30 January 2013

Theodore Keegan

I received the WWII War Medal and Australian Service Medal awarded to QX53670 Theodore Joseph Keegan 1939-45 from Darrel H of the Boulder RSL (WA). This was a little confusing as all the records I could find indicated that Theodore lived in Queensland. I lost track of him in 1963 when he disappeared off the records I could access.
John D who was so successful with the Sergent search also resolved this search and was able to provide me with the name of Theodore's son. I rang Mr Keegan today and confirmed we had the right family and sure enough John's information was spot on. I also learnt that Theodore lived in WA for a period which explains how his medals got there.
The returned medal tally is now 1247.

26 January 2013

Norman Price

The WWI service of 4565 Norman Robert Price seems to be fairly typical based on his service record. He was hospitalised on several occasions, went AWOL on several occasions and spent time in France and England. As per usual the service record doesn't give much indication about where Norman fought but as a member of the 2nd Battalion, AIF, Norman would have been involved in action around Ypers.
What I find interesting from his service record is the correspondence from the mid 1940s where Norman is requestion replacement medals and record of service which were lost. The medal I have is the original Victory Medal that Norman was awarded not a duplicate he would have received much later.
I lost track of Norman around 1946 so I then had to start tracking other family members which included Percy Price who was a POW during WWII. I ran out of leads when the online electoral rolls stop at 1980 so as a last ditch effort I placed a request in the Daily Telegraph In Search column and I have now been contacted by the Price family. Normans Victory Medal will soon me returned to Percy's son.
This medal is from the NSW RSL box and the returned medal tally is now 1245.

25 January 2013

Welcome home certificate

This is another non medal return but an important piece of a families history none the less.
During WWI many communities established patriotic funds so that local soldiers could receive presentation items like fobs and comfort packages with clothing and food items. The practice wasn't as widespread and as well organised during WWII but some communities did make an effort to acknowledge the contirbution for their soldiers.
This certificate was presented to Leonard Keith Fountain by the District of Palmer. I have recently been in touch with a relative of Len and will post her the certificate in the near future.
My friend Sandra came across this and sent it to me along with the dog tags issued to Hugh MacGlashan.

24 January 2013

Another case resolved for the Victoian Police

I was recently contacted by a Detective in Warrnambool, Victoria who had a group of five contemporary Australian medals that were found locally. The Detective wasn't sure if they were the proceeds of a crime or not so he held on to the medals while I looked for the veteran.
This morning I was able to provide the Warrnambool Detectives with the phone number of a young soldier so that his medals can be returned.
The returned medal tally is now 1244.

23 January 2013

Evelyn Spradbery

This is another return that has taken many years of research to bring to a conclusion
I received the Imperial Service Medal awarded to Evelyn Bessie Spradbery in 2006 from Jackie E at Australia Post. A little bit of searching gave us the basics; Evelyn's husband name, the London Gazette entry for the award and her date of death in 1991. It took a little more effort to determine that Evelyn and her husband had a daughter by the name of Gwendoline J Spradbery. That led us down one path of enquiry. After much effort we established that Gwendoline married Brian A Spence. Then the trail went cold.
During my research I even wrote a letter to the local paper and council where Evelyn lived. I did not receive a response from either organisation and I doubt very much that the letter was published. I even went as far as to post a story on this blog in 2011 in the hope that someone might do a search of Evelyn's name and come across my entry.
Several of our researchers have also spent considerable effort looking for Gwendoline, particularly Morris C. All up many hours of research have put together some very thin leads. Last week I decided to revisit this case. I stumbled across an online phone book entry for Gwendoline and Brian living in Kendal, UK. The website didn't provide an address or phone number so I had to think of a different method of attack. I then turned to Brian's name. This led me to come across a 2011 council planning committee document that had recently been posted on line. The council in question was the very one I had written to in 2006.
What this document gave me was the subject of the planning application which in turn led me to other documents that opened up more clues. I learnt that Mrs G Spence was the local coordinator of blue badges for handicapped parking. A letter to the editor of the local paper about this subject gave me the best led yet. Gwendoline goes by the name Gussie. Oh, the paper that Gussie's letter was in was the same one I had also written to in 2006.
Once I had Gussie's name I found another obscure reference to her which included a mobile phone number from 2005. On a hunch I rang that number tonight and within seconds was talking to Gussie. We had a wonderful conversation and I am so pleased that all this effort by countless people has come to such a successful conclusion.
The returned medal tally is now 1239.


