31 December 2010

The end of 2010

Bill sent me a wonderful email this morning reminding me of what a successful year that we have had. In 2010 Lost Medals Australia has returned 263 medals.
This result has been achieved through hard work, serious research and a bit of luck. Thank you to all those who have provided assistance to me, particularly Scott, the Yuku team, the RSL, members of the British Medals Forum and all the individuals who chip away looking for leads so that medals can be returned. Thanks also must go to Anna and Vicki for letting us spend so much time researching.
Most of all I need to single out Bill for his untiring efforts.
Happy New Year.

Mather and Burkitt

In continuing with our relationship with the RSL State Branches and Sub Branches this is a story that Bill recently sent to me. The medals to
'There are a great deal of similarities in our searches, similarities that never arise until the search is over, such was the case in the search for the next of kin of Robert MATHER and Harold BURKITT, where both sets of medals came from a Bayside RSL, after being handed in by the widow of a past member. The story being that her husband had bought the medals while they were on holidays 10 or so years ago, with the intent of returning them, but had never been able to.
It is sufficient to say at this time the medals have been returned, however what is amazing is the similarities between both searches.
Both sets were bought from the same shop, in the Western Districts of Victoria, the shop owners professing at the time to know nothing about the original recipients nor the person who had sold them the medals.
Both sets of medal went back to respective sons, both of whom told the same story, that it was not until after the passing of their mothers that the issue of "where's Dad's medals" arose, a question that was in part answered by the searches; searches that crossed over a retirement village. But that in reality a question that was never fully answered either to their satisfaction or I must admit mine.
Today both sets are back with their families, Robert's three and Harold's four, in the case of Harold's after a family discussion they now reside with his eldest son and his medals, but most importantly both families now know where they are and how tenuous the link between having medal in a family and then finding they have 'disappeared can be.'
Bill's dedicated work now takes the returned medal tally to 833.

24 December 2010

Jack Tucker

VX137241 Jack Tucker was a private who finished the war serving with the 32nd AUSTRALIAN CAMP HOSPITAL. Bill has located Jack's nephew who we will return three medals to.
The returned medal tally is now 826 and these were from the NSW RSL box.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.

Gordon Gibson

NX78704 Gordon William Gibson proved a little elusive to find and in the end we were a little late in being able to return the medal to Gordon. Sadly, he died in October this year. Gordon's ASM will be returned to his daughter.
The returned medal tally is now 823 and this medal is from the NSW RSL box.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.

Alfred Williscroft

The story of NX169917 Alfred Archibald Williscroft ended a bit more unexpectedly that we anticipated. Alfred was an infantry soldier who survived three years of war. On his return to Australia... well this is what Bill told me:
'This is one of those stories, you find hard to believe, and yet as we both know are all to often true. The story from the family is that Alf had boarded his ship to come home, it was while another soldier was cleaning his rifle, a shot was accidentally discharged, the round striking Alf, seriously wounding him, he died several days later from complications.'
Once again the Yuku team helped us out, thank you.
The returned medal tally is now 822 and these are from the NSW RSL box.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.

21 December 2010

William Aitken

NX43240 William Robert Aitken was a signaller, which both Bill and Scott will be pleased about and ended the war as a WOII with 19 LINE OF COMMAND SIGNALS.
We now know William never maried, however, one of his sisters in law is still alive and a very active 92.
Once again Sue and the Yuku team provided all the clues and then the final link to William's family.
The returned medal tally is now 821 and these medals are from the NSW RSL box.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.

Bob Peck

Some of the searches we do are a story in their own right and are worth telling. The subject of this search is the Australian Service Medal awarded to NX120899 Robert Gardner Peck.
One of the resources we use to find someone is the Ryerson Index. While this is not a complete list it does provide some great hints. What Bill found was a reference to the wake of Bob's wife, Heather. Bill rung the hotel hoping to get a further clue that would lead to the family. You can imaging his surprise when the hotel manager said that he not only remembered that particular night but that Bob was still alive and a regular at the hotel.
Bill left a message and sure enough Bob, now 91, rung. It took a little for Bob to work out what medal was missing but it was finally discovered that the ASM in his group was not engraved and from the description is a copy.
At some point the original has been lost and eventually found its way to the RSL and then us.
The medal returned tally is now 818.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.

10 December 2010

Willy Stein

The search for N5287 William James Miller Stein led me down a path which I did not expect.
The NSW RSL was recently contacted by a gent whose daughter had three WWII medals and wanted them returned to the family. Given my current location I thought it might be difficult to conduct the research.
Once the medals arrived at home and I had all the details I thought that I would see if anything obvious jumped out. The only real clue from the WWII nominal roll was that Stein originally came from Grenfell in NSW. Having been through Grenfell when posted to Kapooka I knew it to be a smallish town so there might still be family members there. From the NSW BDM I established that Stein married Lora in 1944 and from the Ryerson index that he died in Sydney in 2008. However, Ryerson showed that a death notice was published in the Grenfell paper so it was back to Grenfell. The White Pages didn't reveal anything conclusive but I got a hit on a blog which told the history of a farm near Grenfell that had once been owned by the Stein family. This is the link to the Ochre Archives entry that I came across.
I was very impressed with the amount of Grenfell local history information on Phillip's blog so I dropped him a line to see if he knew of the Stein family.
Knowing that contacting people in Australia would be difficult for me, Phillip very kindly offered to make some calls for me. In very short order Phillip located Val who is one of Stein's sisters and I now know he was called Willy. Val put Phillip on to another sister, June Potbury, who in turn provided the contact details of Willy and Lora's son Allen.
When I RTA and able to send these medals back to Allen the returned medal tally will be 817.

