27 April 2013

Francis Baldwin

One of the reasons we list all the medals I have is so that anyone who is researching a family name on line might stumble upon our site. This has probably happened about 20 times all up.
I had very little information on 129765 PTE Francis Baldwin, Machine Gun Corps. The only facts I had was that Francis was a British soldier, he was born in 1890 in Lancashire and his father's name was Richard. This information took considerable effort to find and I must thank the members of the British Medals Forum for their assistance. Not a lot to go on and in the 7 years since I've had this medal this is all I came up with.
Well, as a direct result of the ACA story, a viewer looked at our lost medals list and recognised Baldwin's name.
Michael is Baldwin's third cousin twice removed and with in seconds of us speaking we confirmed we were talking about the same soldier. I had suspected that Baldwin did not marry or have children. Michael was able to confirm this for me. I'll post Michael the medal in the near future.
Thank you to Tony K who sent the medal to me in 2006. Once again my sincere thanks to Brady Halls for doing the ACA story. The return is attributed to Brady. The returned medal tally is now 1271.

25 April 2013

A Current Affair

Tonight, the Channel Nine news show A Current Affair screened a story about Lost Medals Australia as part of an Anzac Day special. I am very grateful to ACA, Brady Halls and the crew for this exposure. We had a fantastic day filming last week and meeting Nick who received the WWI medals awarded to Arthur Barnes.
The ACA story is at this link.

Lieutenant John Cooper

A wonderful Anzac Day story from Bill.

Well we have found medals in boxes, tin trunks, in the roof of houses being renovated, sewing boxes, but the search for the next of kin of LT John Eugene Cooper set a new standard, and a new puzzle, as yet unanswered..
Here it started with a Baxter (Vic.) auto wreckers, where when the carpet was removed wreckers found the 1939-1945 War Medal of LT John Eugene Cooper, no other medals just the 1939-1945 War Medal. Not knowing what to do with it they approached Fred Wawrzil, the Secretary of the Euroa RSL.
Fred immediately started to look for LT Cooper, or at least his NOK, unfortunately by the time the medal came to Fred the car had been demolished, and any records lost as to its origins, however not to be put off he hit the phone, and as he tells it he believes he rang every Cooper in the Frankston, Baxter region, currently dreading the next phone bill all he can report is that there are a lot of Coopers in the phone book but to none seemed to be the one he wanted.
Finally after contacting the Victorian Branch HQ of the RSL he ended up with me, and the next phase of the search began.
It was amazing at first how much I was able to find via TROVE about John Cooper, who was not only an accomplished musician, as was his wife they played concerts all over Australia, but was one of Australia’s foremost Physiotherapists, who treated the wounded in New Guinea during World War two, and later after the war he became an accomplished Artist. But just as I thought I was getting close to the end of the search, all mention of John ceased in the newspapers (TROVE), yet War Graves had his death as occurring on the 20th March 1977, where had he gone. So now it was back almost to the beginning, as I started to map out John’s family and his siblings, Daniel, Arthur and Gilbert.
Arthur and Gilbert soon petered out, leaving me with Daniel. It was the help of Yuki, and a long slog via TROVE through The Argus newspaper that I finally found a series of references to the birth of Daniel and his wife’s children. Then it was the Electoral office, and for a pleasant change a quick search brought me to Daniel's son Jack. A quick phone call after returning home and I was speaking to Jack, what was just as important he had the phone number of John Cooper’s son, Thomas.
It was there that the search finished, but not before a long conversation, brought to the fore the reason I had not been able to find John Cooper.
“Dad” explained Thomas, “dropped using John, in 1950 he switched to using Eugene as his preferred name”.
So I went back to check my research notes only using Eugene Cooper. When I next spoke to Thomas it was to tell he was wrong, his father had been using Eugene as his preferred name before the war, he had only gone back to the John part to enlist.
When I reported back to Fred, I found myself in agreement with his lament concerning lost medals and that he wished he had known of us at Lost Medals Australia, earlier. 
Now the unanswered question, how did the medal get under the carpet? To which I can only add “Good question that”.

Lt Copper is marked as number 2 in this photo.

Lt Cooper is the third officer in from the right standing.

The returned medal tally is now 1270.

