30 September 2013

Edward Kay - WWII pair

I received the WWII War Medal and Australian Service Medal 1939-45 awarded to 54242 Edward Robert Kay from Australia Post after the medals were found loose in the mail. I found a few family trees on Ancestry.com.au and the picked the one that seemed to have the most information about Edward and had only recently been accessed. I sent a message in April but did not receive a reply.
Today I've revisited some old searches and had another look at Edward's records. I found another Ancestry tree which included Edward, however, the account hadn't been accessed for over a year so I wasn't sure if I would get a response. To my very pleasant surprise within minutes I received an email from Edward's great grand daughter telling me that the medals had been posted in March and not seen again.
The returned medal tally is now 1320.

25 September 2013

Robert Haskett - Victory Medal

We were recently contacted by Andy P of Bonnyrig Heights, NSW who had the WWI Victory Medal awarded to 4212 Robert Henry Haskett who served with 5th Battalion, AIF. Robert was wounded in action in France and I'm intrigued at his occupation on enlistment which is given as Boot Clicker. Bill and I chipped away to put the pieces together in the search for Robert’s family. Bill resolved the search today and below is the story. The returned medal tally is now 1318.  

Amongst the odd places in which medals turn up we now have recorded our  first ‘found in a bag of old coins’. In many ways the search for Robert’s next of kin, has been relatively straight forwarded, if a bit slow.
From a death notice in the Argus for Robert’s father, which gave us the names of his three children, to a long search via Trove and the NSWBDM’s that led us to Robert’s daughter, Patricia, but more importantly, her married name. The Ryerson Index then gave us her date of death and pointed us at her death notice.
It was then just a simple process of contacting the funeral directors, then the Cemetery Manager who in turn, obliged us by contacting Robert’s grandson, Kevin.
Now the remaining questions, for which there are no prizes for answering.
How long was the medal in the bag? is question that the family who discovered it cannot say. Neither can they say who may have put it there. Nor is there an answer to the last two questions. How did it get to Sydney when Robert lived in Victoria for his whole life, and where is his British War Medal?
I stopped guessing after I passed Kevin’s details to Glyn.
Thank you to Andy who forwarded us the medal and his sister whose children found it.
Also thanks to Jan who took the step of contacting Kevin on our behalf.

As the pictures show this medal has had a very hard life.

14 September 2013

Gerald White post update

The family of Gerald White has very kindly provided me with photos of Gerald in 1915 aged 19 and with his wife Irene. I have updated the original post.

12 September 2013

Harry Smith - WWI Trio

The WWI trio of medals awarded to Harry Smith was sent to me recently by John and Sue W from Knoxfield, Victoria. Along with the medals was the Anzac commemorative lapel badge and Harry's TPI card. Beyond the information in Harry's service record I could find nothing on him so I asked Bill to use his sources and see what could be dug up. This is Bill's story to locate Harry's family. The retuiened medal tally is now 1317.
The search for the family of Harry Smith started with a request from Glyn to look up and see what if anything I could find in regard to a 939 Harry Smith, 28th Battalion, A.I.F.
This was the beginning of the first headache. War Graves had no record of a Harry Smith.
Fortunately, I was able to advise War Graves, of a few more details in regard to Harry, this brought forth the amazing fact that Harry Smith, had been christened as Harry, enlisted as Harry, served and been discharged as Harry, had through some odd changes and omissions in details, been buried as Henry Smith. However, this did give me a date of death and a date to research through the Melbourne newspapers. All that could be read from the microfiche was a reference to a wife ‘Emma’. However as Harry had enlisted in Perth, using these few details in fact only one detail, a wife called Emma, I accessed the Reverse Marriage Website, and lo and behold there it was Harry Smith marrying Emma in Perth in 1918.
It would then take some time to chase down this lead until the final conclusion that I had been following the wrong Harry and Emma. So back to the BDM, CD’s and another Harry Smith this one marrying an Emma, in 1942, in Victoria. This in turn would require some research until I could prove without fail, that this was the right Harry and Emma.
Marrying late in life, Harry and Emma had no children. Eventually a long and detailed search brought me to the conclusion that if anyone was to receive Harry’s medals, then they would have to come from Emma’s family. But it couldn’t just be anyone, that someone would have to not only be willing to accept the guardianship of the medals, but also ensure that the story they represented, was passed to the next generation, along with guardianship of Harry’s medals.
So began the next phase of the search. Again, TROVE, the Victorian State BDM’s and the Electoral Roll, Ryerson and the State Archives came to the fore, in helping map out Emma’s extended family of six brothers and four sisters.
And then their subsequent marriages, and the birth of their children. It was this long and at times tedious process that brought me to Kenneth Jenvey, Harry’s nephew, and the keeper of the family tree. It was Ken who in turn put me in contact with his daughter, Leanne and her husband, who together have taken on the responsibility of maintaining the family tree that Ken has produced. As well as collecting and publishing the detailed military history of all of the members of the Jenvey family.
Were they the right people to choose? This is a question I always ask myself when returning medals, particularly when it is not a direct descendant, and there are several options.
Well, Ken’s wife has just concluded a War Remembrance project of finding photographs, having them framed and then displayed of all the young men from Wodonga West, who enlisted to serve during World War 2. Did we find the right family? I think so.

