19 December 2013

Michael James Fitzgerald

The resolution of this search came about after a number of small threads came together to present the full picture. A little bit of luck also went my way.
1856 T-CPL Michael James Fitzgerald originally enlisted with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment. His service record doesn't provide much detail about where he served but it would appear that he transferred to the field artillery as a driver and ended up in France.
I couldn't find any evidence that Fitzgerald married so my search extended to his siblings. After a false start in March this year I revisited the search yesterday. Fitzgerald was one of 13 children, one sister was Bridgett who married Reginald Roy Shanks. I found an interesting story about a deserter that Shanks was sent to arrest.
It is through Bridgett's family that I focused my research. Reginald and Bridgett son was Gerald who in turn had three children. As luck would have it I found a family tree which provided me the name of his daughter and who she married. This name is quite unusual and I could only find one similar on line. Taking a punt (yet again) I called this person and sure enough I had the right family. The lady I spoke to is Fitzgerald's great niece and I'll send her the medals in the near future.
Thanks goes to Ken Duncan who sent the medal to me originally.
The returned medal tally is now 1404.

18 December 2013

Dr T Ray Bradley

This is one search where time didn't quite work in my favour.
I received the WWII War Medal awarded to 449645 Thomas Ray Bradley in March 2012. Using service records and the electoral rolls I was able to follow Bradley and his family up until 1980. One firm piece of information I did find was that he went by the name T. Ray Bradley and was a doctor.
There is a significant amount of information available about Dr Bradley on the Internet mainly to do with his research in to the treatment of cancer. He was also made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1990. What I wasn't able to find was any contact details. Appeals to the research institutes that provide prizes in Dr Bradley's name yielded no additional information.
Yesterday I revisited this search and I immediately got a hit on Dr Bradley's name, unfortunately it was his obituary. Dr Bradley died in August 2013.
Thanks to Dr Ray Marginson, the obituary author, and Dr Juliet Flesch, I was able to contact Dr Bradley's daughter, Julie. Thanks also goes to Andrew Cairns who originally sent me the medal. This concludes the research of all the medals that Andrew has forwarded to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1402.

16 December 2013

Leslie Lewry

6010481 Leslie Lewry saw service in the British Army during WWII for which he was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medals and the War Medal. He then served in Palestine as part of the British involvement following WWII. For this Leslie was awarded the General Service Medal. Luckly this medal is named so I was able to start searching for him.
In the 1950s Leslie and his wife Elvery moved to Sydney and eventually settled in Perth. Using the electoral rolls and cemetery records I was able to gain a solid picture of their life in Australia. Unfortunately, they did not have any children.
By going backwards through the British records I established that Leslie had two brothers, Richard and David. It is through David's family that I have locate a family member to return theses medals to. Having focused most of my search in the UK I find that I'll end up sending these medals to Brisbane.
Thanks go to Pam McG who sent me the medals.
This return takes us past a significant milestone. The returned medal tally is now 1401.

14 December 2013

Ernest Arthur Horne

From start to finish this search has taken over 6 years. Using the service record of 493 PTE Ernest Arthur Horne, 6th LHR, I could work out snippets of his life. Ernest was 39 when he enlisted for WWI. Prior to this he had served for 8 years with the Natal Mounted Police. He saw active service on Gallipoli and after the withdraw he served in the Sinai and Palestine campaign. The service record also provided the date of his death in 1950. Using this date I could match up his death from the NSW BDM and confirm that his father and mother were Robert and Elizabeth Horne. The NOK details given upon enlistment were his mother, Mrs E Horne at an address in London and his sister, Mrs William MacKinnon of Aberdeen. Then the trail went very cold.
Evey so often I'll revisit a search to see if anything new can be found. I've had a look at he Horne search several times but no new information has ever presented itself. That was until today. Using William MacKinnon as a start point I found a MacKinnon family listed in the Scottish 1901 census living in the same street as appears in the service record. The wife was listed as Alison F MacKinnon. More searching showed that Alison F was in fact Alison Frances Horne, the daughter of Robert and Elizabeth. 10 minutes after starting I had the link I needed.
Using all these new names, I found a family tree on Ancestry that included Alison and Ernest. The tree owner lives in Perth so a little more searching gave me a phone number and I was soon talking to the descendants of James Charles Horne the elder brother of Alison and Ernest.
The first 6 years of his search was pretty difficult, however, the last 60 minutes proved very successful. As can be seen from the photo this Victory Medal has had a hard life. It has been heavily polished as the details of the angels face are not very distinct. The edge is very dented and looks to have been run over with a lawn mower.
Thank you to Deborah N who sent the medal to me in June 2007.
The  returned medal tally is now 1396.

13 December 2013

Thomas Wingrave

Yesterday I was visited by two wonderful friends, Karen and Steve Betterton. Over coffee Karen dived in to her bag and retrieved a WWI British War Medal. It had been found amongst her families possessions but the soldier was not a relative. The medal was awarded to 2215 PTE Thomas Horace Victor Wingrave who served with 18th Battalion, AIF.
Thomas was about 30 when he enlisted and with such a distinctive name I thought he would be easy to follow. Using the electoral rolls I could follow him from Victoria in 1909 to Queensland in 1913, back to Victoria after the War and final to NSW where he died in 1942. The information was a bit thin but it was more the story it didn't tell which helped me make some assumptions. Based on the lack of any evidence I assumed that Thomas didn't marry or have children.
I then went back to the WWI service records and using Thomas' birth place as a start point I was able to connect him with 4525 PTE Wisdom Herbet Wingrave. This then lead me to LT Frederick John Wingrave, Wisdom's son. Frederick served with 2nd Pioneer Battalion, AIF and there is a picture at this link of the battalion's officers. Frederick is in the back row, third from the right.
By using all these names I was able to locate a family tree on Ancestry.com.au. I fired off a message earlier this afternoon to the tree owner and I've since heard back from Joan who is Thomas' great niece. Joan tells me she met Thomas when she was young and was able to confirm that he didn't marry.
Thanks to Karen how gave me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1395.

