I was recently asked to do some research on a medal and the story I uncovered is worth retelling.
The medal in question is a Queen's South Africa Medal with the clasps Transvaal, Orange Free State and Cape Colony. This medal was awarded for service during the Boer War.
The medal is named to 729 CPL W Oaks Victorian Mounted Rifles. However, it is immediate obvious that the original name has been erased and W. Oaks has been added. The number and unit are untouched. As can be seen in the pictures of the medal the rim is thinner near the W, the font is not the same as the unit name and close inspection shows that the renaming is done by chisel engraving where the rest is impressed. The final tell tale is the remnants of the previous naming to the right of the 'W'.
My mate Daryl is a QSA expert but between the two of us we just couldn't find a person by the name of Oaks who served in an Australian contingent to the Boer War. So we reverted to what was known: the number and the unit. This led me to 729 CPL Charles Edward Somerset O'Donnell. I'm convinced that this is the man who was originally awarded the medal. O'Donnell is also mentioned on the Australians in the Boer War data base and his photo appears as part of a contingent montage.
(Clicking on the articles will produce a larger view)
Source: The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), Tuesday 31 July 1900, page 5
Many more articles followed this initial one and Edward's condition fluctuated over several months