24 February 2012

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.

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