until I isolated the correct man based on his employment - a draper. Also at the same address was Gladys Davies who turned out to be Gladys Annie Ester Price who Ernest married in 1925 aged 42. There is no evidence that they had children so I had to go back and research Ernest's nine siblings.
One sister, Lena, married Arthur Jenkins and their son was Thomas James Jenkins. Thomas' daughter is Linda who married Neil Pxxxx. Their daughter is Sarah who I found is doctor in the UK. My only contact option was to call Sarah's practice, request their email address and hope an email would get through to her.I got far more in return than I could hope for. Sarah forwarded my email to Linda who has contacted me with some additional information which has filled in a few blanks that I had about the Davies/Jenkins connections. Linda is Ernest's great niece and I'll soon end the medal to her in the UK.
This search has been going on since June 2015 when I received Ernest's BWM from Max Howard of the Toodyay RSL. How the medal ended up in rural WA is a mystery I don't think will every be explained.
This might just be a simple medal but for Bill and me, as well as all those associated with Lost Medals Australia over the years, it marks a significant milestone as this is the 2000th medal that we have returned.

07 January 2017

Ron Towe

Great work by Bill.

The stories Glyn and I tell often fall into various categories. One is the slow but steady search, where we tick the boxes as we go. The others, well I am not sure how I would describe the return of the war medals of Ronald James Towe, but here goes.
‘About 1972, Dad was a ‘tip fossicker’ at the old Oakleigh Tip, he said he always planned to return them. I found them about ten years ago when I cleaned out his garage.' With this explanation from the donor, the search to return of the medals of 438631 Ronald James Towe began, for the second time. Or was it the third time?
The first problem I faced was the service number, my immediate reaction was that Ron had served in the RAAF. That idea lasted up until I could not find him either in the Australia War Memorial Index, nor in the Australian National Archives. The closest I came was the Index reference to a A33224, Warrant Officer Ronald James Towe. Which I found confusing in that the A33224 number was a post WW2 enlistment number, yet Warrant Officer Towe had been included in the WW2 Index.
So then it was the electoral rolls, and the help of Australian Surname Group. All went well until 1980, when the ER’s petered out. My next option and one I should have thought of first was to go to War Graves in Canberra.
Yes they did have a date of death for a Ronald James Towe. However, they showed two service numbers on the 438631 and also a second service number, A33224. So now while I could then concentrate on one Ronald James Towe, there was no mention of how War Graves had two service numbers, but the National Archives and the AWM did not.
It was a question that would not be answered until almost a year later, when I finally found and spoke to Kevin, Ronald’s brother.
At the conclusion of WW2, Ronald signed on to serve in the RAAF. Through, some error, mistake, or administrative procedure, Ron was given a new service number and all reference to his original number was erased from both the AWM and the National Archives.
Readers will note that there are only three medals involved and only one, the 1939-1945 Star, is actually impressed. This was quite common with RAAF medals issued at the end of WW2. It was the number 438631, that originally led me to believing Ron had served in the RAAF. His later issued medals carried his new service number.
Ron led an adventurous life in the RAAF, serving in Japan at Nagasaki and later at Maralinga in South Australia.
However at this point, at the request of his family, we can say no more.

The returned medal tally is now 1999. 

06 January 2017

George Patroni

I'm using a leave period to spend some time revisiting several searches which have proved difficult in the past. A fresh look and a calculated guess has resolved this case.
I received the 1914/15 Star awarded to 929 George Patrick Walton Petroni from Major Neil Leckie who has entrusted medals to me in the past. It was relatively easy to follow George through the electoral rolls but a link to the current generation of his family eluded me.
Following the War, George was a publican all around Australia so there were a few gaps in the records. I found his head stone (pictured below) which gave me the name of his children. This included the name Patricia. Today, I found one reference to a Patricia Patroni on the Victorian BDM and her marriage to J Rowlands. It then became a process of elimination through the electoral rolls and one entry for their son, Peter. This entry also gave be a general location in Victoria in 1980. I found the same name/initial combination in the White Pages for the next suburb and this became the educated guess. Sure enough, when I rang the number I had located George's grandson.
Patricia's husband served in WWII and I've added a picture of his plaque.
The returned medal tally is now 1996.

Bill Lloyd

While the story behind this medal is relatively simple it is the coincidences that have occurred to get it back to the family which are interesting.
The War Medal awarded to VX118640 Ernest William (Bill) Lloyd was another of those sent to me bu Ted Ayres from York, Western Australia. Bill was from Melbourne and lived there all his life so how the medal ended up in a small WA farming community is a mystery.
In my search for Bill I found a picture of his headstone and entries in the electoral rolls but not much else. I revisited this search yesterday, having let it rest since May 2015. To my surprise I found Bill on the Ancestry tree of Dr Alan Arnold. Alan is Bill's nephew. I was surprised even more to discover that Alan lives in Canberra and listed in the White Pages. I called Alan and found that he lives only a short distance from me. Another coincidence is that Alan lectured at ADFA for several years and many of my contemporaries were students there at the same time.
This morning I called past Alan's house and dropped Bill's medal off.
The returned medal tally is now 1995.

