25 June 2012

John De Bruno Austin WWII medals

QX2399 John De Bruno Austin was a man of many parts. He was born in Gisborne NZ and with his parents, a brother and two sisters the family moved to Australia in the 1930. One sister remained in Gisborne.
The family settled in Sydney but the first independent evidence I could find on John was than in the mid 1930s he was living in Hidden Valley, Queenslnad. I've driven through Hidden Valley, which is near Townsville, and know that there is not much there. My immediate thought was that he was a miner. Sure enough the electoral rolls showed that John moved around the country and is listed as a prospector.
From the other records I could find I established that his brother Edward did not marry and that his sisters, Mary and Cora married late in life and didn't have any children. 
John died in 1973 and I was lucky enough to find his death notice in the paper. As well as the siblings that moved to Australia with him there is also mention of another sister, Mrs Dorothy Winter, of Gisborne. I then started searching down that path and found a story about a Mrs Dorothy Jane Winter who celebrated her centenary in 2006. This story also gave me the name of a daughter of Dorothy. By searching the NZ electoral rolls I as able to confirm the address Dorothy lived at and I then searched the daughter's name in the NZ White Pages. I found her living at the same address as Dorothy did for many years. One phone call later I had confirmed the family connection and John's medals will soon be returned to his niece.
John's medals are in rather poor condition and it looks like they might have been painted at some time.
These medals are from the NSW RSL box and the returned medal tally is 1167.

19 June 2012

James Worthington - WWII medals

As I said in my last post, every now and then we revisit old research to see if there is anything new.
Today I had a fresh look at the medals awarded to NX5179 James Edward Worthington. Bill had some information and to quote him the research was a 'shambles'. We had differing dates of birth for Worthington from different sources which complicated things but this wasn't uncommon for the time.
I couldn't work out exactly which James Edward Worthington I was looking for in the NSW electoral rolls as there were a few chaps with exactly the same name living in roughly the same areas of Sydney. The only fact I had was that James' NOK on the nominal roll was Isabel. On a hunch I looked at her history.
There was no record of a marriage or death on the NSW births, death and marriages website to a couple with these names so this stumped me. However, I did find the death of an Isabella Worthington on the Ryerson Index. Based on the date of death I found the death notice in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1968. The notice confirmed this was James' wife and it also gave me the names of their two sons.
This took me back to the electoral rolls on Ancestry and based on knowing the name Isabella I was able to pin point the Worthington family and get the full name of one son. This in turn lead me to a family tree on Ancestry.
10 minutes after sending a message to the tree owner I had a reply telling me that I had the correct family. This family has a strong military heritage with the husband of one of James' grand daughters having fought at the Battle of Coral during the Vietnam War.
After receiving these medals in October 2010 and running in to brick wall after brick wall for many months this search took a little over two hours from the time I had another look at it. Poor Bill, each time I asked him a question about his research I either worked out the answer myself or found information that made the question redundant.
These medals are from the NSW RSL Box and the returned medal tally is now 1164.

I've shown the medals exactly how they came to me. The mounting is very crude and the War Medal is around the wrong way. The full group consists of the War Medal the Defence Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45.

17 June 2012

Douglas Welsh - 1914 Trio and 2 MID

In October 2010 I posted a story about the NSW RSL box. We have progressively worked our way through it and there is only a small proportion of the original 181 medals left to return. Every so often Bill and I go back over those remaining and see if there is any new information available.
One of the groups that surprised me when the box arrived was a WWI trio comprising of the 1914 Star (rather than the 1914-15 Star), the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and two Mentioned in Dispatches (MID) emblems. I quickly established that the medals were awarded to 2326 PTE Douglas Welsh who initially served with the Royal Highlanders before transferring to the Machine Gun Corps (number 22173). Through some research assistance from the British Medal Forum we located the London Gazette entires for both MID. I was also pointed towards Douglas' pension papers which were available on Ancestry. The pension papers gave me Douglas' father's name and his address in 1919.
An internet search threw up a rather interesting piece of information about this family. Around 1910 a meteorite fragment landed on the farm where Douglas and his parents lived. The impact was witnessed by his mother. The story is at this link. Even more interesting is a photo of Mrs Welsh looking at the impact site.

