02 July 2024

Korean War medals mystery

Through a contact I have in the Directorate of Honours and Awards I was connected with the family of 33522 Trevor Rex McQuinn. They recently discovered that Trevor's medal group of five contained two medals which were named to someone else. 

There is no doubt about Trevor's entitlement to Korea Medal, Australian Service Medal with Korea and PNG clasps, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, Australian Defence Medal and UN Korea Medal. However, the Korea Medal and the UN Korea Medal are named to 21866 George Raymond Hatton. How these two medals came to be in Trevor's group is a mystery.

George died in 2003 but through a combination of information available in the electoral rolls and death notices I worked out the names of his children and eventually contacted his daughter. 

The family of Trevor and George have now been in touch and the medals will be returned. The next step is to locate the original Korean War medals awarded to 33522 Trevor Rex McQuinn. If anyone knows their location please send me a message. 

The returned medal tally is now 2897. 

       


01 July 2024

Zebulon Ross Jeffrey - WWII, ANARE and the Vietnam War

This has been quite an interesting piece of research. It all started with an email from a friend of mine Shane R who I first served with in 1995. As the way is in the Army, our paths crossed on occasion as we were posted around the country and more recently we have been in touch through social media. Shane is now involved with an RSL sub-branch in South Australia and it is this context that he enlisted my help. 

Shane's sub-branch recently received several medals awarded to Zebulon Ross Jeffery who had an interesting service career. Zeb was obviously a smart man. Once he finished high school he was accepted in to the University of Queensland. Then, in 1944 he enlisted in the RAAF as aircrew. This is the link to his WWII service record. In May 1945 he was re-trained to be a Japanese linguist. Following the end of WWII, Zeb became part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force and stayed in Japan until he was discharged, at the rank of sergeant, in 1947.  

In 1967, Zeb enlisted in the Army (RASigs) and served in the Vietnam War. This is the link to his DVA service synopsis. He retired at the rank of major.

The medallion that comes with these medals is in recognition of Zeb's time with Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) as a radio physicist. This link is the obituary the ANARE Club published

Through a family tree on Ancestry I was able to connect Zeb's son and Shane so that the medals can be returned. The returned medal tally is now 2891. 




06 June 2024

Discharged returned soldiers badge

Quite often I receive returned from active service badges which are rather difficult to research. Each badge is numbered. However, the number is an issue number rather then the veterans' service number. The issue number has to be connected to a name in records which are often difficult to find.

In the case of the WWI Discharge Returned Soldiers Badge there are some hand written registers available on the National Archives of Australia website. These registers are not complete and to complicate matters further, the WW1 badges were issued on a state basis and not all states retained the registers.

I recently received a badge and other items as can be seen in the picture. Luckly, the badge number was in one of the registers and I could work out it was issued to Clement William Sawyer. I've been in contact with the family and all these items have now been returned.

The returned medal tally is now 2886.





13 May 2024

WWII RAAF medal pair

This is somewhat of a short story mainly due to the speed which the research was resolved.

This medal pair, awarded to 48645 Douglas Royston Higgins, was handed into the South Australian Police, who forwarded them to the Directorate of Honours and Awards and finally they came to me. Higgin's full name is distinctive so it didn't take long to follow him through the electoral rolls and Ancestry family trees. The family trees showed he had a son but listed as a private entry. 

The most difficult piece of the puzzle was finding the son's name. Once that was resolved came the realisation the son died only last year. The funeral notice provided all the details I need to contact the family. A positive outcome for less than an hour of research.     

The retuned medal tally is now 2883.




10 April 2024

Australian Service Medal

In the mail last week was a box with a return address of the Brisbane City Council. There was no way to identify exactly who the sender was, or from which department inside the council structure it came. 

Inside the box was an Australian Service Medal with clasp Timor Leste. The cardboard sleeve around the medal box shows water damage and the medal is rusty. This medal has been out in the elements for a while. 

As soon as I saw the name on the box a bell of familiarity started to ring. As it turns out this medal was awarded to the son of someone I've served with in the past. It took about 30 minutes to track down my colleague's phone number and then it was catch up time as well as explain how the medal came my way. What we don't know was how the medal was lost in the first place. 

Thank you to the unknown Good Smartian in the Brisbane City Council. 

The returned medal tally is now 2881.




12 February 2024

Glen O'Toole part 2

The post is the next chapter of the story I posted about Glen O'Toole in August 2020.

This update is about two more medals awarded to Glen which Jason S purchased from a St Vinnies store about three years ago. When he started to research the medals, he came across my original post and sent me a message. I fired of an email to Glen's nephew, Robert, who I sent the other medal to. Robert was amazed these additional medals have surfaced. I'll send them to him shortly.

The returned medals tally is now 2880.   