15 April 2013

Ernest David Davies

I have had a bit of difficulty with this search due to different records having the names Ernest David Davies  or David Ernest Davies. As Bill would say I had to run parallel research. Once I have narrowed done Davies through the electoral rolls I could continue to trace him through to his death in 1957.
The electoral rolls gave me the names of his children and even one grand son. However, there were too many people by the same name to narrow down who I was looking for in the White Pages. I let the search settle for a few months before revisiting Ancestry. I then found a family tree which included Davies. A message to the owner started a chain of events which put me in contact with the grand son I was looking for, Keith. I'll return the medal to him so he has them before Anzac Day
Thanks to Mike B who sent me the medals and to Steve and Geoff who put me in touch with Keith. The returned medal tally is now 1271.

Updated 8 May 2013:
Today I received a photo of Ern's son after the medals had been returned to him. Thanks to Ern's grandson for sending this to me and his kind permission to use it.

Albert Keeping

Bill has gone well and truly beyond the normal level of effort in this search so I'll let him tell the story:

The story of the search for a Next Of Kin (NOK) for AlbertErnest Keeping arose initially from a request from the NSW RSL for us at Lost Medals Australia to review their lost Medals – Other Web page. A Web page set up by the RSL so that Sub-Branches of the RSL and people who had found medals and wanted to return them, could do so without involving the State Branch directly. Complicating the issue was the fact that many of those who approached the RSL also approached the Department of Veteran Affairs, who also advertised  the medals in their newsletter. The end result is that Lost Medals now have a NSW RSL  ‘Lost Medals’ list to go with our NSW Lost Medals Box.
It has been a policy here at Lost Medals Australia for many years now that we do not undertake blind searches, we ask for the medal first before we begin. This policy grew out of problems where people who contacted us to return the medals had subsequently lost them, sold them, or as recently occurred, gave them away to a medals and stamps dealer.
However, at the request of the NSW RSL, we agreed to work with them. I would first contact the current holder of the medals, ask them if they had been able to find a NOK, and if not offer our assistance. At this point it should be noted that some of the medal notices had been on the Web page since 2003, and that after my initial review 60% of all phone numbers and 70% of all email addresses were no longer current.  
To borrow a well-known phrase ‘What’s in a name you may well ask?’ In the case of Albert that was to be one of the problems with the search for while his enlistment papers showed his name as Albert Ernest Keeping they also showed his name as Herbert Ernest Keeping, so for much of the search there was the necessity to parallel the search under both names, at least till the Herbert part could be discounted. But the confusion did not stop there. His Qld Marriage records showed he married Myrtle Rose Gillman in 1933, however, a cross check and  search for Myrtle Rose Gillman proved fruitless.
But the QLD BDM’s records combined with the help of TROVE the online newspaper data base and our friends at Yuki, bought us to his marriage and subsequent death. They also highlighted his two sons, John Blane and Robert William Keeping. And it was their service records from WW2 that brought us to Robert Keeping, the son of Robert William Keeping, the grandson of Stephen and the great nephew of Albert.
Albert and Myrtle had no children of their own, John Blain the eldest son of Stephen Keeping was lost on Air Battle Operations over the pacific in 1942. He is remembered at Krangi War Cemetery, Singapore, and on the Wall of remembrance at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
It was Robert who filled in the missing story of Myrtle, her maiden name had been Gilliane, not Gillman.
 This medal came to us from David and Irene who were not content to just let a found medal stay in a draw. A very special thanks to them.

The returned medal tally is now 1269.

14 April 2013

Arthur William Bennett

This search turned in to a pretty tricky one and it was the combined effort of some of my friends that bought it to a successful conclusion.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Sandi A who had a British War Medal awarded to 5801 Arthur William Bennett. Sandi's maiden name was Bennett but Arthur was not from her family. From the service record I quickly established that Arthur was allocated to 28th Battalion, AIF, what his parent's names were and that he died of TB in 1918. A Google search bought up a link on the Great War Forum about Arthur which was only a month old. I contacted Charles, who posted the initial enquiry, as I thought it a coincidence that two people were researching the same man at the same time. Charles told me that his interest in Arthur was: 'tracing service personnel who were born (or other wise connected to) Bristol but who had emigrated and enlisted in Dominion forces. Bennett came up as one of these but also as someone who didn't seem to be listed on the CWGC site: a non-commemoration'. How intriguing I thought.
I then sought assistance from my friends Sandra and Drew who provided me with two bits of information which were of great assistance. The first from Sandra was a link to the Wooroloo Cemetery which is near the site of the hospital where Arthur died and the second came from Drew in the form of Arthur's death notice.
It is now that things got confusing. At Woorollo Cemetery there is a memorial to an Arthur William Bonnette, But nothing for a Bennett.
However, Bonnette died on the same date as Bennett, was the same age and from the same battalion. A check of the National Archives gave a nil return for Arthur Bonnette.
The death notice gives Arthur's sister as Mrs Francis and his brother as H.C. Bennett. A search of the electoral roll revealed that Henry Charles Bennett lived at the same address given for Arthur's parents. Mrs Francis proved more difficult to find. On a hunch I searched for a notice of Bonnette and got a hit. An In Memoriam notice for 1928.

