27 February 2012

John Schmitzer - 1939-45 Star

This WWII 1939-45 Star was awarded to NX122770 John Schmitzer and he was known as Jack. From the electoral rolls I knew he was from a large family who lived in the Taree area. Lucky, Jack was mentioned in an Ancestry family tree and the tree owner was able to put me in touch with Jack's nephew
Thank you to Anne who helped me with this search and to Liz J who sent me the medal in the first place.
The returned medal tally is now 1080.

26 February 2012

Website Update

Today, Scott updated our website. By clicking on the Site Update button on the left side of the page, below the hit counter, you will see what is new.

25 February 2012

Robert Adams - British War Medal

This post was updated on 12 May 15. Please scroll to the bottom.
This particular search has been typical of many that we do. We often get a lot of information initially that seems to be leading us to an easy result. However, as is often the case, we end up getting to a point where all the information seems to dry up. 
I received the BWM awarded to Lieutenant Robert John Adams in Feb 09 and there is a fair amount of information about him and his early life in Tasmania. All the leads I had dried up in about in the mid 1920s. Tim has had a fresh look at this case and has had a wonderful bit of success. Here is what Tim has put together.

Robert John Adams emigrated from the Ditton, Lancashire with his wife Leah to Tasmania prior to WW1. They appear to have separated in Hobart around the start of the war, with three children (Robert, Leah and Trixie), being left in the care of a Mrs Fitzpatrick. Robert was a Boer War veteran and former British Army RAMC regular serving 4 years with the colours and 8 in the reserve. 
Robert somehow made it to Townsville and enlisted there in March 1915, initially serving with the 4th Light Horse Brigade Field Ambulance, being transferred to the 15th Field Ambulance in March 1916 in Egypt. He then served in France/Flanders being commissioned to LT from LCPL at the end of the war. His service papers and an allotment file explain the situation with his children and wife.
When he got home to Tasmania after the war Robert and Leah divorced (Hobart Mercury article July 1924). He subsequently married a lady named Revie and they had children named Jan, Roberta, Robin, Jill and Simon. He served on as a CPL in WW2, reducing his age by 8 years. Robert appears to have copped a few mentions in the paper over the years, including one in which Revie was injured in a traffic accident.
Robert died on 21 November 1953 and this time was living at Windsor St, Kingston Beach, Hobart. In the notice of death in the Hobart Mercury his family members were listed, including his daughter Leah who was by then married with the surname Uhr-Henry. 

This is the information that Tim used to track down Leah's son David who is now living in Victoria. The medal was sent to me by the Directorate of Honours and Awards after it was initially handed in by Adrian N of Hornsby.
 The returned medal tally is now 1079.

Post update 12 May 15.
Yesterday I received a very unexpected email from Marg Powell of the John Oxley Library. As part of her research in to the library's collecting she came across this story about Robert Adam. In the collection is a picture of Robert taken in Cairo. How amazing that this picture is connected to this story. I've provided Marg with the family's contact details so that they can also see this photo. The library's WWI blog is at this address.
Thank you to the John Oxley Library for kind permission to reproduce this picture.
W. O. J. Kielly Papers, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

24 February 2012

Matthew Abbott - British War Medal

I received this British War Medal in 2007 from the Queensland RSL after it was handed in. It was awarded to 6519 PTE Matthew Abbott who served in the 25th Battalion, AIF.  Matthew's next of kin were his parents Matthew Snr and Harriet Louisa Abbott of Gympie Road, Kedron. Matthew had two brothers named Arthur and 3755 Lance Corporal Frank Abbott, also of the 25th Battalion. Frank was killed in action at Zonnenbeke, Belgium, on 31 October 1917. Matthew senior passed away in 1939. We also know that Matthew had no children of his own as he never married.
Arthur Abbott married Sarah Bowley who was known in the family as Myrtle. Myrtle had a nephew named Gordon whose mother died when he was young and he was raised by Arthur and Myrtle.
Gordon's father, Cyril served with the 26th Battalion in WW1 and there is a photo of him in the Queenslander from June 1915 (reproduced here).

BOWLEY, Cyril Claude

Picture Service no 280
26th Battalion
Born Brisbane, Qld
Enlisted 15 April 1915 at Brisbane, Qld.
Occupation prior to enlistment Grocer
Returned to Australia 23 April 1919 per 'Kashmir'

The Queenslander
Sat. 26 June 1915

Tim has done some great research on the back of the initial work done by Bill to finalise this search. The medal will be returned to Gordon's daughter who is Arthur and Myrtle's grand niece.
The medal returned tally is now 1078.