04 January 2017

Ronald Reoch

In many cases there is not a lot to tell about the solider, the medal or the search. This is one such case. 3837 Roland Reoch was a solider in 15th Battalion AIF. It was a reasonably easy to trace his family through the electoral rolls until 1980. It then took me over 18 months to make a connection with a family member who I can return the medal to. It will now join his brother Richard's WWII medals.
Thanks to Mark R who sent the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1994.

03 January 2017

Jack Iredale

The WWII War Medal awarded to 427886 Jack Keith Iredale has had a pretty tough life. The medal has come away from the suspender and there are two big nicks in the rim just past the name. This is another medal sent to me by Ted Ayres and it has taken since April 2016 to locate Jack's son Rod.
The returned medal tally is now 1993.

27 December 2016

Thomas Sparks

It has been a few years since either Bill or I have received a old tin full of bits and bobs including medals. This particular collection came to me from Alice and Avon H who found it in a property they purchased. They were told that the tin had originally been found at the local tip.
The tin contains many items connected to NX585 Thomas William Sparks. There are his medals, his discharge certificate and other documents, badges and other personal items. From his number it is clear that Sparks was an early enlistee from NSW. What came as a surprise to me is that he was a member of the 6th Division Cavalry Regiment which was immediate familiar to me as a fore runner to a unit I have served in: 2nd Cavalry Regiment. This is Sparks entry for this unit.
When I received Alice's first email about this collection I found a bit of information about Sparks quite quickly. While he lived for many years in NSW, I found that he was buried in Queensland. I also found his wife's name was Nancy. Using the search parameters of their first names and being resident in Queensland, I found the 1980 electoral roll entry for Thomas and Nancy living on the Gold Coast. This is the last roll available online so a bit of luck had gone my way. Also listed at the same address was another Thomas Sparks which I assumed to be their son. That is where I felt the research until the medals arrived just before Christmas.   
This afternoon I double checked my research and came to the same conclusion and found one person in the White Pages whose initial/name combination matched the 1980 electoral roll entry. I took a punt and called the number to find that I had the right connection. I had located Sparks' son.
Thank you Alice for trusting me and sending all these items to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1992.

13 December 2016

Percival James Chandos Mellor

It often mystifies me how medals end up where there do. Especially when they originate from the other side of the world and there is no obvious explication as to how they got to Australia.
The BWM awarded to 329149 Sapper Percival James Chandos Mellor was sent to me by the Narrogin RSL. Narrogin is a small farming community about 200km south east of Perth but when I had a close look at Percival's history there is no link with this part of Australia.
Percival was a 42 year old, single schoolmaster from Birmingham UK, when he enlisted in August 1918. His corps was the Royal Engineers and he arrived in France just before the armistice.
Percival married in 1929 aged 53 but there is no other record I could find until the probate of his will in 1960. His estate was valued at a little over 3000GBP and the beneficiary was named as Andrew John Perry, schoolmaster. The only other lead I found was on an Ancestry tree which put me in contact with the family of Percival's brother.
Without some serious research I don't think that I'll be able to work out how the medal got to Narrogin. Thanks to Lorraine of the Narrogin RSL who trusted me to complete this research on their behalf.
The returned medal tally is now 1982.

23 November 2016

V G 'George' Dougherty

Another two medals that Barry sent me along with the Doran pair are the British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to 6080 ER-SGT Virgil 'George' Gladstone Dougherty. This search was completed with in 24 hours of me receiving the medals while the Doran search took 18 hour - thank you Internet.
George was a widower when he enlisted for WWI. His eldest, Emily. was listed as his next of kin. George married a second time and had another daughter who died as an infant. I then went back to and researched Emily who married Henry Colin Gadd and it is this family who I tracked down tonight.
As part of my search I also found a picture of George which was published in 1916.
The returned medal tally is now 1981.

Edgar Winslow

I've mentioned my friend Catherine Hindson in several posts and this is another occasion where our paths come together again.
Catherine contacted me recently about some medals a friend of hers had. One of the medals, a BWM, was awarded to 3128 Edgar Wade Winslow. Winslow was easy to follow through the electoral rolls. I had the name of his daughter which was Olwyn and that of her daughter Judith. Then the trail ran cold.
Searching further afield I found a family tree which included all these names so I contacted the tree owner and they are all related. I'll send the medal back to this family shortly.
Thank you Catherine and Yvonne for sending the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1979.