This notice gives more clues which led me to believe that Arthur Bennett and Arthur Bonnette were the same person. Additionally, I learnt that his sister was Sarah Lucy Francis. It was back to the electoral rolls and I found Sarah Lucy Francis at the same address as in the service record. The notice also mentions nieces and nephews. I then followed Henry and one of Lucy's children, but they have all died and only in recent years.
My friend Heather (Frev), a very talented researcher, located all the UK census information which confirmed it was one and the same. She also came up with a reasonable explanation as to why the name variation. She thinks that Bonnette is pronounced Bonnay but mispronounced Bonnet. So as to avoid confusion it is possible the name Bennett was used when it suited the family.
Frev also provided me the final clue which broke the case. It was the 1940 death notice for Ellen, Arthur's mother. It mentions a grand daughter, Mrs Phyllis Cherrington and a great grand son. It didn't take long to connect Mrs Cherrington to her son through the electoral rolls and yesterday, 5 minutes after I received the medal in the post I was on the phone to Arthur's great nephew.
Thank you Sandi for sending the medal to me. The returned medal tally is now 1268.

12 April 2013

Find My Past

I have been lucky enough to have had an article published on Find My Past. The story is at this link. The content is similar to the record search tutorial, however, I've added detail on other research resources.
Thanks to Emma of Find My Past for asking me to participate, this is a wonderful opportunity.

06 April 2013

Betty Dow

This search really tested me and it was only in the last hour did it unravel enough for me to connect all the dots.
In January 2012 I received a WWII group of four medals and a plaque awarded to Better Frances Dow. The medals are impressed to B3/227 B. F. Dow. The first thing that threw me was the number which does not appear in the WWII nominal roll. I called on the experts of the British Medals Forum and the answer quickly came back as one attributed to the Red Cross and this was a typical number for a philanthropic organisation. So the first door opened I found out all about Betty. She worked with the Red Cross in Batavia and later in Europe. I've found a photo of Betty which I've attached below.
Using the electoral rolls I followed Betty until 1985 when she died. Betty didn't marry. Her brother Stewart did marry but he had no children. Stewart served during WWII and I now know the wider family have strong military links. Then the trail went cold. Several attempts to revisit the search proved fruitless until tonight when I thought I should go back several generations.
I started with Betty's father, Donald, who was a Presbyterian minister. Donald was appointed as an Army chaplain late in WWI but his service record gives little away that I found useful. I couldn't establish the names of any siblings for Donald so I turned to Betty's mother, Winifred Mona Dow. It took some time to work out her maiden name but once I had it the flood gates opened.
Winifred was the daughter of another Presbyterian minister and was one of seven children. A search using the surname Reid gave me all the names of her sibling which included Stanley Spencer Reid.
Stanley was also a minister but probably more famous for his talents as an VFL footballer. He played for Fitzroy in the first VFL grand final. In 1899 Stanley volunteered to be a chaplain for the Australian contingents who fought in the Boer War. This was unsuccessful so he enlisted as a trooper with the Western Australian Mounted Infantry. While in South Africa Stanley wrote a letter that was critical of a more senior soldier and Stanley was arrested. This was soldier was also connected with the Beaker Morrant scandal. Stanley was detained and returned to Australia. The matter was not pursued and Stanley was commissioned and returned to South Africa. He was in the same unit as his brother Surgeon -Captain Francis Bentley Reid. I take it that Betty Francis and Stewart Stanley were named for these two relatives.
Stanley was wounded on two occasions and subsequently died of his wounds in June 1902. He and  Francis were both mentioned in despatches.
This wikipedia link has the full story about Stanley and several photos of him as well.
Another brother who served was Lieutenant John Cecil Drury Reid who was awarded the Military Cross. John was a member of a Tunnelling Company and died of wounds in June 1917.
Another brother was William Bremner Reid who was also a doctor and it is his daughter, Betty's cousin, who I have found and will return the medals to.
The returned medal tally is now 1267.

Betty in Batavia with the Red Cross