02 February 2024

Service in both World Wars

This is one of these bits of research that was going no where until one piece of information solved the whole problem.

These medals, both the main group and the miniatures came from RSL Care SA. Victor James Hopkins was born in Victoria in 1896. He served in WWI with the service number 4519.  Victor was received a gunshot wound on 4 September 1918 and repatriated to Australia. This didn't stop Victor enlisting in WWII with the number VX18590. He did have to lie about his age to enlist.


There was limited information available on the public record about Victor's life. I had to make a couple of assumptions about him to narrow down the search possibilities until I could either prove or disprove those assumptions. For example, Victor named his father as his next of kin both times he enlisted. This suggested that he didn't marry. That was the start point of looking at the Birth, Death and Marriage records and marriage notices in news papers. I found no evidence he married. I found his father's death notice which only mentions Victor. This suggests he was an only child.

The search then began for the siblings of his parents. After a false start which took over a year to close off, I looked at his mother, Agnes McClure. I had to go back in history to her parents Ralph and Margaret McClure, and work out the names of any other children who were Agnes' siblings. This is the lead which led to success. 

I've now been in contact with Annie who is descended from Ralph and Margaret and her family will become the custodian of Victor's medals.

The returned medal tally is now 2878.










 
     

29 December 2023

RAAF WWII medal

This is a very short story for a very quick return.

The search started with a Facebook post on a genealogy page about the search of the family of Jean May Martin who served in the RAAF during WWII. One of her medals had been found by Katrina who reached out for assistance and my friend Sandra referred Katrina to me. It took about 5 minutes to link Jean and her family via Ancestry. A message to the tree owner connected Katrina with Jean's family. 

The returned medal tally is now 2864.

23 December 2023

WWII RAN group

One of my most enduring partnerships is with the Directorate of Honours and Awards. The staff will often receive medals from the public with a request to have them returned to the veteran. I'm more than happy to assist by doing the research to find either the veteran or their family. Donna B is one of the kind staff members who forwards me the lost medals they receive. She recently sent a package of several medals which included a WWII group of four medals awarded to S5325 Galvan Solomon Thompson, RAN.  

Galvin married Lorna Mavis Goodwin but there is no evidence they had any children. Through an Ancestry family tree I've been able to contact Holly, a member of Galvan and Lorna's broader family. Holly will soon be passing the medals to the most appropriate family member to be the custodian.  

The returned medal tally is now 2867. There are a few slightly interesting points about these medals. As was the RAN policy at the time, the stars were not name, however, the circular medals were. The group is mounted with the circular medals facing the wrong way. And these medals have been polished with Brasso, any soldier will recognise the white residue of dried Brasso that has filled the impressed naming.  



20 December 2023

Duplicate WWII medals

When a set of duplicate medals is sent to me it means that not only the original issued group have been lost but also the official replacement set. This link is to a post which explains all about duplicate medals

These medals were awarded to N245888 William Edward Meridith and from his service record I can see he received the original medals in 1955. Over the years he lost his discharge certificate twice and applied for a replacement. There is no correspondence on his file about him having lost his medals. It would have been interesting to see the reason why as official replacement medals are only provided under specific circumstances. Also with the medals is a copy 1939-45 Star.

William's medals were sent to me by Janine S who came across them in her uncle's possessions. How they came to be there is not known. I started this search yesterday and found William on an Ancestry family tree owned by Margaret. It is a bit of a complicated family connection. However, William raised his grandson who lives NSW, his son, William's great grandson, will be visiting Margaret in the near future. I'll send William's medals to Margaret tomorrow and not long after that they will be passed to his grandson.

The returned medal tally is now 2863.  











19 December 2023

WWII RAAF KIA medals

This is a summary of a recent online conversation I had:

Hi Lost Medals Australia, I'm currently helping out a guy who has found some WW2 medals whilst doing a renovation on a home he purchased in 1999.
With research, we have found that the medals belonged to Australian Flight Sergeant John William Houseman service number 424634, born 12.9.1922 and died 21.7.1944. He was seconded to RAF  626 Squadron and was a rear air gunner on a Lancaster bomber (that was attacked by a JU 88) which crashed at Zietenary ou Zoetenaise, Belgium. He was single and childless at the time, aged 22 years. 
The medals were forwarded to his sister Betty Estelle Richman, nee Houseman. Betty passed away in 2014. She and her husband adopted two girls and the girls had 3 sons according to her husband's obituary in 1997. We have tried local newspapers, family history sites and local RSL with no success.

Hi and thank you for your message, I can do one better. The daughters are Jennifer Jane and Ann Margaret. Jennifer married Alex. Their son is Ben. Sadly Jennifer died in 2015. The layer who handled both Betty and Jennifer's estate can be contacted on..... Why don't you call and see if they can put you in touch with the family?