GNR R.H. Wilcockson - British War Medal

This is the story of a British War Medal that has travelled a very long way only to end up being a few kilometres from its final destination.
This BWM was awarded to 46246 Gunner Robert Henry Wilcockson. Initially, Robert enlisted in to the Royal Artillery, later in the war he transferred to the Royal Engineers and in 1919 he was serving with the Green Howards. Luckily, I was able to piece together his service history as his British Army pension records is available online via Ancestry. This document also gave me information about where Robert was from and his wife's name.
Using other bits of information I found online I was able to piece together a family tree for Robert and his wife Henrietta. The key piece of information was that one of their sons was named Joseph Howard Wilcockson. This information led me to find a family tree on Ancestry that showed Robert, Henrietta, Joseph and two other children. I sent the tree owner a message and within six hours I had a response.
Robert and Henrietta's son Joseph also had a son Joseph. The tree owner is Joseph juniors son named Mark. This makes Mark the great grand son of Robert. The information I was able to piece together was that the family originated in Lancashire, UK, and that they didn't venture too far.
Part two of this story is how the medal got to me. In 2007 an acquaintance of mine, Paddy D, in Townsville who manages the 4th Field Regiment historical collection asked me to research this BWM. It had been sent to him from his family in New Zealand who had found the medal amongst the belongings of a relative who had recently died. How the medal got to Auckland is a mystery.
In my message to Mark I told him all this and based on what I could see I thought I would be sending the medal back to England. In his response Mark told me that the family had stayed in North Lancashire except for him. Much to my surprise Mark now lives in Canberra and only about 10km from where I live. I have arranged to meet him next week and hand him the medal. I am quite amazed that this medal has travelled so far and now it turns out to be so close to a direct descendent of Robert Wilcockson.
The returned medal tally is now 1077.

21 February 2012

Imperial Service Medal - James Gibson

The Imperial Service Medal is not one that usually comes my way so it is nice to have something out of the ordinary to do some research on. This particular medal was awarded to James Sydney Gibson for his service as a Signalman with the NSW Tramways. The only information about the award being made to James that I could find was in the London Gazette and on the itsanhonour web page.
I've recently tracked down James' grandson and I'll return the medal to him in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now 1076.

18 February 2012

WWI British War Medal to Wilfred Robinson

This story is has many elements of luck about it. The BWM awarded to 3415 PTE Wilfred Gerald Robinson was given to me by a friend of mine who was in my Staff Collage class. When I received the medal last August I found a lot of information about this soldier which included his WW2 service, the names of his sons, that he died in 1970 and where he was buried. All clues ran out with the death of his wife in 1985.
Yesterday, I decided to have another look at this medal and stumbled across a family tree on Ancestry which had Wilfred listed. The tree hadn't been accessed for seven months so I was relying on a bit of luck again. Within an hour of sending a message to the owner I had an email response and a request to ring her.
As it turns out the lady why published the tree had done so for her sister in law who is the carer of Wildfred's son Eddie. Eddie is a WWII veteran himself and not in good health so all these pieces of luck have come together at a great time so that Eddie will get his father's medal back.
Thank you to Angie C for sending me the medal and also to Bunny and Carol for their interest in Eddie and his story.
The returned medal tally is now 1075.

09 February 2012

Female WWII War Medal

Over the years we have had only a small number of medals awarded to females come to us. This war medal was awarded to WF57093 Bertha Florence Corkery who was originally from WA before marrying and moving to Boorowa NSW.
Boorowa is a smallish country town but there was a large Corkery family there. Ancestry provided most of the clues to track Bertha and several family trees for this family have been published. I sent a message to the tree owners and today I was contacted by Bertha's grand daughter, Jess. I was rather pleased with this bit of research as I only received the medal yesterday. Even more pleasing was to find out that Jess lives in the next suburb from me and she came straight over to collect the medal.
Along with the picture of Bertha's medal is a copy of the news paper photo from her wedding.
Well done to LTCOL Mick C who sent the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1074.

