05 June 2013

Renwick Harper

When I received the medals awarded to 735 Renwick Harper I immediately thought that with such a distinctive first name the search might be straight forward. But the more I dug in to the life of Renwick the more difficult the search and the murkier the story became. (If the link to the service record drops out this tutorial will show you how to access service records).
It turned out that his full name is Renwick Joseph Hutton Harper. He was born in South Australia in 1890 and as I have mentioned before the South Australian records are difficult to access. However, I then discovered a gold mine of information in the newspaper records held online at Trove. More of that later.
Renwick served with the 1st Remount Unit (1 RMT UNIT) which was a reasonable small unit and medals awarded to members are scarce. He was awarded the WWI trio of medals for service during WWI. The unit it named differently on the Victory Medal - 1ARU for 1st Australian Remount Unit.

So back to what I discovered in Trove. Renwick was a petty criminal. In 1914 he was arrested for assault and robbery. This article summarises the crime.
 Source: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88846062

 Renwick's service record shows that his conduct while in the Army was good but once he returned to Australia he was prosecuted for selling surplus military equipment without authorisation.

Source: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45521194

Trove has several more articles about the prosecution of both of these crimes. In the 1920s or 30s Renwick left South Australia and led an itinerant life. He very rarely surfaces in the records except for two notable occasions. He was listed as living at the Queanbeyan Camping Ground which is a less than 20km from where I live. He was also accused in NSW of assult that resulted in a man dying but there was a lack of evidence.
Renwick returned to South Australia and died in 1959. I highly suspect that he sold his medals at some time and it is amazing that the trio remained together for all these years.
Thank you to Andrea C again who sent me the medals along with the Hoskin medals after seeing the ACA show on Anzac Day. I look forward to sending this group to the family in the near future. The returned medal tally is now 1284.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Glyn and Andrea :)