30 November 2012

Charles Edwards

This is one of the most difficult searches we had had for a while and it took some time to unravel.
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:
Not Seen by Porters
The body of Edwin Charles Mills, aged 41 years, of Surrey road, South Yarra, was found on the rails near a platform of the Richmond station on June 14.
Ronald Thomas Golding, railway porter, said that he was on duty at the Richmond platform on the night of June 13. It would be impossible for anyone to fall beneath a train as it left the platform without his seeing it
Eric Rupert Wall, porter, of Brooke crescent, Hawthorn thought it impossible that anyone could have fallen beneath a train without his seeing it  
Effie Gladys Mills, wife of Edwin Charles Mills, said that she knew of no reason
why her husband should have got out of the train at Richmond station.  
The Coroner (Mr. D. Grant) said that notwithstanding the statements of the two      
porters that no one could have fallen beneath the train without them seeing it.  
Mills must have done so. He satisfied that death was accidental.   

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.

29 November 2012

Benjamin Kent

3505 Acting Sergeant Benjamin Cumming Kent served in 49th Battalion during WWI and later in the militia during WWII. Benjamin's only son died aged 22 in the 1930. His BWM will be returned to his great, great niece.
Thanks to Warrant Officer Bennett RAN (Rtd) who sent the medal to me. The returned medal tally is now 1209.

27 November 2012

George Pittman

WX3719 George Alfred Pittman was born in Ballancourt, France before his family settled in Western Australia. When George enlisted his profession is listed as school teacher and reference is made to in his service record. For his service in the Pacific George was Mentioned in Despatches.
Pictured are George's War Medal, Defence Medal and the ASM-1939-45. Missing are the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star and the Pacific Star which George would also have received.
Thank you very much to Peter L who sent these medals to me last week and also to my friend MJ who was the initial go between.
These medals will soon be returned to George's daughter. The returned medal tally is now 1208.

Post update 11 Dec 12
I recently met George's daughter Sue so that I could return these medals personally. We spent a wonderful hour chatting about George and his exploits as a linguist during WWII. This photo is of Sue and I - and George - taken by Sue's husband Steve. Sue tells me that George's remaining medals are still with the family so the entire group will be reunited.

21 November 2012

Frederick Creek update

When I was given the surname name of Frederick Creek's great niece I thought it was familiar. It is not a very common name but for the life of me I just couldn't remember why I recalled it. I'm sure it is the chemo drugs still affecting my memory.
Late yesterday evening I received an email from Kaye's daughter Ann (Frederick's great great niece), who reminded me that she had sent me a medal awarded to Leslie Midford Dixon which we returned in August 2010. I'm so pleased something good has come back to Kaye and Ann.

20 November 2012

Frederick Creek

2568 Frederick Oswald Creek was initially allocated to 13th Battalion, AIF but within 9 months was transferred to 45th Battalion. His service record doesn't give much detail about exactly where he was other than he was killed in action on 7 August 1916. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.

Photo credit - Anna Llanwarne

Frederick's picture is available on the AWM web site at this link.
The search for a relative started out quite well and I soon put together a family tree which included four brothers and three sister. Some of these siblings died young or never married. The next generation was easy enough to track but then most of the lines also died out. I came across several family trees on Ancestry but the relationship to Frederick was quite distant and I kept hitting brick walls. That was until this morning and thanks to a prompt by Bill, I found Frederick on a tree put together by Di Cole. Di is distantly related to the Creek family but she very generously provided me her research and the name of a lady who turned out to be Frederick's great niece. Once I had this name and a general location I took a few educated guesses and yet another punt and ended up speaking to Kaye, the great niece. I'll be sending Frederick's 1914-15 Star to Kaye in the near future.
Thank you to COL Ken Duncan (RL) of the Australian Water Transport Association RAE, AIF and RACT who sent the medals to me in the first instance.
The returned medal tally is now 1205.

19 November 2012

Arnaldo Pante

This post about 3411699 GNR Arnaldo Giovanni Giuseppe Pante is short because we found out very little about him. All that we could confirm was that he served with 103 Field Battery, 1st Field Regiment, RAA during the Vietnam War.
The returned medal tally is now 1204.