I am very grateful to the assistance that Phillip provided me. He has told me a story about how small a world this is. Phillip knows June from another encounter, Phillip told me: "One very curious twist from the above research … June Potbury is the woman that I and another bloke extracted from a car accident a couple of years ago." Here is the link to Phillip's selfless action.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.

08 December 2010

Leslie John Mannix

Leslie John Mannix enlisted on two occasions during WWI. Once again the Australian Surname Group provided the leads that Bill followed to resolve this search and here is the story.
'Leslie John MANNIX had an eventful Service life, sent home from France and discharged because of Chronic Trench Foot, he would later re-enlist in the Home Defence Guard.
He was one of four brothers who served during WW1, it would have been five brothers except that an older brother Arthur Byron MANNIX, blew the whistle on their youngest brother John Robert Septimus MANNIX, for enlisting while under age. The Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday 9th May 1916 actually published a set of photos of the four brothers. Leslie's grand daughter Lynette, who has accepted guardianship of Leslie's British War Medal, still remembers the stories her mother, Leslie's daughter Mavis who was 12 when her father died, would tell her of her grandfather and his difficulty in trying to walk. Leslie MANNIX was 36 when he died of complications due to his war service. '
The returned medal tally is now 814. These medals are from the NSW RSL box.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.
This medal has had a very hard life.

Assistance to the Victorian RSL

This story is of the return of six WWII medals to VX8801 Victor Ernest Preston. The Australian Surname Group provided some fantastic background information which Bill used to track down the family. This is the story from Bill:
'Victor's meals were were found in a School Trash and Treasure, sale some years ago, last night I had the distinct pleasure of introducing John who bought the medals, to Kenneth, Victor's nephew the son of Victor's sister Phyllis. Prior to that at Victor's death from Parkinson's disease in 1987, his nephew Kenneth, who also holds his fathers medals had always wondered what happened to his Uncle Victor's medals?
So when Victor Ernest Preston's nephew Ken receives his Uncle's medals, medals that have been lost to the family for over 20 years, he will receive the medals of one of the 'originals' of WW2, as his Service No. of VX8801 attests, having enlisted on the 23 November 1939. He was also a proud 'Rat' surviving the siege of Tobruk. Later returning to Australia before fighting in the Islands to our North. I said earlier that Victor's medals show a 'hard life', I was mistaken, they are as impressive as when first mounted.'
The returned medal tally is now 813. This search was referred to us by the Victorian RSL.

03 December 2010

John Reuben Owen

If anything makes the returning of medals unique it is not so much there return, but the manner in which they were found. In the case of the medals of Stoker John Reuben Owen, the medals stolen during a burglary were found on top of a rubbish tin by Council workers several years ago. After many attempts to locate the owner or his family, the medals were passed into the care of Merv Hampson the President of the Mortlake Sub-Branch of the RSL. Merv's wife Vera, knowing of our work on behalf of the RSL, contacted Bill and asked for help.
Finally after many dead ends and red herrings we were successful in returning John's medals to his son, Trevor. Trevor informed us that the family have been looking for the medals ever since they were stolen 21 years ago.
The returned medal tally is 807.

02 December 2010

Jack McWhinnie

NX192799 Jack Ronald McWhinnie served as an infantry soldier with the 2/24th Bn, 2nd AIF during WWII. Three of the medals he was awarded will be returned to his wife.
The returned medal tally is now 803 and these medals are from the NSW RSL box.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.

5088 John James Isaac Page - number 800

The search for 5088 John James Isaac Page really started with the search for his brother, Edward. I think it best that the story be told in Bill own words on the Australian Surname Group:
'The search for next of kin for Edward PAGE ended this evening when I spoke to his great-great niece Kay. I know that following Edward's family has not been easy for those of you who have provided the information that I have been tracking down. It seems to be a characteristic of some family lines that they just peter out. In many ways this is what has happened to the PAGE family.
Normally our searches start with the medal, and nothing else, but here it was slightly different, all the medals and the Commemorative Plaque went to a brother (Edward) of the deceased. So I though it would be easier for the Forum to follow through on one person, who we knew to be married, and who I expected would have started a family line. Oh was I mistaken.
So whose medal did I have?
The 1914-1915 Star of John Joseph Isaac PAGE, who was KIA on the 12th October 1917, the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele, however like many of those lost, he would not be declared dead until the 16 May 1918. His brother would receive John's medals and Plaque on the 19th March 1923. Why the delay, well in part because of the chaos of the battle, where many of the dead were never recovered, and whose names adorn the Menin Gate Wall, and partly because nominated both his brother Edward, and his sister Frances as his next of kin, leaving his assets to both.'
This return is a real milestone for Lost Medals Australia as it is the 800th medal we have returned.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.

John James Bowers

VX133914 John James Bowers was a Sapper with the Engineers during WWII. How this medal went missing is a mystery but I'm pleased to say that we will be returning it to John in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now 799 and this medal is from the NSW box.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.

Charles Thomas Richards

This search is very satisfying as the person we will return this medal to is a WWI veteran's daughter.
2478 Charles Thomas Richards served in 57th BN AIF. He was wounded in France, suffering gun shot wounds to both legs. The family have advised us that they can not remember when they last saw any of Charles' medals and we suspect they all disappeared when he died in 1969.
The returned medal tally is now 798. This medal is from the NSW box.

Update on 8 May 11 - photos added.