Jim Peake - part 2

I first published this story about Jim Peake in Feb 2015. There were several coincidence involved in the original return and I didn't think there would be any additional information. That assumption was turned on its head recently when I received a message from former soldier Russ Constable who had come across one of Jim's WWII dog tags while metal detecting at Lake Tinaroo in FNQ.
Russ tells me that this area of Queensland was used for training prior to the troops going off to the Pacific. Later the area was flooded when the Tinaroo Dam was built. However, recent drought conditions has caused the water levels to drop exposing parts of the lake floor for the first time in years. Russ got to work detecting this location and has found several items including the dog tag.
You can imagine Russ' surprise when he started researching Jim and came across my story. A letter from Russ arrived today and I'll forward everything on to Jim's nephew Bill.
The returned medal tally is now 1978.

2LT Victor Doran

When I discover that a solider I'm researching was killed in action there is always a feeling of sadness. This particular story took on another dimension when I realised that two sons from this family died within months of each other.
Victor Frederick Doran enlisted in 1915 and proceeded with 16th Battalion to Gallipoli. He was later selected for officer training and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He rejoined his battalion in April 1917 and then was killed in action on 11 June 1917 at Messines.
On the front page of Victor's service record I saw a note about 3101 Albert Phillip Doran so I had a look at his record. Albert was KIA on 20 October 1917. Both of the brother's records have copies of correspondence from their father trying to get more information or establish the whereabouts of their belongings. It is impossible to imagine what their mother went through having lost both her sons. It is probably not surprising that both soldier's memorial plaques have been attached to their parents headstone.
Although this family originally came from Echua they moved to WA where the Doran brother enlisted. At some point in the 1920s the parents must have moved back to Victoria. The medals were sent to me by Barry who runs a medal mounting business in WA. Barry had been given the medals by a client who hadn't realised that this group and another weren't awarded to relatives.
The returned medal tally is now 1977.

I have very kindly been provided a photo of a plaque that was placed in memory of the Doran brothers and a news paper article about it.

Edward's medals found in a storage unit

This story from Bill shows the measures we will go to in a search for a family.

By now those who read this blog will be aware medals come from many sources, some with stories come with stories which only become fully known when we find the family.
Edward’s medals came from a storage company, where they had been carefully filed away since the storage unit was opened for non-payment of his account. Unfortunately, when Edward died in 2006, he had never bothered to nominate a seconder should anything happen to him. While the contents were sold to cover Edward’s outstanding account, his medals were put aside, in the hope that someday, somehow they could be returned to his family. This didn't occur and I found myself being presented with the medals in February of this year.
As you can see, the medals were originally set up for being placed in a display case. Unfortunately the case was, I believed, dropped, the glass broken and the medals then transferred to an envelope.
Edward had two sisters and five brothers and it was only through a slow and painstaking search that we were able to locate Margaret the daughter of his eldest brother Thomas. It was the team at the Australian Surname Group that gave me Margaret’s address from 2000. However by 2008 she no longer appeared under her maiden name on the Electoral Rolls. Which if she had married in this time would be the case.
In desperation, four weeks ago I went walking, starting with Margaret’s last address where the current occupants had no knowledge of her. Finally I got lucky, one of the occupants had move into the street just before Margaret moved on. While she knew little of Margaret, she did remember that ‘the lady in question (Margaret) often used to visit the lady in the house on the corner’.
Unfortunately, the owner of the ‘house on the corner’ was not home, and while I did leave a message it would take several visits till I was able to speak to her and ask her to contact Margaret to call me. It would be a week before I was able to speak to Margaret and another week before I could deliver Edward’s medals to her. It was only then that I found out that while Edward had been married, both his son and wife died early.

The returned medal tally is now 1975.

15 November 2016

Efficiency Decoration returned

For a whole lot of reasons Bill is unable to tell us much about this particular return.
Glyn and I often bemoan little gold safety pins, that have done sterling work for decades, only to fail, usually when a family member is wearing a beloved relatives medals. However, in the case of Captain T’s Efficiency Decoration, it wasn’t a safety pin that failed but rather the ribbon that held the medal to the medal bar.
So a habit medal wearers have to get used to is occasionally, well actually each time you wear them and before you put them away, check the medals. If the ribbon or clasp is worn despite any sentimental attachment to the ribbon, get it remounted.

The returned medal tally is now 1969.

14 November 2016

More assistance to the Victorian Police

This is another example of Bill's good work assisting the Victorian Police Force. Due to an ongoing investigation following the recovery of these medals we can't say much. To quote Bill: 'the pictures speak for themselves'.
The returned medal tally is now 1968.