Source: http://www.meteoritehistory.info/UKIRELAND/STR9.JPG

I then ran in to the usual brick walls. That was until last Tuesday when Bill sent me an email asking what information I had on Douglas. I did a quick check of Ancestry and stumbled across a very comprehensive  family tree with the whole family. Douglas had seven siblings including Thomas who was killed in action on 5 November 1914. All this information has been added since I first looked in to Douglas so it pays to revisit our research every now and then.
This is a photo of Thomas.

These are Douglas' medals, a photo of him as a school boy and then later in life with some family members.

Thank you to Moira for allowing me to use the family photos and as mentioned these medals came to me from the NSW RSL.The returned medal tally is now 1161.

Post update - 7 Jul 12
Today I received another wonderful photo from Moira of three of the eight Welsh children. This shows, from the left - Douglas, David and Patrick.

16 June 2012

Langdon Reuben Rule - British War Medal

This is another example of all the research pieces falling in to place thanks to Ancestry.
The BWM awarded to 6581 Langdon Reuben Rule also came to me from Graham Docksey of the Albury RSL. Rule served with the 8th Battalion AIF and the search for him was a little difficult as his first and second names are often reversed and different spelling is used. After a few hours focusing on Rule, I had run in to the inevitable brick wall.
I then started to focus on his wife and I stumbled across his her name in an Ancestry family tree. Then the whole story opened up. Within 10 minutes of that discovery and taking an educated guess, I was talking to Rule's grand daughter.
I'll be returning the medal to Dianne in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now 1158.

Alfred Turner WWII group of three

Sometimes our research goes almost flawlessly. This is one such case.
A little over a week ago I received an email from an friend of mine who is on the executive of the Albury RSL. They had some medals that they asked me to have a look at. I did a cursory search of Ancestry and noticed that SX2465 Alfred Percival James Turner (sometimes referred to as Percival Alfred in official documents) was included in a family tree
I left the research alone until the medals arrived in yesterday's post. It didn't take long to find the tree again on Ancestry so I sent the owner a message. Within 30 minutes I had a reply (which turned in to a lovely conversation) and confirmed the family connection. In total this took less than five minutes work to get the details of Alfred's  grand son and where I need to send the medals to.
My friend at the Albury RSL is Major Graham Docksey OAM (Retd). For many years Graham has been the driving force behind the Australian Army Museum at Bandiana and I highly recommend to anyone who visits the Albury-Wodonga area to spend some time at this museum.
These medals are in as issued condition and have never been worn. The returned medal tally is now 1157.

12 June 2012

Alan Barndon WWII medal

This Australian Service Medal 1939-45 has had a pretty tough life. It was awarded to WX39197 Alan James Barndon and has come loose from it's suspender as can be seen in the photos. The rim is heavily worn which made getting a photo of the naming rather difficult.
The search for Alan's family used two sources - the electoral rolls and the White Pages. After that the assistance of some very helpful family members will mean this medal will soon be returned to Alan's son.
Thank you to Brad W who sent me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1154.

09 June 2012

Lieutenant Owen George Dawes RANVR

Every so often I receive a set of miniature medals and we are asked to return them. Unfortunately, miniatures are not named like full size medals so without any supporting evidence this would be an impossible task.
In this particular case I did receive additional information that helped us locate the family of Lieutenant Owen George Dawes RANVR.
When the miniatures of the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star and the Pacific Star were sent to me they were accompanied with a letter and Owen's calling card. All this helped me establish exactly who the medals were awarded to.
The envelop which contained the letter is addressed to Mrs J Ibotson. The letter thanks Mrs Ibotson for her kindness given to Owen and his wife Sara and offers the minitures as a gift so that he might be remembered. The letter is pictured below (click on the letter for an enlarged view).
We initially ran in to the usual brick walls on this search until very recently when Owen's grandson came across our research on the Australian Surname Group. He then got in touch with us and the medals will be sent to him shortly.
Thanks to Helga N who sent me the medals and letter.
The returned medal tally is now 1153.