21 January 2013

Stewart Sergent

This has been one of those searches that has taken several researches many hundred of hours to finally come to a successful conclusion.
I first received the WWII medals awarded to QX15327 Stewart Raymond Sergent in March 2005. They were sent to me by the Emu Park RSL sub-branch in Queensland. Stewart proved to be very elusive to locate as he had two marriages and children from both of them. His children were all female so we had the added complication of trying to find there married names, if indeed they had married.
After some very detailed research, John D finally managed to crack the code and follow the family path to Stewart's daughter, Dulcie. I am very grateful to John for his persistence with this one. Finally success after almost eight years.
I do have a tinge of disappointment. From September 2006 until July 2008 when I was last posted to Townsville, I worked about 1 km from Dulcie's house.
The returned medal tally is now 1238

19 January 2013

Research support to the Police

On occasion we have to be a little judicious with the information that we publish on this blog. There are any number of reason for this. For example a family might provide me information that is sensitive and doesn't add anything to the story.
Bill and I also provide advise to several state police forces when they recover medals. In certain circumstances the details about the source of the medals is not provided to us due to pending legal action or identifiable privacy requirements. Notwithstanding, Bill and I will conduct what research we can and pass that information to the respective police officer.
We have recently received feed back that one of these searches has resulted in the return of a group of WWI medals to the family. The returned medal tally is now 1232.

16 January 2013

Marcus Towler

This return is of a WWI dog tag. Unlike the dog tags of today which are made of metal, the WWI version were made of a fibreboard materiel similar to cardboard. As a result they deteriorated very quickly, especially when wet.
This particular dog tag was issued to Captain Towler of the Cyclist Battalion. Not much information to go on. By searching the UK Medal Index Cards (MIC) there was only one person who fit the bill. The MIC are sometimes disappointing due to the lack of information on them but in this case it proved to be a gold mine. From the MIC I found Towler's full name was Marcus Albert and he was later promoted to the rank of Major. His full medal entitlement was the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The MIC even notes that he had to apply for his 1914-15 Star and confirmation of the award. To my even greater surprise I found a second MIC stating that Marcus was Mentioned in Despatches.
Based on the information from the MIC it didn't take me long to locate Marcus on the Australian electoral rolls. By following him over many years I also was able to establish the names of his children.
What confused me a little was that Marcus was on the 1914 electoral roll but enlisted in the British Army in 1915. It wasn't unheard of for men who were born in England to return there after emigrating to enlist. However, the 1914 entry did make me question my research logic. I have since spoken to Marcus' family and I know more of his story.
Marcus emigrated to Australia around 1911 and settled in Melbourne. He spent a short amount of time in WA ring barking trees for land clearing but succumbed to barcoo rot. At the outbreak of WWI Marcus return to England and was commissioned in to the Army Cycle Corps. After WWI Marcus returned to Australia and became a successful business man working for a Japanese company. Every this went well until the outbreak of WWII and Marcus found himself without a job. He was then appointed as a Captain in the 2nd AIF as a recruiting officer. In addition to his WWI medals Marcus would also have been awarded the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45.
The dog tag was sent to me by my friend Sandra. All up the search took about 20 minutes and I learnt some new things on the way, a very satisfying result.

15 January 2013

Robert Elphinstone

This search was quite confusing as Robert enlisted on three separate occasions for service during WWII. Twice he enlisted in the Army and once in the Merchant Marine. Each enlistment has a bit of information different to the last which took a little time to unravel. Robert gave different birth dates on two occasions and these didn't marry up with other records.
After the war all reference to Robert disappeared except for a 1957 court listing which didn't help much. The only other firm piece of information I had was his mother's first name. It was the mention of this name in another new paper article relating to a court case in 1936 which provided me with her husband's name. However, through these links I was able to contact a relative of Robert's who I will soon post the medal to.
It was very difficult to get a good photo of the naming on Robert's Australian Service Medal. It appears to be laser engraved rather than impressed, similar to the medals issued today. The medal came to me from the NSW RSL and they have had it since 1999. Laser engraving was only introduced shortly prior to this so I'm a little confused as to when this medal would have been issued to Robert.
The returned medal tally is now 1225.

07 January 2013

Cornelius Haskell

This is one of those searches which I wished happened more often. This afternoon I had a case referred to my by the WA RSL. The WWII War Medal awarded to F3622 Cornelius Lawrence Haskell (known as Laurie) had been found in a Perth suburban garden. A quick check of the electoral rolls showed that Mr Haskell had lived very close to where the medal was found. The electoral roll also gave me the name of Mr Haskill's son. A quick check of the White Pages provided me with the phone number of Mr Haskill's son and within three minutes of receiving the initial request for help I was talking to a member of the Haskell family (sorry Bill).
A broader check of Mr Haskell's service shows that he was Mentioned in Despatches during his service with the RAN.
Thank you to Sean M who found the medal and wanted to see it back with the family. The returned medal tally is now 1224. 

As can be seen in the photo this medal must have been buried for many years to now be in this condition.

02 January 2013

William Wedgood

WX36084 William Henry Wedgwwod was a private with the 102 Australian Casualty Clearing Station. There is little information about this unit available but it was familiar to me. I then remembered that I had returned another set of medals to another member of this unit. This was WFX34622 Ruth Margaret Veitch who was a nurse.
Mr Wedgwood's medals were sent to me by the WA RSL. They are in almost as issued condition. The returned medal tally is now 1223.