Kevin Spencer

Earlier this year I received a parcel forwarded to me by my friend Sandra which contained service documents, dog tags and a Lodge medal belonging to Kevin Stuart Spencer. I've now located Kevin's sister and I'll be sending all these items to her in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now 1394.

30 November 2013

Edwards post update

The post about Brigadier Edwards has been updated. A portrait photo of Edwards has been added.

23 November 2013

William Dillon

Another fine example of Bill's research skills.

One of the problems of taking over someone’s desk, is the unintended consequences of what you inherit. So began the story of the 1939-1945 Australian Service Medal of TX14559 (T40914) William Rock Dillon. In fact it probably began more than 5 or so years before, when Bill’s ASM was found in a street in Hobart, Tasmania. The medal eventually found its way to a Government Department in Hobart, where it was duly noted, put in an envelope and put in a drawer. It could possibly still be there but for Chloe in Veterans Affairs, who inherited the desk and by default the medal. She then decided that the medal must belong to someone and that it was time it was sent back either to the recipient or his next of kin.
Enter yours truly.
Unfortunately, War Graves did not have a date of death, so I was then left with Trove, which not only gave me Bill’s date of death, but led me back to the State Library, and a veritable treasure trove  (no pun intended) of Bill’s family. As I followed William’s family I became at times confused by its sheer size. It was one of those searches where by the time you have worked out the family, in this case from Death notices, you really have to sit down and rethink exactly what it is you have worked out.
Armed with a great list of names, but not knowing which other that those whose surname was Dillon, may have been related, I started a slow search. Initially, via the Electoral Roll, then the White Pages going back towards 1999, to find one of Bill’s descendants.
It was as a result of this that last Tuesday I spoke to John, Bill’s son who was quite surprised to learn that his father had received medals for his time in the Army. As far as he knew his father had been training horses for the Army, for transport, and had never left Tasmania. To which I explained that it was not necessary to be posted overseas, to receive medals for service.
His next question which is one I could not answer, was ‘well who would have got Dad’s medals?” Quickly followed by “We are a Launceston family, always have been, there are no relatives as far as I know living in Hobart!”
To which I had no answer. But John has Dad’s medal.
Chloe, as you will be reading, this well done. And thank you for trusting me to find a next of kin.
The returned medal tally is now 1391.

21 November 2013

Len Guildford

Bill and our ever supportive friends from the Australian Surname Group have done some extraordinary research to fianilse this search. This Bill's story.

The return of the Guildford family medals show what can be achieved when a group of people, Kerry, a carpenter, the team from the Australian Surname Group and Jude at ANZAC House come together in a common cause.
When VX58124 Len Guildford, a WW2 Warrant Officer, passed away in 1990, his medals were lost to his family. Also with Len’s medals lost so were the WW1 medals of his father 5057 L/Cpl. Charles Alfred Guilford. At the conclusion of the search, when I spoke to Len’s daughter Cynthia, she explained how for many years she has looked for her father’s medals, but to no avail. She had not even known of her Grandfather’s medals. The whole family collection would have remained lost were it not for Kerry, who found the medals in a tin box in the roof of a house he was renovating.
Kerry’s first approach was to try and return the medals himself, but as he later admitted, that was not as easy as he first thought. His next step was to ANZAC House, where Jude passed him my details; and so the second search began.
It has been a complex, frustrating and tiring search, in other words a standard ‘Lost Medals Australia’ bang your head against the wall, search. Complicating it was when Len, a widower, married for the second time. He and his wife then moved to the Gold Coast. However, when Len passed away in 1990, his wife returned to Melbourne where she lived until 2001.
Now while a family tree is a major step in finding relatives, sometimes it can be a confusing barrier. In this case the tree I developed came from Charles and Florence Guildford’s (Len’s parents) death notices in the Argus newspaper but only the first names were ever mentioned.
Tracing Len’s brother Ron was relatively easy, both having served in the Armed Forces during WW2. However, Ronald who never married passed away in 1947 from war injuries he received.
It was his sisters Lorna and Cynthia, who incidentally Len and his wife named their daughter after, that proved the next stumbling block.
Lorna had married in 1940, however, sadly her husband and their two adopted children, pre-deceased her. At this point all references to Lorna ceased. I still do not know when she died or where she was buried. Sadly neither does the family.
Cynthia, was a similar unknown, because of her date of birth she was did not appear on the published Birth, Death and Marriage records. Nor was there any mention of her on Trove.
So the only option now open was to try and trace Cynthia, Len’s daughter.
To this I owe a debt of gratitude to Sue of the Australian Surname Group, who traced Cynthia, actually Cynthia Ethel Guildford, through her family addresses up to 1960, however, she was absent from the 1963 Electoral Roll. But in the 1960 and 1963 Electoral Rolls there was only three women with the given names Cynthia Ethel, one in Stawell, one in Shepparton, and one living in a Melbourne bayside suburb. So assuming that Cynthia had married, the search took on a new and more complex perspective. It was this search that then brought me to Cynthia. But not before one more hitch. The Electoral Roll microfiches at the State Library only go up to 2008. So where to next?
Answer; the White Pages, in particular the White Pages for 2008, where I looked up Cynthia and her husband’s telephone number. The reason being that while people may change addresses and Cynthia and her husband, who it transpired, were house renovators, and had moved every 4 to 5 years, didn’t change how they had their names and initials printed in the phone book. At home an hour later and I was speaking to Cynthia.
While there is always a certain amount of satisfaction when you return medals, I do not know who is the happiest, Cynthia to have both the medals of her Grandfather and Father back, or Kerry, who is overjoyed that he was able to affect their return.
For myself I must be getting old, while I was so very glad to return the medals, this morning when I spoke to Glyn about the search I had to admit I was exhausted. That tonight would be early to bed.
However it is now 11.30 PM as I sit at my computer writing this story.
The returned medal tally is now 1390.

