23 December 2009


This is Bill's story so here it is in his words:

'It involves the WW2 medals and the 1945-1975 ASM of George McFARLANE, in fact the ASM has not yet been added to the others.
Robert McFARLANE has spent many years trying and occasionally succeeding in acquiring mementos of his father.
Just imagine his horror, to discover that after an extensive cleanup of the house and the usual discarding of all the old boxes that have been collected over the year, his father's medals which he had carefully collected, were missing.
The question was where?.
Answer is the Salvation Thrift shop in Lilydale where several of the boxes of old clothes ended up, fortunately one of the workers recognised the medals, and after a brief attempt at finding the owner gave up. It was after medals had been through three different sets of hand that they were passed to me on last Friday night, and with help from the 'Yuku Members', War Graves, and Preston Cemetery, I eventually located Robert.
So tonight in Lilydale there is a very relieved man, first that he has his father's medals back and second that many years of searching has not been for nought.'

The medals returned tally is now 570.

12 December 2009


This WWI British War Medal is being returned to the family of 6578 Fredrick James Shawman . The family name was originally SCHAUMAN but was changed to SHAWMAN around the time of WWI, possibly to remove any link to German heritage. The search has been a little difficult but a lead from super sleuth Tim L put me in touch with a lady who provided me a link to a closer decedent to Shawman. This turned out to be just the person I was looking for and the medal will be sent back this morning.
The medal returned tally is now 564.
This is another example where some of the letters are soft struck. The service number and rank are very deep but the H and W in the surname are quite faint.

28 November 2009

N386950 Edward Wilson

N386950 Edward Wilson was one of many Australian WWII servicemen who did not go overseas but provided valuable service during the war years. He number indicates that he was not part of the militia who volunteered to go overseas and it would appear that due to his experience on the land he was employed in that capacity. His unit on discharge was 2 Farm Coy. Based on this is it likely that Wilson would have received the Defence Medal, the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939-1945. It is his Defence Medal that has been sent to me.
The search for Wilson's family was a little difficult, but through the fantastic assistance of the Australian Surname Group, a Wilson family tree was found on the Internet. This led Bill to look at Wilson's siblings, one of which was Albert Wilson who died as a POW in Borneo. Bill eventually tracked down a niece. He was known as 'Ted' to the family and I'll send his Defence Medal to her in the very near future.
The medal returned tally is now 563.

For those who take an interest in different naming styles and variations you can see that the 'E' is lightly struck in comparrison to the rest of the letters.

24 November 2009

John McAllister Vincent

In earlier posts I have told the story of some of the more unusual items that we are asked to research and find the family. This particular story is of a memorial plaque erected in honour of a Australian soldier from WWII but later removed. Thanks to the dedication of a small group of people the memory of this soldier will live on.
This is Bill's story so I'll let him tell it:
'His service number VX659, and his date of enlistment the 4th September 1939, the day after the then Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Robert Menzies announced that Australia was now at war with Germany, and John's choice of Service the Medical Corps, the 2/1 Field Ambulance in particular. Tragically John was Killed in Action at Canea, Crete in 1941, and like so many of the young men who fell during the battle John has no known grave. Other than his place in the Australian War Memorial Honour Roll, his only remembrance is his commemoration is on the Wall of Honour at the Athens Memorial, Phaleron Cemetery, Athens, Greece.
But such a memorial was in the future, and too far away for the office staff at Melbourne University, who subscribed to pay for a plaque in his memory. If you consider the size of the office staff at the time, to have lost such a young member must have had a devastating effect upon those remaining.
The plaque was I believe erected in the 1940's, unfortunately with the passage of time, and the retirement of staff, much of the original history has been lost.
But as the Administration offices were rebuilt and later expanded, the plaque was moved, surviving each rebuilding, until 5-6 years ago, when the Raymond Priestly building where the plaque had last resided, was renovated, and a decision was made at the time that it (the plaque) did not fit in with the 'modern pristine white/green foyer'.
At this time fortunately one member of the staff with the help of several building maintenance staff 'rescued' the plaque, it being his intent to trace its history, and if possible contact John's family and perhaps more importantly have the plaque remounted.
For some time now the plaque has as its carer has moved also moved, occupying the space under different desks, as he researched the history of the plaque, unfortunately at the time he was unable to locate the family. It was only just recently with 11th November on the horizon that he again started to search. It was then that he found out the source of his major stumbling block, on the plaque John's name was given as John MacAllister Vincent, but there was no record of such a person having served. It was only with the advent of the new online search program that allows for variations in spelling of names, that he discovered that the Army had recorded John's name as John McAllister Vincent.
It was at this time that he posted of to various friends the story of the search and his problems, one recipient of the email, a member of the Watsonia RSL club, and who himself had retired from the University 5 years ago, contacted me with a request for help, and the rest is as they say history.
To say John's family is happy is an understatement, they always knew of the plaque, but where it had disappeared to, that was the great unknown.
Now the final stage is yet to be set, and the plaque, that friends and colleagues contributed to honour the memory of a brave young man, awaits the final act.'
Well done Bill.

