Two months ago I was contacted by Philippe Clerbout from a research group in France. Philippe told me that one of his members had found a WWI dog tag issued to an Australian soldier and they were hopeful to return it to the family. Philippe had contacted some other groups and the ABC.
The dog tag was worn by 827 Cyril Michael McCarthy who served with 33rd Battalion, AIF. Using the service record, the electoral rolls and death notices I put together a family tree for Cyril. I knew that Cyril died in 1979, that he had three sons, six grand children and numerous great grand children. Unfortunately, as McCarthy is a reasonably common name, I just couldn't work out who the current generation was from the White Pages and other resources.
As a result of Philippe's contact with the ABC, they were keen to do a story. So with journalist Jennifer King I put together a story which was published on ABC online yesterday. Since then social media has gone wild. I've had several hundred emails many of which confirmed the information I already had. However, one email provided the key.
In the past I mave put links to the Australian Surname Group who we have a wonderful relationship with. One of the senior researchers, Sue H, took the McCarthy research the next step which I couldn't and provided a clue through the White Pages. Sue was spot on and minutes later I was talking to Cyril's grand son Bernard.
I've also let Philippe know the result and we will arrange for the medal to be sent shortly. Bernard tells me that he has Cyril's British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The returned medals tally is now 1303.