16 November 2013

15 November 2013

John James Budden Monaghan

This was another difficult search mainly due to the length of time since the medals were awarded.
This pair, for service during the Boer War, were awarded to 2899 Private J Monaghan who served in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Luckily, the Queen's South Africa Medal has the initial J.J.B. which helped considerably.
Through a contact on the British Medal Forum (Bart), I received the following information:
John James Budden Monaghan. Born at Frimley, Surrey. Enlisted at Gosport, 2 March 1889, aged 15 years 4 months. Discharged on termination of engagement, 1 March 1902. Next of kin was his grandmother, Eliza Budden, of Prospect Place, Netherbury, Beaminster, Dorset. He also earned an India Medal (clasps Punjab Frontier and Tirah), and received a severe gunshot wound at Enselin, 25 November 1899.
This lead me to work out Monaghan's father's name was Samuel and mother Christiana. I then located him in NZ from 1906 to 1919 working as a tailor/presser. In none of the records was there evidence that he was married.
I have since found a distant relative who I'll return the medals to. Thank you very much to Margaret S who dropped the medals at my home this week.
The returned medal tally is now 1383.
Of interest, the QSA has the ghost date numbers that were removed from the dye when the war went past 1900. This is mentioned in the Wikipedia link I provided.

Post update - 16 Nov 13

Bart of the British Medal Forum and Janet, who I'll send the medals to, have both supplied me some additional information about Monaghan.

From Bart: 'I had a quick look at the census entries too, and it struck me that Monaghan was rather alone in the world. His mother seems to have died at his birth, and his father (an Army Sergeant) does not appear to have played any part in his upbringing. He was educated at the Royal Military Asylum (afterwards renamed The Duke of York's Royal Military School), which was originally intended for orphaned children, so perhaps his father died when he was young too. His next of kin, his grandmother, died not long after he enlisted.'

From Janet: 'I have just discovered an Eliza Mary Monaghan who must have been a twin sister. She shares the same reference as John in the British Free BMD Births record. I think she must have died in infancy, but the only possible death record is for an Elizabeth Mary Monaghan; Age 0; at Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, UK.  I've just looked on the map and it's not that far from where they were born.
I've now found the death of a Samuel Monaghan in 1875 in Medway, Kent, UK; Age 32. He is living with his grandmother in the 1881 census.'

Harold Keith Quinan

I really struggled with this search. It started when I received the WWII medals awarded to NX2788 Harold Keith Quinan from a fellow Army officer Major Wayne S.
Finding Harold's WWII nominal roll entry was the easiest part of this whole search. He was a very early enlistee having a service number of 2788. From the NSW Birth Death's and Marriage records I put together the large Quinn family tree. I could work out Harold's death but no birth. Not unusual but it caused confusion. Based on the names of other family members I contacted a descendant and the name Harold was not familiar to the family. Nothing made sense since the NOK from the nominal roll and the mother's name for Harold's death was the same as for the rest of the family. While sitting and staring at Harold's death registration I noticed it was for the same date as a name I assumed to be his brother's, Kenneth Hillary Quinan. I then focused on Kenneth.

What I then found were two WWI service records which are almost the same. The first is for Kenneth Harold Quinan which gives his parents as Norman and Florence and that he was born in New York on 15 September 1898. This would make him over 18 when he enlisted for WWI. The service record is not complete. The second is for Kenneth Hillary Quinan once again with Norman and Florence as his parents. The record shows that he was also born in New York on 2 January 1900. Even though his parents give permission for him to enlist, late in 1918, they ask that he not be sent over seas until he reached 19.
An examination of the hand written parts that the soldier filled in on the form are identical hand writing. I believe that Kenneth Harold and Kenneth Hillary are the same boy who raised his age on two occasions to enlist. In reality Kenneth Hillary was born in 1902 in NSW.
Now to WWII. There is no record of a Harold Keith until WWII and the records gives his next of kin as Florence and his berth place is Warialda which is the same as Kenneth's from the BDM. I'm convinced they are all one and the same.
Kenneth Hillary's death notice does not mention any children so it is a nephew of Kenneth/Harold who I'll send the medals to.
Several members of the Quinan family also served in WWII
Thanks Wayne for the medals and thanks Raylee for the additional Quinan family information.
The returned medal tally is now 1381.

Very early issue Stars were unnamed. Soldiers were later given the option to return them for official naming. It would appear that Kenneth/Harold chose to have his privately engraved.
A brother of  Kenneth/Harold was Squadron Leader G J Quinan who was also an early enlistee for WWII. He was also the CO of 4 Squadron.
Another brother served in the same battalion as Kenneth/Harold, this was NX20143 Claude Brian Quinan. Their father also enlisted as N106405 Norman Frank Quinan. This photo is of Kenneth/Harold and his father Norman (on the left).

