31 March 2012

Hamilton - ASM 1939-45

I've mentioned in the past the wonderful relationship I have with the Directorate of Honours and Awards. This particular search was a referral from Tony at Honours and Awards.
The medal they have asked me to look at is the Australian Service Medal 1939-45 awarded to NX52651 James Gibb Hamilton.
The search started easy enough but as I looked at the electoral rolls on Ancestry, I found a number of people with the same unusual name living in different states at the same time. There were a couple of death notices on Trove and in the Sydney Morning Herald that relate to this family and initially it was very confusing. However, I found a phone number in the white pages with the right initial and name combination so I took a punt and gave the number a call. I ended up speaking to the cousin of James who was able to direct me towards another cousin (James' brother). During this first conversation I was able to assist the gentleman by providing him a copy of his father's British Army medal card from WWI.
As part of my research I found out that James' father had received the Military Medal during WWI. He was 5114 Archibald Hamilton and served in the 2nd Battalion, AIF. His service record is 108 pages long and makes very interesting reading as Archie was classified as a deserter after the war concluded when he returned to his birth place in Scotland to see his family. This was eventually resolved and his medal entitlement was reinstated.
This is the family connections I worked out to find James' brother Ferguson:
- James Gibb Hamilton (1) and Agnes Campbell Hamilton had six children including; Archibald Ferguson (1), James Gibb (2) and Ferguson (1).
- Archibald (1) also had a number of children including; James Gibb(3), Ferguson (2) and Archibald (2).
- Ferguson (1) had two sons; James Gibb (4) who served as VX69392 and Ferguson (3).
It is James Gibb(3) who I was looking for. James Gibb(3) married but had no children. He died in the 70s. His brother Ferguson (2) is still alive and I'll be returning the medal to him.
The death notices that helped me unravel this are at these links:
Agnes Campbell Hamilton
Archibald Hamilton
I hope the links work and it is a bit of a search on the page to find each notice. I must admit I did a double take when I came across Archie's service record as this is the name of the main character played my Mark Lee in the film Gallipoli.
The medal should arrive in the post next week and then I'll add a photo. Thanks to John and Andrew from the RAN who forwarded this medal to Honours and Awards in the first place. The medal returned tally is now 1106.
Post update 2 April 2012
I've now added a photos of this medal.

30 March 2012

Wilfred Wilkinson WWII group of four

This is one of those searches I would like to have happen all the time.
The medals awarded to NX42733 Wilfred Lawrence Bruce Wilkinson were sent to me by the Dee Why RSL sub-branch. They arrived in the post on Wednesday afternoon and less than a minute after opening the envelop I was talking to Wilkinson's son in law. This morning I spoke to Wilkinson's daughter and arranging to send the medals to her.
The group consists of the 1939-45 Star, the Pacific Star, the 1939-45 War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45.
The returned medal tally is now 1105.

27 March 2012

SGT J McQuade WWI trio

This story is about the reuniting of a WWI medal with two others awarded to a British soldier. Bill did all the research and: 

'This story is for those of you who have seen the film Beneath Hill 60.
In this case it is the story of the search to return the 1914-15 Star of 79276, Sgt J McQuade, 178th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers. Our story starts long before it finished. It commenced in November 1915, with the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) to Sgt McQuade. The citation published in the London Gazette of 22 January 1916 reads:
'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in Tambour Du Clos during November 1915.
When the enemy had exploded a mine on the 5th November, it was due to
his personal courage and example that our buried miners were extricated,
the air being very foul and the gallery rendered most unsafe by the explosion.
On 28th November, when the enemy were believed to be within 10 feet of our galleries, he laid, tamped and exploded a charge which forestalled them.
On many other occasions he has rendered gallant service.'
The story then jumps, as many of our searches do, to modern times, 2008 to be exact, when Peter Harrison, a retired Australian Army officer and his wife Eileen were wandering through the village of Callander in Scotland. They saw in the window of “Lady Kentmore’s Antiques, Curios & Collectables”, Sgt McQuade's 1914-1915 Star.
As Peter, who in the past has helped me with research, said when he passed me the medal. "It looked lonely and I couldn't leave it".
So now I found myself the 'owner' of a medal and like any other owner wondering about Sgt McQuade and what made the medal so 'special' .
Perhaps it was because it was originally issued to 16938 Private J McQuade, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the regiment that he joined on enlistment before transferring to the Royal Engineers. And that my mother's husband, Arthur Wyndham, while recovering after his evacuation from Gallipoli, was for a while acting as a servant to a Captain Dowling, 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. An omen perhaps?
The staff at Lady Kenmore’s were able to tell me that they knew the family (McQuade) who had sold the medal and there were no other medals.
It was thorough further research and the British Medal Forum that I came into contact with Conor Dodd, and his father. These two gentlemen have been for many years collecting and reuniting the medals of former members of the Dublin Fusiliers. The medals will form the foundation of a Regimental Museum. They also happen to have the British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to Sgt McQuade.
So what next? After a long talk with Peter, I made the only decision I believe I could make. If the family had 'sold' the 1914-15 Star then it was mine, to do with it as I wished.
I have always believed that if I could not find the family, or a next of kin, then my obligation was to keep a soldier's medals together.
Two weeks ago a small parcel left for Dublin and now three of Sgt McQuade's medals are reunited.
For those of you who wonder. My agreement with Conor is that if the museum never eventuates, then the 1914-15 Star is returned to me, with the offer of purchasing the other medals, at the price paid for by Conor.
The cost of postage? Well let’s just say that somewhere in Dublin there is a Children's hospital, who will gratefully accept a donation of behalf of Sgt McQuade, in memory of 388 Shoeing Smith, Arthur Wyndham, 12th Light Horse Regiment.’