18 November 2012

Mildred Evaline Vaughan

This is a fascinating story which I'll let Bill tell. 

'The Vaughan story began when I was approached by the President of a Melbourne RSL Sub-Branch. The Club had been given a collection of medals, the result of a collector deciding to pursue another hobby. The President, while willing to accept the medals, felt that there should an examination into how the medals came to be sold in the first, and so the story began.
Invariably when we ring a next of kin of the recipient of the medals we hold, and after having explained who and what we are doing, we are most often met with the comments "Dad's medals. They have been missing for years. Where did you find them?"
It is not unusual that as we pass through our research, we swing backwards and forwards, where we sometimes think we have taken not the expected two steps back, but rather we are back again at the beginning of our search. Often trying to work out how we got it wrong by proceeding down one path, when you probably should have ignored it altogether.
But never, until I started the search for the family of VF510178 Mildred Evaline Vaughan had I been met when calling with the words "What medals? Mum didn't have medals. Dad yes, but Mum no". Then the second question; "Where did you get them? The answer to that question is usually short, but the answer to; "How did you find me?" is the one that takes up the time.
So then came the first part of the answer explanation that Mildred had served during WW2 in the Army, and as such she was eligible for the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939-1945.
 The second part was a bit more complicated. Several years ago a medal collector tiring of collecting medals and having lost the enthusiasm for his hobby faced with the problems associated with selling his collection, gave them to a Melbourne RSL. An incoming President asked me if it would be possible to do an audit of the medals, in particular their background and where had they come from.
Perhaps the most pleasing part of the search was for it to end with a successful conclusion. A search that was began in March 2010 was completed this week when Mildred's medals were presented to her daughter Jane.

Mildred's family had a tradition of Military Service, her father Lieutenant Percy William Vaughan, served with the 1st Australian Service Squadron in South Africa during the Boer War from 1900 to 1901. During WW1 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the defence of the Newcastle Port.

Lieutenant Percy William Vaughan 
Originally the Manager of City Bank, Braidwood, NSW, Percy received 5 bars to his Queen's South Africa Medal and was Mentioned in Despatches.
His son Kenneth Montague Vaughan served as a Captain during WW2.
His other daughter, Phyllis, married a Royal Naval Commander.
So it was in this tradition that Mildred joined the Army during WW2.
As for the search itself, well it took the assistance of the team at the Australian Surname Group and many many hours in the State library of Victoria, carefully trolling over old newspapers and electoral rolls. I followed the progress from Melbourne to Perth where Mildred met and married William Hudson in 1946. Mildred returned to Melbourne to live after the death of her husband. 
But the question does remain where have the medals been all this time? And who had them court mounted. As I explained to Jane, I don't know and I guess we probably never will, but what is more important is that the medals are home with Mildred's family.'
The returned medal tally is now 1202.

Melvyn Hinds - A mile stone return

There is not a lot I can tell you about NX172535 Melvyn Leonard William Hinds. His WWII group of four medals was initially sent to the NSW RSL by Geraldine of the Periwinkle Guest House and the the RSL forwarded them to me.
Melvyn's death notice gave me the names of his wife and children and using this information Bill was able to track down Mrs Hinds. The medals will be returned to her shortly,
This return is a significant mile stone for Lost Medals Australia as we have now returned 1200 medal.

This is how the medals arrived. The ASM and the War medal are mounted the wrong way around.


14 November 2012

Albert Ernest Walker

The British War Medal and the Victory Medal awarded to 101 LCPL Albert Ernest Walker are in as issued condition. They have never been mounted for wear and came to me with the original 90 year old ribbon.
Albert was 21 when he enlisted with the 40th Battalion, AIF. His service record shows that he was wounded in action in 1917 and then again on 31 August 1918. He died of his wounds on 1 September 1918, just two months before the end of the war. Albert is buried at Daours Communal Cemetery.
My search for Albert's family started by looking around the Lilydale area of Tasmania where Albert was from. A family tree on Ancestry gave me the married name of one of Albert's sisters. I found several people by this name in the White Pages in the area around Launceston, close to Lilydale, so I took a punt and ended up speaking to the daughter in law of Albert's sister. I'll return the medal to this family in the near future.
Thank you to COL Ken Duncan (RL) of the Australian Water Transport Association RAE, AIF and RACT who sent the medals to me in the first instance.
The returned medal tally is now 1196.