11 November 2013

Henry Herrick Edwards

I often mention how a little bit of luck goes a long way in solving some cases.
Last Wednesday I received an email from the National Secretary of the RSL asking if I could assist a chap who had some medals he wanted to return to the family. I called the number provided and spoke to Drew who had found the medals awarded to VX80894 Brigadier Henry Herrick Edwards. It didn't take me long to work out that Brigadier Edwards had been awarded the Companion of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. I also found that Brigadier Edwards had severed in WWI in the field artillery. This is the bio entry for Edwards.
By using the NSW Birth, Deaths and Marriage records I was able to establish when Edwards died and that his wife's name was Marjorie Inez Edwards (nee Flynn). From their death notices I found that they had three children, Anthony, Meryl and Fay. Anthony was easy to follow but that lead ended when I found that he died in 2011. 
For the next few hours I searched in vein for any lead on Meryl and Fay. The electoral rolls gave to many retunes and without a middle name or married name it was just to difficult. I then had that one piece of luck that I needed. In frustration I looked at every page of the electoral roll hits I got. The very last entry on the very last page of the very last published year of electoral rolls (1980) was for Meryl Inez Edwards. This was to much of a coincidence. From there I checked the White Pages and sure enough there was an M I Edwards at the same address from the 1980 entry. I put all this information aside until yesterday when Drew dropped the medals off at my house. Shortly after I rang the number from the White Pages and sure enough I had the right family. I now know that the medals were stolen a couple of years ago. Also with Edwards' medals were two others named to W Flynn. These medals are from Marjorie's side of the family. The last item which I thought would be of interest is a letter to Edwards from General Blamey congratulating him on being awarded the CBE.
Many thanks to Drew for going to significant effort to ensuring that the medals were returned to Brigadier Edwards' family.
The returned medal tally is now 1375.

Update - 30 Nov 13
I recently spent a wonderful hour with BRIG Edward's daughter Meryl when she visited me to collect the medal. While she was here, Meryl showed me a portrait of Edwards and  she kindly allowed me to scan it  and post it here.

09 November 2013

A broken group brought back together

This is a pretty complicated story and a testament to Bill’s patience. The end result is that four medals were actually lost to the veteran’s son but Bill’s advice bought a broken group back together. To top it off, Bill was able to arrange for the issue of three other medals that had not been awarded. The following is Bill journey through this search. The returned medal tally is now 1356.

We’ve lost Dad’s medals, well some of them, can you help us find them?
This is a question that I get asked almost monthly, and try as I might, people never seem satisfied, as I know I wouldn’t to be told, that they are asking an almost impossibility.
Had David not been a family friend and an ex-serviceman, with an understanding of where we were going and how difficult the journey would be, I do not think that I would have even begun to think that together, we could do anything. Nor be as successful as we have been.
The first part was simple: what medals did David and his mother have?
  • 1939-1945 Star, but not engraved
  • Pacific Star
  • 1939-45 War Medal, and
  • 1939-1945 Australian Service Medal
The next question: did David or his family, have any of his father’s discharge papers?
Fortunately, David’s father had been very careful to keep all his documents.
It was from these that we learned he was eligible for:
  • 1939-1945 Star
    Pacific Star
  • War Medal 1939-45
  • Australian Service Medal 1939-45
  • Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 Clasp Vietnam
  • Vietnam Medal
  • Defence Force Service Medal with 1/2and 3rd Clasp
  • National Medal with 1st Clasp
  • Australian Defence Medal
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
  • Vietnamese Campaign Medal, as well as the,
  • Emblem of the US Meritorious Unit Commendation,
  • Emblem of the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm
So where were they?
The first question was: did his father ever get the medals in the first place? On Dave’s behalf, but with his details and signature on the form, I submitted an application for the posthumous issue of any medals his father had failed to claim.
After quite some time an excited David contacted me to tell me that he had just received his father’s: 
  • AASM 1945-75, with Clasp Vietnam,
  • Defence Force Service Medal with 1/2and 3rd Clasp, and the
  • Australian Defence Medal
So that now reduced the total missing to five.
Now came the part that I refuse to enter into, and I will leave it to your own imagination as to why. Having put together a family tree and related timeline, I wrote a series of questions for Dave to ask individual members of his family. Over quite some time this research slowly bought to light the missing: 
  • National Medal with 1st Clasp
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, and the
  • Vietnam Medal 
However, the following still eluded us both:
  • Vietnamese Campaign Medal,
  • The Emblem of the US Meritorious Unit Commendation,
  • The Emblem of the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm
To complete the set, Dave followed my advice to purchase a replica of the missing Vietnamese Campaign Medal, and mount it with the others. That by doing so there was less chance that the medals would again be split up, as there was no guarantee that we could ever pull the set back together.
So how did the medals all look, see for yourself.
Would I do it again? I know Dave would in an instant say yes. Me, I don’t know.

01 November 2013

Murray MacAlister

For the amount of research that has gone in to this search there isn't a lot to actually tell. I've spent over six hours in total researching this soldier and the end result is one of the most satisfying I can remember.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Len B of Dee Why. Len is a Vietnam War veteran and found in his father's effects the medals awarded to NX135958 Murray John MacAlister. Len knew Murray and was able to provide me a few details about him.
Murray is often referred to in official records as John Murray so once I had sorted that out I could follow him quite easily. He joined the Army prior to WWII and was still serving in 1963. His medals show his WWII service and his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. After WWII Murray moved to the newly formed Australian Regular Army. His regimental number of 2712 shows he was an early member. His Long Service and Good Conduct Medal is hand engraved and has ARA after his name.
While it was easy to follow Murray's life it was very difficult to unravel his family and that is were the effort went. Murray married twice. Firstly in 1942 and then again in 1948. He did not have any children from either marriage. Murray's second wife, Jean, was also on her second marriage. Jean's first husband left her to marry one of her sisters.
It was through Jean's brother that I found a family member. There are several other family complications that don't add to the story so I'll leave it at that. I will add that I've had a wonderful email and phone conversation with Tim who is Murray's great nephew. Thanks to Len who handed me the medals when I met him at the AWM on Monday.
The returned medal tally is now 1352.