Bill has recently received the following email from Connor.

The hope that a museum will be founded might take a long time but it is my long term hope that it will happen, even if only in a small location. I know that I never have any intention of selling any of the medals that we have and it is highly unlikely that they will ever be on the market again. But if for some unforseen reason the collection is dispersed I offer you that all of Sgt. McQuade's medals are yours free of charge.
The donation has been made to Temple Street Children's Hospital in the names you requested, it is a worthy cause. They are grossly under funded for the work that they do particularly considering the state that the country is in now. You can see details on their website.

The last piece of this puzzle will be to locate McQuade’s DCM.

25 March 2012

WWII groups to Leslie and William Searle

In January 2011 I received an interesting parcel of medals and other military items. The other items included a RAN service record, Returned of Active Service Badge, dog tag and ribbon bars. These were all for two brothers, William Thomas Searle and Leslie John Searle.
William served in the RAAF with the number 34543 and Leslie in the RAN with the number S3594. As part of my research I learned that Leslie was known as Jack and after the war was a police officer with the NSW Police Force. Jack's service record is available on the NAA web site, here. The medals awarded to William are the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45. I suspect they are his full entitlement and are in their box of issue. The medals awarded to Jack are the 1939-45 Star the Pacific Star, the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45. Stars awarded tot eh RAN were issued un-named as can be seen in the second picture.
The medals and other items will be returned to Jack's daughter. William didn't have any children of his own and his medals will remain with Jack's medals. Thanks to Joe D who originally sent me the medals.
The returned medal tally is now 1101.

19 March 2012

Post update - June Bassett

Since my first post about the War Medal awarded to June Bassett, I have come across a picture of her brother Peter who also served in the RAAF during WWII. The post has been updated here.

17 March 2012

Frank Breaden

Some of our searches end up exactly where they begun. The story of the medals awarded to PTE Robson for example. 
Here is another case of medals being found in a relatives possessions but there is no recent family knowledge of them and when we finish the research they are exactly were they should be. This is Bill’s story of a recent search of this nature:  
‘I once posed the question on our Blog of 'when is a medal lost', the answer was quite simple really it was when the 'owner' had it but didn't know. 
Such was the case with the medals of 11298 Gunner Frank Breaden, 1st Field Artillery Brigade.
It also highlights the not inconsequential number of medals that families are discovering in 'Grandma or Grandad's biscuit tin'.
Such was the story of Frank Breaden and his British War and Victory Medals, home from where the search began.’

15 March 2012

James Waddington - British War Medal

This particular search has several factors which make it a bit more interesting than the usual search we deal with.
1195 Sapper James Daniel Waddington. James was already 42 years old when he enlisted for WWI. He was a miner and working in the Kalgoorlie goldfields in 1915. Like many miners James was employed in a tunnelling company. In his case the 3rd Tunnelling Company. The story of the tunnellers has recently been depicted in the film Beneath Hill 60. There weren't many of these units on the order of battle so a medal to one of the members is not very common and it is the first I have returned. I am currently researching another member of a Tunnelling Company but the medal does not have has a unit number and just says 'Tunn Coy'
The search for James was a bit difficult as he listed a friend as his next of kin. James married very late in life and died three months after his marriage. His wife, Selina, had four children from a previous marriage and it is through this family that I've located James' step grand daughter.
Another aspect of this medal that interests me is the naming. Firstly, having the Tunnelling Company unit name on the medal is very interesting. Also the impressing is a bit messy with the second 'D' in Waddington lower than the first and the overall alignment looks wrong.
This medal was sent to me by the WA RSL. The returned medal tally is now 1095.