13 November 2012

A Murrish

As soon as I received this 1939-45 Star I knew it wasn't awarded to an Australian. It then took some time to work out it's origin.
I know it wasn't an Australian issue as the naming conventions were different to what I am familiar with. An Australian issued WWII star has the service details on two lines; the number on the top line and the initials and surname on the bottom. Also the naming is central on the reverse of the medal. This example, as can be seen in the photo, has the naming on three lines. It is spread apart on the reverse and is a different font and font size from the Australian naming. Also a check of the Australian WWII nominal roll showed that no one with this name served in the 2nd AIF, the RAN or the RAAF. I also know that is wasn't British as WWII medals were issued un-named.
So where to look? Morris C, my man in Brisbane, got stuck in to the research and narrowed down the family to South Africa. That was the key. Unfortunately, there is very little in the way of South African records available on line but I narrowed down Morris' initial research enough to work out the family emigrated from England to South Africa in the 1920s. The next proof I found was the publication in the London Gazette that 31434 LCPL Murish was Mentioned in Despatches. This confirmed that he served in the South African Forces but not much else.
It was finally through Ancestry that I was able to contact the family and the medal will be returned to them in the near future. Much thanks go to Morris for his tenacity to get the break through on this search .
The returned medal tally is now 1194.

07 November 2012

Australian Active Service Medal

It is not often that I see contemporary Australian medals that have been lost. When I do it is usually because they have been stolen and then discarded. In this case the Australian Active Service Medal awarded to LAC Proudlock was found in the mail having come adrift from its packaging.
It didn't take me long to track down LAC Proudlock and I'll soon be forwarding the medal and his Returned From Active Service Badge to his unit.

This medal came to me from Jackie E of Australia Post. Jackie has been forwarding me lost medals for about 10 years and I think have close to a 100% return rate for her.
The returned medal tally is now 1193.

03 November 2012

William Best Merchant Navy

I received the WWII British War medal awarded to William Best in March and ran into immediate brick walls. Yesterday, I decided to have a close look at Best to see what I could come up with and today the full story unravelled in my lap.
There is only one person with the surname Best who served in the MN and the only additional clue was that he received a British Empire Medal (Civil Division). That led me down a very interesting path. William was from Clydebank in Scotland and from an early age joined the merchant navy. His family moved to South Australia around 1925.
The first piece of information about the BEM was this entry from the London Gazette (click on the image for a larger view).

Source - London Gazette

 I then found the story of the MV Melbourne Star which was the vessel that William was on when he was attacked. This link has great details about the sinking. This is a picture of Bill in hospital after he was rescued and the story about his ordeal from the Adelaide Advertiser (click on the image for a larger view).

Photo source - http://www.melbournestar.co.uk/Survivors.html  courtesy Julia Nunn

Source - Trove

This story, also from the Adelaide Advertiser, gives much more detail about Bill's survival (click on the image for a larger view).

Source - Trove

This card is from the AWM collection showing Bill's award of the BEM. What it gave me was his address and from there I could move forward with the research (click on the image for a larger view).

Source AWM collection

Unfortunately, the South Australian records are the least accessible of all Australian states so Bill and I asked the Australian Surname Group to have a look at this for us. Very quickly we had the names of Bill's siblings and their children. Based on this information I was able to then put together a family tree. One name was easy to research and as it turns out he was an officer in the Royal Australian Navy for many years. Through the electoral rolls I followed him through to 1980, including when he lived at an address about 400 m from where I lived in 1977. Once I had a name the rest was pretty easy and this afternoon I spoke to Bill's nephew, Ken.
Ken tells me that Bill married late in life but didn't have any children of his own. Even though Bill's medals were supposed to go to Ken this didn't occur but now the War Medal will be returned.

Thanks to Andrew C for sending the medal to me originally. The returned medal tally is now 1192.