The story started in April 2011 when I was sent the 1914-15 awarded to 2854 Charles William Edwards by Mal H from South Australia. Charles was the son of Alfred John Milner Edwards and Jessie Ida (nee Johnston). He was initially allocated to 27th Battalion but later moved to 10th Battalion. He was wounded in 1916 receiving a gun shot wound to his left arm and another wound which later led to his left eye being removed. By 1917 Charles was back in Adelaide.
Charles attestation papers has his grand father listed as his next of kin. This seemed a little odd to me but our subsequent research made this entry understandable. The only other clue to his family was a letter from his sister a Mrs E.C. Mills enquiring about his health.
Who was Mrs E.C. Mills? Following convention I assumed that the E.C. where her husbands initials but it was pointed out to me that her signature included an E which most likely meant her name and her husband's name begun with this letter.
Our friends at the Australian Surname Group then provided a clue that 866 PTE Edwin Charles Mills NOK address was the same one used by the person claiming to be Charles' sister. A comparison of the hand writing of letters from both service records confirmed they were the same person. The E.C. was indeed Edwin Charles and the E turned out to be Effie Gladys Mills (nee Smith).
This is a picture I found of Edwin (State Records of SA GRG26/5/4/2204).
I also found this story about his death in Victoria (The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.1848 - 1956), Thursday 26 June 1930, page 13). Unfortunately, it is a little hard to read.
The text reads:
For a while I convinced myself I had it all wrong with Effie's maiden being Smith. Then I found an Ancestry tree which showed that Charles mother was later living with a man called George Smith. Effie was Charle's step sister.
Jessie and George had a daughter of their own but I now know that Jessie died when her daughter, Laurel, was only 2 years old. Laurel married in 1929 to William Frank Jackson but he died in 1941. Laurel then remarried but had no children.
So it was back to Effie and Edwin. Their daughter was Iris Effie who married John Taylor in 1943. John died in 1949. Iris and John didn't have any children and Iris never remarried.
So all the immediate relatives of Charles had died leaving me back at square one. We aren't exactly sure where or when Charles died. It could have been in Adelaide in 1956 or WA in 1979. But we are sure he didn't marry or have children.
On close examination of the Ancestry family tree I worked out the the owner, Margaret, was the great grand daughter of George Smith, Jessie's second husband. This makes her Charles' step great niece. Margaret has a wealth of family history information related to all the people mentioned is in story and is the most appropriate person to receive the medal.
Thanks to Mal H for sending the medal to me. The returned medal tally is now 1210.