14 November 2009

WWI RAN medal

The majority of medals I deal with are those awarded to WWI AIF soldiers. Every now and then something extraordinary comes my way. This week I received the 1914-15 Star awarded to ON2725 ORD SEA Sydney George Burley. The service record details are a lot less than what is available for a soldier but there was enough detail to work out movements around Australia. The next lead I followed was to Burley's son also named Sydney George Burley who served during WWII. Then the trail ran cold.
It was time for the experts to step in and Bill and the Yuki ladies put it all together. From initial contact by the person who donated the medal to me until we contacted the family was two weeks (thank you ladies). The story of Sydney and his medals is full of gaps. It was found in the possession of a chap who died last year, why he had it or how he came by it is anyone's guess. How it left the Burley family is also a mystery. None of that really matters now as I'll be returning the medal to Burley's great grandson who is a serving member of the Australian Army so I know it will be in very good hands.
The medal returned tally is now 562.

25 October 2009

Zaltzman - A follow up

The story of the return of two WWII medals to the family of Joseph Zaltzman was posted here on 30 September. As I corresponded with the family they kindly provided me with a couple of photos of Joseph, one of which I posted. I felt a special link by seeing what Joseph looked like.
After our email contact, I sent Joseph's medals to his nephew in Israel and they have arrived safely. I received a great email today that talks about the reaction of the family and I thought I would share just a small part of it to show what receiving these medals back means to the family:

"I told it to my Mom, ...., she is lighting candles once a week for each of the family who passed away, on Monday the day the medals arrived she lighted a candle to his memory, Joseph left Israel at 1937, she was 9 at that time, they were very close at that time, the second time she saw him was around 1960, 23 years after that – she was 32, a big gap to abridge."

09 October 2009

VX57411 John Driver

I often receive one medal from a group, in this case the 1939-45 Star awarded to VX57411 John Driver. A single medal and the condition it is in often makes me wonder where the others are and what it has been through. In this case I now know Driver's medals were stolen in 1980, where it has been since then and where the rest of the group are is a mystery.
The returned medal tally is now 561.

03 October 2009

WWI Trio

The WWI trio awarded to 3533 PTE James Henry Douglas Wigginton came to me from an unusual source. They were found in a military barracks in Tasmania, they have been court mounted for display in recent years. The concerned Army officer who found them had no idea where they came from so contacted me. Wigginton came from Sydney, however, there is a letter on his service record from a Millie Wigginton, dated 1950, saying that she has moved to Tasmania for health reasons. She also write that James was killed in a work place accident at the Commonwealth Bank in Martin Place Sydney. Millie says that all she has is his medals and this explains how they came to be in Tasmania.
Wigginton had a hard time during his service. As can be seen in his service record he spent a lot of time in hospital for appendicitis, septic foot, shell shock and VD. He was also court martialed for being AWOL and sentenced to 6 months detention.
Medals returned tally is now 560.

A very small research world

I've had the WWII medals and dog tags belonging to NX109001 Peter O'Halloran for several years. They were sent to my after being found in a WA tip. Bill has been chipping away and a post on our favorite family research web site drew an almost immediate reply from a member who knows the family. I'm sure there is more to this story and I'll post it when I have all the details.
Medal returned tally is now 557.

30 September 2009

Another international return

51892 Joseph Zaltzman was one of those Australian servicemen who is not from the typical Anglo-Saxon background but none the less answered the call to serve. Born in Petricov, Russia, he moved to Australia and served in the RAAF. His family settled in Israel, however, Joseph became a nationalised Australian. He died in 1970 in Sydney.
We ran in to many dead ends while searching for his family and as it turned out a misspelling of his surname when he died did not help us.
Today I received a fantastic email from one of Joseph's relatives who lives in Tel Aviv. They had come across Joseph's name on our website.
The medals have had a bit of a hard life and as can be seen in the pictures the suspenders have been broken off.
The last photo has been provided to me by the family. The man in the suit is Joseph, the picture was taken overlooking the Bay of Haifa and taken around 1960-61 when Joseph visted his family in Israel.
The returned medal tally is now 554.