22 October 2013

Egypt Medal awarded in 1885

The sending of a contingent by the NSW colony to Sudan in 1885 is considered as Australia's first military commitment. The need to send troops to Sudan was in response to the death of General Gordon, however, the NSW Infantry Contingent arrived to late to participate in any major action. The contingent was awarded the Egypt Medal with the clasp Suakin 1885 and the Khedive's Star. Considering that the medals were awarded 128 years ago I never thought that one would come my way.
Several weeks ago I received the Sudan 1885 pair awarded to 18 Private Frederick Long. Even though the medal in engraved with NSW infantry, Long was a member of the Ambulance Corps. I was able to confirm Long's service through several sources but there was no information available about him. For close to a week I was stuck so I started putting all sorts of search options in to Trove. One string of word was 'Long Sudan Contingent' and to my surprise I got a hit. I then found the following Return Thanks notice.

The notice thanks the members of the Sudan Contingent for their sympathies of Fred Long. I had my man but not the name of his wife. I then went back through the previous weeks funeral notices and found Long's funeral notice.
Finally I had Long's wife's name - Elizabeth. The other bit of key information was that Long's full name was Joseph Frederick.. Using this information I was able to confirm their marriage and that Fred and Elizabeth didn't have children.
The marriage records provided Elizabeth's maiden name and parents names. Using this new information I found that she had 9 siblings. Several, like her twin sister died as an infant and others didn't marry.
Elizabeth's youngest brother, Charles, married Matilda Hall. From Charles death notice I found his children s names including that of Linda Pavey. I was stuck there for a bit until I workout that Linda was Belinda Ingram. From there, thanks to the electoral rolls it didn't take long to track down the current generation and I have now spoken to Fred's great nephew, Warren, and great niece, Annette. I'll be returning the medals to Annette in the near future.
I showed the medals to a real expert of this particular era and he pointed out the the medal is missing the Suakin clasp and that the Kedhive's Star is not an original. The good news is that the Egypt medal is 100% correct. Thank you very much to Lee and Fiona M who sent the medals to me. The returned medal tally is now 1340.

20 October 2013

Bradney post update number 2

Norma has very kindly provided me a picture of a cross that was found on Raymond Wildman's body when it was recovered. The picture has been added to the Bradney family story.

13 October 2013

Bradney post update

I have been provided some fantastic additional information about the Bradney family which I've added to the post. There is also a photo of the headstone erected at Reginald Wildman/Bradney's grave after his remains were identified in 2010.

11 October 2013

Medals lost where they are supposed to be.

This is the story of a group of Vietnam War medals that became lost in the RSL bureaucracy but thanks to Bill research the mystery has been resolved. The returned medal tally is now 1338. Here is Bill’s story.  

Those of you who follow this blog will recall the Robson/Lethlean story, and the question I started it with: “When is a medal lost?” To that perhaps should I now add another question. “When is a medal found?”
The story below fits both questions it also falls into that category that Glyn and I call “Hmm.” That, you will remember is the category of no names, and no places. An old soldier would no doubt add “and no pack drill”.
In some ways this is another Albert RN.
It started with the request to ANZAC House by the Memorabilia Officer of an RSL to help return several medals that had been left at reception. A request that came after some considerable time of looking for the recipient but with no luck.
And at this point the story ends, because I can’t really write it. Why?
Well after even more time and several Interstate as well as Intrastate, phone calls. I found myself talking to the wife of the medal recipient. A surprised wife at that. And why?
Well in 2007 just before her husband passed away, he asked her that on his passing to give his medals, to his local RSL Sub-Branch, and this she did.
Unfortunately, it appears that the paperwork associated with the gift was never completed.
Recently (ANZAC Day) his daughter borrowed the medals from the RSL Sub-Branch for her son to take to school for show and tell.
After which they returned them to the reception at the RSL Sub-Branch. Then they were lost within the RSL.

The Bradney family

This post is about the medals of the three Bradney brothers who served during WWI. The story also gets more interesting with a nephew being one of the soldiers identified in 2010 as being buried in the mass grave at Fromelles.
The story starts with the arrive of 7 WWI medals in my mail box.
 From there a remarkable family history has emerged. I am very grateful to Norma S who is the great niece of the Bradney brothers and has provided me a wealth of information and family photos. The Bradney's are directly descended from convicts but that part of the family history is one that I hope Norma can tell in full one day. So now to the Bradney brothers.

John Bradney first served the colony of NSW in the Boer War as a member of the  NSW Imperial Bushman. At aged 42 John enlisted in the AIF and was allocated to the 56th Battalion, AIF. John was declared killed in action on 9 Oct 17 and is commemorated at Villers-Bretonneux Cemetery.

 Wentworth Edward Bradney was 32 when he enlisted in to 54th Battalion AIF. He was killed in action on 24 September 1917. Wentworth is commemorated at Menin Gate.
Donald Walter Bradney was 26 when he enlisted in to 30th Battalion, AIF. Donald survived the war and died in 1955.

