15 April 2013

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the Web page since 2003, and that after my initial review 60% of all phone numbers and 70% of all email addresses were no longer current.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.

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