Norris update

Recently we returned a WWI trio awarded to 1028 Lance Sergeant William Norris. The family have very kindly provided some photos that make this story come to life. The following is the contents of an email I received:
'I thought the attached pictures of the field hospital at Rennes in 1917, presumably taken with Father's camera, might be of interest. My father is the one with his arm in a sling (because of the shrapnel damage). The snaps were sent to my mother by one of the nurses in the picture. She remembered how he helped more seriously wounded patients.'
Thank you Barbara.

26 September 2009


This pair of WWI medals was awarded to 3678 CPL Arthur Frederick Atkins who was Prisoner of War after being listed as missing in action in April 1917. He was eventually repatriated in December 1918. As you can see by the pictures the ribbons have deteriorated considerably.
Medal returned tally is now 552.

17 September 2009

A punt that paid off

I recently received the WWII War Medal awarded to NX135212 Joseph William Browning. It was sent to me from a contact in Australia Post who forwards me medals that come loose in the mail. All I could find out about Browning is that he was from Lismore, NSW.
I've previously had considerable luck locating people in this region by placing a letter to the editor in the Northern Star paper. So I took a punt and wrote to them again and sure enough they published my letter in this mornings edition and tonight I received emails from two of his daughters. I'll return the medal to the family very soon. In the picture you will see a 'D' after Browning's name, this indicates the medal is an officially issued duplicate.
The medal tally is now 550.

16 September 2009

WWI Trio

The WWI trio awarded to 1028 Lance Sergeant William Richard Norris come with a very interesting story. When I first accessed his service record I came across a very unusual entry. Norris was court martialed for possessing a camera and taking photos. Today every soldier has a camera on them and they take photos of everything. To read about this particular is a real reflection of the times. Norris was also wounded in action and I'm told by his daughter that he carried shrapnel in his shoulder all his life.
His medals are in near mint condition having never been worn and still have the original ribbon.
This brings the medal returned tally to 549.

13 September 2009

General Service Medal - Royal Signals

I usually only post the story of a medal after we have located the veteran or family. In this case I thought I would list a medal with pictures in the hope that I might get a hit if someone does an Internet search for him.
This search is for 24018769 SIG L.H. Jefferies Royal Signals. His GSM, with Malay Peninsula clasp, was found in a house in Canberra. It is believed that someone by the name of Jefferies lived in that house, but not recently.
I've had no luck with any enquiries back to the Royal Signals Association nor through some other contacts I have. I have one option which I'll try next week but in the mean time here are some pictures of Jefferies' GSM.

12 September 2009

Where do the medals come from?

I'm often asked where I get all the medals from. In the welcome post and on our website I mentioned that I started out by buying medals but now all are donated to me. Those donations come from Government agencies, members of the public, ex-service organisations or police services. Those that come from police services have either been handed in after having been found or are recovered from a theft. I'm always happy to accept these donations and do the research to locate the family.
This WWI Victory Medal is one example of a medal being forward to me by the Victorian Police, with who I have a fantastic relationship. The soldier, 3215 LCPL Richard William Newport was from WA and enlisted in 28th Bn. He saw active service in France. Following discharge he moved to Victoria and he obviously lost his medal while living there. However, the search for his family lead Bill back to WA where we located Newport's nephew.
The returned medal tally now stands at 546.

QX59310 Hal Stephen Byrne

One of the links on the right hand side of this blog is to the Australian Surname Genealogy Group. These wonderful researchers have been very helpful and kind to us as we look in tot eh back ground of Australian servicemen as we try to locate their families. This particular case is yet another example of the great assistance provided by the 'Yuku Ladies' as Bill calls them.
This WWII War Medal awarded to QX59310 Hal Stephen Byrne is now on its way back to the family and is the 545 medal returned by Lost Medals Australia.

03 September 2009

LT Maffra William MacVean

In a previous post I described how I often get requests to research military items other than medals. I have recently been sent a silver cigarette case inscribed with the name LIEUT MACVANE. Maffra Willaim Bushby MacVean was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 for actions in the Pozieres area. He survived the war.
While MacVean married he didn't have any children. However, we managed to track his family through another military connection. His nephew was Admiral Gordon John Brantone Crabb who was awarded the DSC during WWII.

20 August 2009

A very difficult search

This search has proved to be very difficult. VX149934 William Offer served with 12th Small Ships Company which is a rather well known Australian Army unit from WWII. Unfortunately, the trail for a family member went cold with William having had no children. Bill did some fantastic research to work his way through the family of William's sister and find the closest relative that we could.