Another member of the Bradney family also served. This was Reginald Raymond Wildman, the nephew of the Bradney brothers. Reg was a Bradney and initially allocate to 1st Battalion but later transferred to 54th Battalion. Reg took part in the Battle of Fromelles and reported mission in action before being declared KIA on 19 July 1916. Reg's remains were not found. That would all change after the discover of a mass grave in 2006 based on the research of Lambis Englezos. Following extensive research and DNA testing many of the bodies in the grave have been identified. This included the remains of Reg. Norma provided the DNA sample. My friends Tim Lycett and Sandra Playle have also played a big part in the research of these soldiers and recently published a book about it called Fromelles: the Final Chapters.
Photo added 13 Oct 13

My sincere thanks go to Renn M who sent me the medals and to Norma for all the information and pictures that she has allowed me to reproduce. The returned medal tally is now 1334.

Post update 13 Oct 13
I am very grateful to Norma who has provided me a 1891 newspaper article about the Bradney family and biographical details of the soldiers in this story.

Photo added 20 Oct 13  This cross was found on the body of Reginald Raymond Wildman.

2376  Private John Bradney
56th Battalion AIF
Born June, 1874 at Gundaroo, NSW
Died 2-4-1917 at Louverval Village, France
His name appears on the Memorial Panel 161, 26 Villers Bretonneux, France.
Son of John and Catherine Bradney of Gundaroo, NSW. The family later moved to Wagga Wagga NSW.
John Bradney Jnr. was born at Gundaroo NSW and was privately tutored at home. According to his sister, Emily, "he understood all kinds of machinery and farming". He went to the Boer War as a Riverina Scout Recruit with the Hon. Rupert Carington Force shortly before the end of that conflict. In 1907 he received a Soldier Settlement Grant, No. 1907.33 to purchase 'Gobbagombalin', Farm No. 150 in the Parish of Cottee near Wagga Wagga. He subsequently enlisted for WW1, at Wagga Wagga NSW on 9th April, 1916 and was killed in France during the campaign which pushed the German troops back to the Hindenburg Line (known as the Siegfried Line). John's brother Wentworth was killed at Glengorse Wood in Northern France whilst serving with the 54th Battalion and his brother Donald was severely wounded in 1918. His nephew, for whom he was guardian, Reginald Raymond Bradney/Wildman was also killed in France, at Fromelles, with the 54th Battalion on 20th July, 1916 and was identified and re-interred in the new Fromelles Cemetery in 2010.

1620 Wentworth Edward Bradney 
54th Bn AIF
Born 1883 KIA 24 Sep 17 memorialised at Menin Gate, panel 158.
Son of John and Catherine Bradney. Wentworth was the twin brother of Mabel Ademia Bradney. He enlisted at Wagga Wagga on 22-11-1915 and joined the Kangaroo March
to Sydney, 315 miles away. He was taken into the 'B' Company of the AIF at Goulburn, embarked on the 'Ceramic' at Sydney with the 2/55th Battalion and was transferred to the  54th Battalion, the same Battalion as his nephew Reginald Raymond Bradney/Wildman,
who had enlisted on 31-12-1914 and who saw action at Gallipoli. They both served in Nth. Africa and then in France where they both died. His brother John also served in France with the 56th Battalion and was killed at Villers Bretonneux but his brother
Donald Walter Bradney of the 14th Howitzer Unit survived and returned to Australia as an invalid

846 Gunner/Driver Bradney, Donald Walter
Born 1888 Wagga Wagga, NSW - Died 1955 Gosford, NSW
Son of John And Catherine Bradney.   
On 22nd July, 1915 Donald Bradney enlisted as Gunner/Driver
in the Australian Howitzer Battery of the 14th Field Artillery Brigade. He was 26 years and 8 mths old when he enlisted at Liverpool and was described as being 5'3", weighing 168 lbs
with a chest measurement of 38", with fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. At that time he was a farm labourer working on the family farm. After training in England and Egypt he left for France on 26th March, 1917 and was gassed, on 8th August, 1918, in France and returned to England. On 9th December, 1918 he was returned to Australia aboard the 'Argyllshire' with a wasted left leg.
Of three sons and one grandson of John and Catherine Bradney he was the only one to return to Wagga Wagga where he was still living in 1943. His last known address was Stewart Street, Killcare, NSW in 1954 where he lived with his long-time partner Ellen.