25 October 2016

Marcus Nash

Last week I received a package from Jackie, my contact at Australia Post in Queensland. An item had come out of its packaging so the delivery address was unknown. The item was an Army Medallion for Exemplary Service. As it turned out the medallion was on it's way to Melbourne to be presented to Private Marcus Nash for his work establishing the Blue Green Crew. His group assists ADF members, Police officers and Emergency Service members deal with PTSD. Through a few contacts I found that Marcus' CO is a friend of mine so we quickly arranged for the medallion to be sent by express post to his unit for presentation on Tuesday 25 October 2016.
I've very kindly been supplied the citation for this award which speaks for itself:

Private Marucs C Nash, Royal Australian Corps of Military Police, is awarded the Soldier's Medallion for Exemplary Service as a Private whilst posted to the 1st Military Police Battalion.
An efficient and conscientious soldier whose enthusiasm is reflected in the execution of his duties. PTE Nash's provision of support and assistance continuously seeks to improve the working environment and morale of his comrades whilst his initiative and exemplary work ethic has seen him contributing on many occasions above and beyond what is expected of a junior soldier. PTE Nash's actions have seen him become an integral and highly regarded member of the platoon who's initiative, maturity and dedication has set a fine example for soldiers of 1st Military Police Battalion.
Through his tireless and selfless work in the establishment of "The Blue Green Crew", PTE Nash has provided a unique and unparalleled opportunity to the Defence, Policing and Emergency Services community. Offering the opportunity for those facing significant stress (including PTSD) and social hardships to take a much needed break away from work related stressors to participate in an all inclusive, positive and supportive outdoors environment. Initially funding the program out of his own pocket, PTE Nash and The Blue Green Crew have positively and significantly influenced the lives of many who routinely dedicate their lives to assisting others.
PTE Nash's dedication and efforts have led to him being held in the highest regards amongst both Defence and Civilian Emergency Services communities. His initiative and ongoing work serves as an exemplary and positive step forward in today's focus on mental health and social support.
The returned medal tally is 1965.

23 October 2016

Charles Marson MSM

Yesterday I received a package from Karen F in WA which contained a Meritorious Service Medal and 1914 Star (the Mons Star). Karen lives in a small town in WA and I was intrigued how these medals came to be there.
The medals were awarded to Charles Harry Marson who was born in 1885. His parents were Richard and Sarah. From the UK census records it was apparent that Charles was a blacksmith serving in the British Army prior to 1911 as a shoeing smith. His corps was the Army Veterinary Corps.
The records got a bit confused after that as I found a Charles Henry Marson who emigrated to WA in 1920. The electoral rolls showed that this man was blacksmith and he moved around WA a bit, living in York and Perth. I had no conclusive proof that this was the same man who used the middle names of Harry and Henry until I found the death records which confirmed that Charles Henry's parents were Richard and Sarah. It was indeed the same man. It also explained how the medals came to be in WA. There is no evidence that Charles married or had any children.
From there I found a family tree belonging to Charles great great grand nephew, a direct descendant of Charles' brother Francis. This relative lives on the Channel Island of Guernsey and I'll send him the medals in the near future.
Karen also sent me several miniature medals which are the wrong combination to have been awarded to Charles. These are going to be a bit more difficult to research.
The returned medal tally 1965. Sorry Bill but the research took less than an hour.

18 October 2016

Noel Harvey

Last week I got an email from a staff member at Kapooka telling me that during a recent audit of some memorabilia they discovered that a medal they though was a replica was actually authentic. The medal was awarded to Noel Mcleay Harvey who served in the RAAF. Noel did train at the RAAF base at Uranqunity which is not far from Kapooka, but I don't think that his medal came to be there as WWII medals weren't issued until well after the war ended.
Noel was pretty easy to trace through the electoral rolls and this lead me to his three sons, one who I found in the White Pages. Very soon Noel's Pacific Star will be returned to his family.
The returned medal tally is now 1963.

16 October 2016

WWII medals to brothers

This search started with an email from a WA Police Officer who had recovered two sets of WWII medals. In his email to me, Constable Law said:
"I checked the engraved details on the medals and found that they belong to Bowyer Frederick PEARCE and John Albert PEARCE, possibly brothers or at least close relatives. The real shock to our team was when we identified that the date of death recorded for Bowyer is the 11 Oct 1942, the same date we located his medals in 2016."
What a remarkable coincidence. As it turns out Constable Law and I have a connection though Christ Church Grammar School but that is another story.
It didn't take much to find Boyer and John in the records and it turns out that Bowyer, a RAAF Warrant Officer died in India in 1940. John was killed in action on 10 June 1945 and is buried in Labuan Cemetery. 
Bowyer and John and included on an Ancestry family tree and a message sent to the owner soon put me in touch with Sue who is their niece. I now know that eight medals were stolen recently during a house break in. Sue has very kindly allowed me to reproduce the pictures below.
The returned medal tally is now 1962.

Post update 19 Oct 16
I have very kindly been provided a picture of the medals that were recovered.