14 March 2012

Arthur Pegus

This WWII pair consisting of the War medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45 was awarded to NX92801 Arthur Hood Pegus. While I can't be totally sure without accessing his service record, it is likely that this is his full entitlement.
Arthur was from a large extended family. His father was one of 13 children, however, Arthur only had one brother. Neither Arthur or his brother married so my search went to the uncles and aunties. What I found is that several died young or with out having children of their own. The line I ended up following was that of Arthur's cousin. Florence Muriel Pegus who married Russell Bunham Neal. It is Florence and Russell's son Don who I have located and will receive the medals shortly.
Thanks to Andrew C who sent me the medals to me originally. The returned medal tally is now 1094.

13 March 2012

William Cleaver - WWI British War Medal and Victory Medal

4524 Private William Cleaver served with the Bedfordshire Regiment during WWI. Unfortunately, there is no information about his war time activities.
During the 1920s he immigrated to Australia and sometime before 1931 he married Daphne Doreen Cleaver. William worked for the WA railways and I was able to follow them through the electoral rolls as they moved from town to town in Western Australia. William also served during WWII as W30410 SGT Cleaver with the 5th Garrison Battalion. William died in 1978 and Daphne in 1980. Together they had one son, Ronald William Cleaver who married Dawn Cottell in 1972. Ronald died in 1990. It was Dawn's second marriage and they were both 40 at the time of the marriage; unfortunately they had no children.
I came across a family tree which gave me the details of Ronald and Dawn. The tree has been put together by Dawn's nephew, Peter. I've been in touch with Peter and he is going to receive the medals.
This pair was originally sent to me by the WA RSL. The returned medal tally is now 1092.

11 March 2012

June Mary Bassett - 1939-45 Australian Service Medal

This story started out as a search for the family of a pretty ordinary 1939-45 ASM but it turned out to be anything but.
I knew the medal was in the mail but when it arrived last Friday I soon found the medal itself was a little bit different. First of all this is the first ASM I've handled that was awarded to a female member of the RAAF. Secondly, the naming is a little different to most examples of the ASM. After WWII each service was responsible for the issue of medals and there was differences in the naming conventions. For example the majority of Army medals were impressed but RAAF medals were burr engraved as is the case with this one.
The medal was awarded to 91396 SGT June Mary Bassett who was part of the movements and transport organisation of the RAAF. I was able to follow June through the electoral rolls and work out that she never married and that she died in 2002.
I then started to look at the broader family. June's father, Arthur Brookes Bassett served in WWI as 853 Gunner Bassett in the Artillery. During WWII he first served as V80317 Private Bassett in a Garrison Battalion and then as 250904 Squadron Leader Bassett in the RAAF. Arthur divorced June's mother and remarried. He had another daughter from his second marriage but she has also died. The direct line of this family lead me to dead ends.
I found a family tree which started to make this search really interesting. Arthur's mother was Caroline Loxton who was the aunty of Australian cricketing great Sam Loxton. This made Sam the 3rd cousin of June but I knew there would be a closer relative so I had a look at Arthur's brother Walter Eric Bassett. I initially worked back wards through Walter's life but then had to move forward to locate his children. It is probably best to tell this part of the story chronologically.
Walter saw service as an engineer during WWI starting as a 2nd Lieutenant. In April 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action. Later in 1916 he commenced training as a navigator in the Australian Flying Corps and was taken on strength of the AFC in April 1917. Shortly after this, on 5 June 17, Walter received severe gunshot wounds. He took his discharge in England at the end of the war. I have found a family history website that has several photos of Walter during WWI and in his later life. I have reproduced a couple of these photos below.
Walter went on to have a distinguished career as an engineer. His Australian Dictionary of Biography entry makes interesting reading. In 1959 Walter was knighted and one of the photos I found shows Viscount Slim investing Sir Walter with his KBE. Unfortunately, WWII saw tragedy for Walter and his wife, Flora, when their eldest son Orme drowned while on active service. Orme is buried in the Ambon War Cemetery.
I'll be returning the medal to June's brother Peter who also served in the RAAF during WWII.
Thanks to Andrew C who sent me the medal and to John L who provide details on the Bassett family for me. Also thanks to the author of the Tales of a family website from which I borrowed some photos and information. The returned medal tally is now 1090.

Walter in England during WWI

Walter receiving his knighthood from Viscount Slim

The photos is of group photo of No 4 Initial Training School, RAAF. June's brother Peter Bassett is in the centre row, 5th from the right.