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.

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