1888 Private Reginald Raymond Wildman                      
54th Battalion 2nd A.I.F                                                           
Born 14th April,1896 at Keiraville (Kiama) NSW
KIA Battle of Fleurbaix, Fromelles, 20th July, 1916
Son of Auriol Agnes Bradney
Reginald's early years were spent with his mother's relatives, the Wildman family of Kiama district and he took their name. Later he was living with his Guardian and Uncle John Bradney at the family farm, Hevington, near Coolamon, NSW. When he joined the Army Cadets he was advised to enlist under the name he was known by i.e. Wildman. Therefore when he attested for the Rein 2nd Battalion on 30th December, 1914 he did so as Reginald Raymond Wildman and was enlisted as Private No. 1888 in the 2nd Battalion AIF on 2nd January, 1915 and took part in the Gallipoli landing on 25th April, 1915. He was transferred to the 54th Battalion on 14th February, 1916 and was sent to Egypt, about May, 1916, according to his mother's information. Reg signed his enlistment paper as 'R. Wildman' and his attestation paper as 'Regenal Ramon Wildman'. He named his uncle John Bradney as his next-of-kin. John Bradney enlisted on 9th April, 1916 and was also killed in action in France in 1917. Reg's death was registered as Reginald Raymond Wildman. He was killed in action near Pozieres, in what the British called the Battle of Fleurbaix, on the morning of 20th July, 1916. His name is amongst those on the Memorial at VC Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, Nord Grave/Panel No. 11. In 2010 He was re-interred, with others from the original mass grave, in the new Fromelles Military Cemetery - Plot 3, Row A, Grave 4, having been formally identified when his DNA was matched to that of his niece, Norma Staber, daughter of his sister Alice Rock, nee Jones.
There appears to have been contact between Reg. and his birth mother, Auriol Agnes Bradney, over the years as part of his schooling was done at Kittigra Public School, near Coolamon. He lived for some time at Coolamon and was working there at the time of his enlistment. He wrote to her whilst on active service and she received the notification when he was killed in action. Reg's uncle, Wentworth Edward Bradney (b.1883), transferred from the 55th Battalion to the 54th Battalion on 16th June, 1916 and appears to have been in North Africa when Reg. was lost, but he himself was killed in Glengorse Wood in Northern France or Belgium.
Three of the sons of John and Catherine Bradney of Wagga Wagga and one grandson enlisted with the Army and only one son, Donald Walter Bradney, returned home, gassed and lamed but he did return. John Bradney Snr. died on 1st February, 1916 at the age of 71. His wife Catherine had died in 1908, aged 56 years.
A portrait in oils, of Reginald was still in the possession of Auriol's daughter, Alice Rock (nee Jones) at the time of her death and was bequeathed to her daughter, Norma Staber. His Anzac Medallion was passed on to Norma by her cousin Alan Hayes' widow, Dot Hayes, in 2001 when she learnt of Norma's interest in his history.

The Bradney Family of Wagga Wagga
John Bradney was born in 1844 at Jamberoo NSW, the first of ten children of John Bradney and Ademia Henry. John Bradney Snr. also had eleven children with Anna Louise (Anne) Pugh Nicholls, whom he married six years after the death of Ademia. He and Anne already had nine children before their marriage with their tenth child being born the day after that event. Their eleventh child was born in the following year.
Catherine Bradney (nee Brownlow) was born in 1851 at Gundaroo, the daughter of George Moore Brownlow and Mary Ann Brownlow (nee Guise). After the deaths of both of her parents in 1855 Catherine and her sister Eliza were raised by their mother's sister and her husband, Henry and Elizabeth Lintott of 'Woodbury', Gundaroo and Wagga Wagga.
Catherine died in the Belmore Nursing Home in Wagga Wagga in 1908 and was interred at Wagga Wagga Cemetery.
John died at Coolamon on 1st February, 1916 and was also interred at Wagga Wagga Cemetery, whilst two of his sons, Wentworth Edward and Donald Walter were away at war. His eldest son, John, enlisted on 9th April, 1916, apparently leaving his youngest brother, Hevington, to run the family farm, which is probably why Hevington didn't enlist. The farm was called, at that time,' Hevington'. John's grandson, Reginald Raymond Bradney/Wildman, was the first from the farm to join the Army, having attested on 30-12-1914
at the age of eighteen and enlisting with the 2nd Battalion AIF on 2nd January, 1915 and was transferred to the 54th Battalion on 14th February, 1916, just two weeks after the death of his grandfather.
The children of John and Catherine were:-
Emily                            born  1870 at Gundagai
John                             born  1874 at Gundaroo
Auriol                           born  1878 at Narrandera
Elizabeth (Bessie)         born  1880 at Narrandera
Wentworth Edward      born  1883 at Wagga Wagga (twin)
Mabel Ademia              born  1883 at Wagga Wagga (twin)
Melville Henry  born  1885 at Wagga Wagga
Donald Walter              born  1888 at Wagga Wagga
William George born  1891 at Wagga Wagga -  died 1892
Hevington David           born  1892 at Wagga Wagga
Ida Maud                     born  1896 at Wagga Wagga 

The males of this family were all handsome men and the girls were very attractive. Emily was still attractive at the time of her last marriage (her fourth) when she was 75 years of age. She was not married to the husband of her first child, Albert Ernest Bradney, who was born at Kiama in the Wollongong District where the other branch of the family lived. There is no record of Albert having lived in Wagga Wagga but when he died in 1943 at Jerilderie his name was unchanged. Emily was married three times at Wagga Wagga and lastly at Petersham in Sydney. The two children of her first marriage both died in infancy and she had none with her later husbands.
It has been reported that there are still members of the McKenzie family in Wagga Wagga but it is not known whether or not they are descended from Mabel Bradney and Hugh McKenzie who were married in Wagga Wagga in 1904.
This information is provided by Mrs. Norma Staber, great-granddaughter of John and Catherine Bradney from the family photo album, family records and letters as well as WW1 War Records.

Wagga Wagga Advertiser Thursday 6 August 1891
A Day at "Sunnyside."