07 February 2012

Late issue WWII medals

These two medals come with a very interesting story. The 1939-45 Star and Australian Service Medal pictured below were awarded to H2896 David James Harold Hicks.
When they arrived in the mail I was very surprised to see that the box was a modern issue from the Directorate of Honours and Awards and not of 1950 vintage. Then I looked at the naming and saw is was laser engraved. I know that this method of engraving started after 1992 so the medals were issued after that year.
One of the reference books I use is Australians Awarded by Clive Johnson. In this book Clive provides excellent information about naming styles and different variants of the same medal. As it turns out the ASM has three types. The first type was issued from 1952, when stocks of this type ran out a type 2 was produced and eventually a type 3. There a subtle difference between the three types but when you know what to look for it is easy to work out which type it is.
The ASM to Hicks was the first type so I suspected that it was issued in the mid to late 1990s. There is no duplicate marking so it is an initial issue. What is also unusual, which can be seen in the pictures, is that the medal is named in the following sequence: Initials, Name then Number which is different from earlier times when the Number is first.
While searching for Hicks I ran in to the usual brick walls. Even though his service record was available on line it gave little information, except for one very important clue, his wife's name is Pauline. Based on this I spent a few hours using Ancestry to track the family. Unfortunately, there was only one electoral roll entry for David in 1954 and nothing for Pauline.
The next clue I got was a suburban war memorial entry which provided David's date of death in 1995 and then the trail went very cold. It was time to take a few punts. The Tasmanian birth, death and marriage indexes are not on line and cost a fee to access so that was out of the question. So, I looked for any burial information and came across a Hobart cemetery which listed David's burial. It also gave the suburb where he lived. A further search did not show that Pauline was buried in the same cemetery. I started to wonder if she might still be alive.
I took another punt and found a P Hicks listed in the White Pages who lived in the same suburb so I rang the number and sure enough I had found the family.
As it turns out, after David died his daughter noticed an anomaly with David's medals so she wrote to Honours and Awards. This was in the late 90s. The medals were then issued, however, I now know they were incorrectly addressed. They eventually came to me and thanks goes to Carole and Michael for wanting to see the medals go to the correct family.
The returned medal tally is now 1073.

04 February 2012

Victory Medal to WWI died of wounds

6290 William St Clair Orr served in the 9th Battalion AIF having enlisted on 10 Jan 16. He left Australia in September 1916 and got in to a bit of trouble on the voyage and was charged with AWOL on two occasions. His troop ship arrived in England in mid December and William joined his battalion in France on New Years Day 1917.
The war diary shows that in early January the battalion was required to provide working parties and the entry for 5 Jan 17 says:
'8 casualties in one of our working parties of "semi trained" reinforcements, 5 being killed and 3 wounded.'
One of these was William who received gunshot wounds to his abdomen, legs and right hand. William died of his wounds later that day at the 3rd Field Ambulance.
William's came from a large family that was centred on Grafton NSW. His medal was sent to me by Liz J from northern NSW so the medal became lost up that way somehow. While there are still branches of the family around Grafton I was able to trace William's eldest brother's family to Sydney. William's Victory Medal will be returned to his great nephew.
The returned medal tally is now 1071.

01 February 2012

WWII Australian Service Medal 1939-45

The parcel that was sent to me that contained the Robson medals also had a single 1939-45 ASM awarded to NX115779 Brian Thomas Birrell. I took about an hour to trace the family through the Electoral Rolls and the Ryerson Index and I have just spoken to Brian's wife.
How the medal was first lost and then put with the Robson medals is anyone's guess. Mrs Birrell tells me that she has been looking for this medal for years as she has the rest of Brian's group. Not only is the medal being returned to the family it is being reunited with the others awarded to this soldier.
The medal returned tally is now 1070.

WWII medal group of four

The WWII medals awarded to NX114199 Matthew Robson have had an eventful life.
Matthew was originally from Wollongong. After the war he worked as a plumber and eventually settled in the Blue Mountains. After Matthew died, over 30 years ago, his possessions were collected up and consigned to the rubbish. On the way to the tip a bag of clothes fell off a trailer and were picked up by Cheryl who was following behind. Cheryl found the medals in the clothes and held on to them until forwarding them to me this year.
I was able to track down the names of Matthew's siblings and located a family tree on Ancestry. The tree owner knew little about Matthew but was able to provide the name of his son, Colin. All I could find on Colin Robson was that he died in 2006 and his death notice was published in the Armidale Express. I then sent a letter to the editor of this paper which was published on 1 Feb 12.
Today I have received information which has put me in touch with Colin's son, which of course is Matthew's grand son.
The medal returned tally is now 1069.

WWII War Medal

This WWII War Medal was awarded to 161760 John Albert Reynolds. Bill has recently located John's son and the medal will be returned to him in the near future.
The medal came to us from the NSW RSL and the returned medal tally is now 1065.

WWII Merchant Navy medal

The search for the family of James Edwin Morrison was a difficult one. I received his medal in 2008 and didn't get very far. The only information I had was the WWII nominal roll entry as Merchant Navy records are not readily available.
Morris took this one on and ended up purchasing James' death certificate. This gave us the names of James' son and from there it was a rather easy search. James' grandson has posted a family tree on Ancestry so I contacted him through that. The key was James' son's name, so thank you Morris.
Thank you also to Geoff of Eatons Hill who sent me the medal originally.
The medal retuned tally is now 1064.