Medals returned tally is now 543.

19 August 2009

A great book for kids

In the Military Related Links on the right hand side of this page is a link to Your Defence. This site is a fantastic resource for ADF families.
The ADF kids books is a great idea for helping to explain to the children of ADF service personnel what it is that their parents do in uniform. I think it will also go a long way to help the broader community understand what military life is all about.
Of particular delight to me is the Army edition which includes a picture of my medals. This entry explains what the slang word 'gongs' means.

18 August 2009

What has this medal been through?

This medal has had a very hard life. It is the WWII War Medal awarded to NX162773 Harold Francis Horton. As you can see from the pictures the suspender has broken away from the medal. Also the impressing on the edge is not very distinct. I suspect that at some point someone has tried to remove the naming. Finally the medal is very dirty particularly around the text on the obverse. Despite all this we have found the family and the medal will be returned very soon.

The medal returned tally is now 539.

13 August 2009

WWI DOW medal

2LT Gordon Minto Browne enlisted (no 517) on 21 November 1915 and was allocated to 42nd Bn. He was eventually commissioned and wounded very late in the war and died of his wounds on 2 October 1918 at Mont St Quentin, France. He is buried at Tincourt New British Cemetery (Plot V, Row J, Grave No. 3), France.
The medal has had a very hard life having lost its suspender. This is the 538 medal returned by Lost Medals Australia.

WWII group of 5

This group of five WWII medals awarded to QX11131 John James Mossison has been with me for a bit over three years. Bill did some great research to track down the family and the medals will be returned next week.
Medal returned tally is now 537.

09 August 2009

WA medal

This Africa Star to WX11265 John Goydon Curtis has been lost for some time and was only recently sent to me. Once again Bill's good work quickly located the family. The rest of the group are still missing but this one will head home soon.
The medal returned tally is now 532.

07 August 2009

3266 SGT Edward Snell

3266 SGT Edward Snell was born in Queensland but spent some time in WA before WWI. He followed the gold rush as he puts his trade down as a miner and he served in the Goldfields Regiment. When he enlisted his father lived in Marble Bar, WA and that is where Snell was buried in 1960. His medal was sent to me from Dampier, another town in the North West of WA. The medal has had a hard life with the suspender bent and several dents. However, it is on its way back to the family. I would like to make special mention of Jade who was able to find and check the missing records for accuracy. This ultimately assisted us locating the family.

The medal returned tally is now 531.

01 August 2009

3 Minutes

Today I received a medal in the mail that was not familiar to me. Just by looking at the medal it wasn't hard to work out it is a Vietnam War commemorative medal. That is a non-official medal. The details on the edge are: W.S. McLean 7158. Once I got home form the post office I looked up McLean on the Vietnam War nominal roll. He originally came from Kingaroy. There is one W Smith listed in the Whitepages so I took a punt and rang the number. Sure enough it is the same man. From the time I sat at the computer until the time I confirmed this was his medal took a total of 3 three minutes.

Medal returned tally 530.

19 July 2009

Gallipoli Died of Wounds

618 William Middlebrook was a member of 14th Bn, he arrived at Gallipoli in May 1915. He received a gunshot wound on 27 May and was evacuated to a hospital ship. He died of wounds on 29 May 1915 and was buried at sea. His medal entitlement was the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal were sent to his brother Thomas. At some point they have been lost and were recently handed in to the Victorian Police who sent them to me.

The medal returned tally is now 529.

18 July 2009

Who is online?

For the last month I have had a new online map for this blog. It shows where someone has viewed from in the previous 24 hours and who is online at the moment with a flashing green symbol. I find it very interesting to see where people are viewing from, especially when I'm on line at the same time.
Thank you for visiting this blog and this link will show you as being online.

15 July 2009

This return is to the niece of NX 24326 R.T. Madden. Bill has been very frustrated with this search but some fantastic help from the Australian Surnames Group. I would like to quote Bill here:
'So when you put up the Blog can you mention the ladies of YUKKI and the lovely Sharon, and Charlee who provided the break through, in particular Sharon when she suggested that I discard the 'death notice' I had for a Mary Jane MARTIN and go back to the beginning. Which is what I did and now 7 months later. Were there..'.

The tally of medals returned is now 527.

13 July 2009

Duplicate set and going home

This set came to us from the Queensland Police Service. These are an officially issued duplicate set and marked with a 'D', awarded to VX12431 John Lewis Brown. The medal returned tally is now 522.