MIDWAY between Wagga and Upper Tarcutta, and about three miles north-west of the Borarabola Homestead, may be seen Mr. John Bradney's most appropriately named property "Sunnyside." The commodious residence standing on a mild elevation slightly to the West, and in sight of the
road, catches old 'Sol's earliest beam. A young and spacious orchard already productive, gives healthy promise of fruitful results. Mr. Bradney, who is a most genial host, possesses it addition to other numerous comforts a good earnest helpmate and nine children-five boys
and four daughters (one of the latter being married). He originally lived at Gunderoo, journeying thence to the plains, he subsequently anchored at " Sunnyside," where he has resided for eight years. He owes his success purely to his enterprise, and thrift two qualifications which combine in perfect harmony with energy, and a sound, practical  knowledge of all the affairs appertaining to the skilful management of a farm. Mr. B. is regarded as an authority. He knows the difference between a horse and a cow, and when he harnesses his ploughing team the collar and, bames go on together. His property embraces an area of 1400 acres, 188 of which is cultivated under cereals, oats and wheat the
yield of the latter last year amounting to 800 bushels about, the grain, being- rather pinched in consequence of rust which is the chief opponent to the success of all farmers. Mr. B. considers that there is no officious preventative of this trouble, but by sowing early, about April, the danger is greatly minimised. The hay crop of last season was about 150 tons, the wheat is disposed of locally, but the hay is dispatched to the metropolis, where there is ever a fair demand for good wholesome stuff; Mr.B. finds, on the whole, that it is more remunerative to pay the additional expenses incurred in transit to Sydney than to sell it at Wagga, where the consumption at present is inadequate to
insure an expeditious and payable sale. In the yard I noticed two large waggons burdened with about 6 and a 1/2 tons each ready to start for Wagga, to be sent thence to Messrs. Heaton Bros., Sydney. Farming on a cramped scale never pays, and with the lapse of the past decade hard labor has been so entirely superseded by the operation of mechanical implements that the hand reaper, mower, binder, etc. is becoming a personage of little utility-a "wasty product." Mr. Bradney's farm is replete with every mechanical aid, and he assures me that he would strongly advise every farmer to avail himself of the advantages of machinery as there undoubtedly are enormous dividends to be derived from
them in the shape of labor saved and time saved. "Time is money," and therefore time saved is money saves. " Q.E D." To begin with, Mr. B. has three double furrow ploughs (two Hudson Bros, and one Lennon), £26 each one six-furrow paring plough (Hudson Bros.) 20 pound 10s. With the
latter six horses are used and a fair day's effort turns over six acres. Before ploughing, the land is thoroughly cleared of weeds or other growths by the admittance of sheep, then the seed is sown, and the ploughing commences, much time being saved, and another important advantage as well is obtained by this mode of procedure.  The grain, being deeper, germinates and becomes very strongly established in root 'ere it arrives at the surface, and then the attacks of the birds, usually so fatal, become of little moment, the stalks become strong and sturdy however assaulted by the winged assailants, so much for the ploughs. Mr. B. uses steel, oval tined zig-zag harrows, which be finds
more penetrating and durable. With the 16ft. harrow four horses are worked, and three with the 12ft harrow. The sowing is performed by a Martin's seed sower, capable of sowing fully 12 acres an hour. Mr.B. uses two reaper and binders, one is an Osborne the other a McCormack, the latter is simpler and being a later and more improved machine does better work. The cost of these landed was £70 each. A Robinson stripper and winnower has been obtained from Melbourne at a cost of £92 10s and
does its part here. I next came to the engine (a six horse Marshall) which drives a Buncles travelling chaff-cutter. This engine is built especially for the work assigned it and for use in the colonies. The fire box is sufficiently large to admit a log 3ft. 6in. And the exhaust steam delivers into the tub and is re-delivered into the boiler which helps to maintain the heat, and consequently less fuel is requited to
maintain the required pressure (about 60lbs.) It was obtained from Messrs. McLean Bros., and Rigg, through Lorimer and Co., Wagga, and gave Mr. Bradney every satisfaction, as did likewise Messrs. Edmondson and Co., through whom the Chaff-cutter was obtained.  Bradney speaks in glowing terms of his agents, who, he says, performed his business with the greatest of fairness and expediency. The chaff-cutter (£260), one of Buncos best, is fitted with every necessary contrivance and works splendidly, all the tailings are redelivered into the feed box, all waste being thus obivate. It is capable of cutting 2/12 tons per hour, and the length of the chaff can be regulated to a nicety. The bagger keeps two men actively employed, one adjusting the bags, the other sewing them up, with care a hundredweight can be got into a bag, but the average is about 85 or 90 lbs. Mr. Bradney speaks in high terms of the capacity of the machine and when I asked him where it was made he slyly remarked "in Melbourne they don't make them in 'Freetrade' Sydney, it doesn't pay,"-Mr. Bradney is a Protectionist, as most farmers and producers are. While Mr. B. and his aids were engaged in getting the machine into motion, Mr. Charles Archer had a most miraculous escape
from death. He had mounted the boiler to adjust the belt, and in order to get it on to the wheel, he turned the latter. Immediately the engine started (it appears the valve was slightly open), and poor Archer was soon in among the governors, piston-rode eccentric, and fly wheel. I stood within three feet of him almost paralysed. I could do nothing. The engine driver (Master J. Bradney),
immediately ran up and stopped the engine, but the weight of the large wheel maintained the motion for a time, and when at length we lifted Archer from his perilous position he was as white as a sheet, and bruised badly, his body also showing abrasion but he was alive, and therein lies the wonder had he moved his feet out of the horizontal, or relaxed his hold for a moment, he was lost. I hope to hear of his speedy recovery from the severe shock and bruising.
Gently the mandoline,
Our tenure of life is uncertain,
For truly we never know when
Like a streak in the west we may vanish,
And fade from the vision of men.
Mr. Bradney owns 1200 breeding sheep and about: 50 head of cattle, in addition to numerous horses and other livestock. His yield of wheat varies from 25 to 40 bushels per acre, according to the peculiarities of the season or prevalence of rust, etc. Hares are unpleasantly numerous, doing considerable damage to the crop. When I visit Sunnyside again I shall take my " iron" and a full belt of cartridges. The education of Mr Bradney's little ones is entrusted to Mr. T. F. Mason, and they are in most efficient hands.