Hi Glyn - Just an update re the service medals of Flight Sergeant John William Houseman. With the additional information you supplied, I was able to contact the solicitor you named and now have had contact with the family. They are truly pleased the medals have turned up and are looking forward to their return to the family. I hope to be there when that happens along with a number of others that helped us get to this point. Can't thank you enough for the information you supplied as I had hit a brick wall with my research. The local paper is going to run a follow up story to mark the occasion. 


Based on the names I was provided I had quite a bit of difficulty trying to work out the married names of Betty's daughters. There was no published death notice but I did find the probate notice for Betty which gave me Jennifer's married name. This was a bit of a surprise for a death in 2014 but is now a resource I'll use in the future.

The returned medal tally is now 2854

Assisting the Victorian Police

This search commenced with an email from Victorian Police Sergeant S Cook. His station was in possession of four WWII medals and returned from active service badge awarded to VX142364 Geoffrey Griffin.

It took a bit of time to work out who Geoffrey was until I worked out his middle name was John. This small piece of additional information opened up the full story. Geoffrey died in 1987 and I could find no evidence he married. He died in 1987. His NOK during WWII was his sister Ruby. 

Ruby married Leslie Albert Blair and had two sons. One son died in 2009 and the other in 2017. I did manage to find the children of one son and provided all this information to Sergeant Cook. As it turns out, one of Geoffrey's relatives through this family line is a detective in the Victorian Police.

The returned medal tally is now 2849. 


28 November 2023

John Bede Brown

This is the third group of medals that recently came from the NSW RSL. 

NX177554 John Bede Brown was one of 12 children. He was known by his family as Jack and remained a bachelor. An interesting piece of detail from this service record is that following the Japanese surrender it appears he served in Japan as part of the occupation force. 

Through Ancestry, I've found a niece who will accept Jack's medals into the family. Several of Jack's siblings also served and the medals will join those of one of his brothers. 

The returned medal tally is now 2844.








27 November 2023

Changi POW

This is the second of the groups of medals I recently received from NSW RSL HQ. Another group of four, this time awarded to NX42133 William James Finlay. William was captured in 1942 and became a prisoner of Japan. He was held at Changi prison.

There are a couple of interesting pieces of correspondence in his service record about his medals. Now I can return them to his niece Anne.

Thanks again to Ivan from the NSW RSL.

The returned medal tally is now 2840.  


26 November 2023

Edward Doodson

Over the years I've received large collections of medals from the NSW RSL accompanied by a request to do my best to find the family of the veteran. In the majority of cases I've been successful and it is a real pleasure to do this for NSW RSL. Most recently, Ivan from RSL HQ sent me five WWII groups which came from a RSL sub-branch which is closing down.  
This is the story, albeit short, of the first of those five groups being returned.
The soldier was NX877844 Edward Albert Doodson. My first step on the research path was Ancestry.com.au and I found Edward on a family tree. I sent a message to the tree owner and moved onto the next search. It didn't take long until I heard back from tree owner Brooke who confirmed I had the correct family. That positive response means I don't have too much detail to provide about Edward other than his service record which includes his photo on enlistment.
The returned medal tally is now 2837.




     

30 October 2023

Alfred George Chenery

QX2265 Alfred George Chenery saw overseas service in the Middel East and Africia during WWII. He then served in Japan as a sergeant in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force having transferred from the 2nd AIF to the Interim Army. It is sad to read Alfred was discharged on 15 September 1948 due to chronic alcoholism. 

Usually a story like this end there with little more information on the public record. That is not the case for Alfred. On 3 February 1954, Alfred was assaulted at a Townsville Hotel and later died. The newspaper report is below at this link.  

The man who assaulted to Alfred was later found guilty of Alfred's death.
These two medals awarded to Alfred came to me from my friend John Franklin, OAM. John is a talented medal mounter. John originally received these medals from a person who has had them years and wanted to see them returned. 
Alfred never married but I have been in contact with a relative who I'll send his medals to. The returned medal tally is now 2833.  

25 October 2023

Late issue WWII medals

These three WWII medals are quite uncommon. Not the medals themselves, rather when they were issued. Most WWII medals were awarded in the 1950s and were named by being impressed in a machine. The naming on these medals has been done using a laser. That makes them late issue, probably after 2000. 

I found early in the search that the recipient died in 1972. His memorial plaque also gave me the name of all his children which helped in the search.

The medals awarded to VX50465 GNR Eric Maxwell Sleep came to me from the Directorate of Honours and Awards. Prior to that they had been recovered by the Queensland Police in Bundaberg with other stolen items. I now know the medals were issued to GNR Sleep's son and were stolen from a storage locker. They will soon be returned to Eric's son, Trevor.

The returned medal tally is now 2831.



The difference in the naming methods between these examples and the more common impressing is very clear in these pictures.