10 September 2013

Albert McNamee

1030 Temporary Sergeant Albert Leslie McNamee served in the 6th Light Horse Regiment. He initially joined the regiment in October 1915 at Gallipoli and later fought in Palestine. In 1917 he received a gunshot wound and was admitted to hospital. In March 1918 he was awarded the Military Medal. Unfortunately, his service record does not detail for which action the medal was awarded. Albert also served during WWII before dying in 1951. Albert's medal entitlement would have been at least:
The Military Medal,
The 1914-15 Star,
The British War Medal,
The Victory Medal (which I was sent),
TheWar Medal (WWII)
The Australian Service Medal 1939-45

The search for Albert's turned out to be very straight forward. He was from a very small town in NSW and from the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriage records it didn't appear that he married. Using the same records I established that his brother was named Walter Clifford McNamee. I then took the search to the electoral rolls and worked out that in 1936 Walter lived in a rural community in the same district that Albert came from. A search of the White Pages revealed that there was a person by the name of  McNamee listed in that town. 15 minutes after starting the search for Albert's family I was speaking to the wife of his nephew. She was able to confirm that Albert did not marry. Albert's great nephew is his closest living relative and I'll post the medal to the family shortly. Thanks to John S who sent me the medal in the first place.

Update 11 Sep 13
Albert's MM citation is as follows:
"For bravery on the battle field. Trooper McNamee was in charge of a section on observation duty, and under heavy fire he brought the guns to bear on the enemy, which enabled his squadron to take up a position".

09 September 2013

Sidney Whaite

6133 PTE Sidney George Whaite, served with the 32 Battalion, AIF. His service record shows that he was diagnosed with shell shock but little else. However, there are copies of letter from the lady who would late become his wife included in the record as well as from others interested in his well being. The letters are quite touching.
Thank you to Neville C who sent me the medals. These medals are in as issued condition and have never been mounted for wear. The medal returned tally is now 1314.

08 September 2013

Gerald White

This is another example of the wonderful relationship I have with the different RSL State Branches.
The WWI medals awarded to 4628 Corporal Gerald Edwin White were sent to me by the WA State Branch about two weeks ago.
Gerald served with 11th Battalion AIF, and was gassed while in France. 11th Battalion has been mentioned before in this blog. Gerald was from the South West of WA and farmed around the Williams area. Gerald died in 1972, however, his wife Irene died in 2005 having lived to 106.
My search followed Gerald's son Ian from Williams to Perth and then on to his sons Craig and Glenn. From the electoral rolls I knew that the family lived in Dianella for some time. However, with over 100 listings for either G or C White in the white pages the task looked daunting. With no listings in Dinaella with either Glenn or Craig's middle initial I went one suburb either side of Dinaella. I first tried Morley and sure enough there was a person with the same initial. Taking a punt I called the number and so often happens an educated guess paid off.
I've now spoken to Craig and I'll send him his grand father's medals and other personal items (pictured) in the near future. Thanks must go to Rod B who originally handed the medals in and to Wendy at the WA RSL who sent the medals to me. The returned medal tally is now 1312.

Updated 14 Sep 13
Thank you very much to the family of Gerald White for allowing me to use these photos of Gerald in 1915 aged 19 and with his wife Irene.

06 September 2013

Another dog tag

The recent success with the McCarthy dog tag has bought more of these lost items out of the wood work. Today I received an email about a dog tad that was found near Newcastle NSW. I immediately recognised it as a current issue one and within minutes was able to send an email the serviceman it belongs to and connect him with the finder. That is really all the information I can provide but another success.
The returned medal tally is now 1312.

05 September 2013

Cecil Hayes

My search for the family of Cecil John Harold Hayes began with an email from Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper. They had been contacted by Mr Cedric Brown who had seen an article about the McCarthy dog tag and wondered if I might be able to assist with a medal.
I rang Cedric who for more than 12 months had been searching for Cecil's family. He had received some assistance from other researchers but with no success.
Cecil enlisted for WWI on 2 occasions (link to service record). Firstly in July 1915 with the number 3836 and allocated to 23rd Battalion. He was discharged as medically unfit on 21 Feb 16. The photo below shows a very young Cecil when at the Broadmedaows Camp outside of Melbourne.
Just 2 months later Cecil enlisted again this time with the number 25874 and allocated to the 2nd Australian Light Railway Operating Company. He was eventually discharged on 14 Mar 19. His service record numbers 81 pages and there is a lot of correspondence about his medals and confusion surrounding their issue. I suspect that they went to one of his parents and Cecil never actually received them.
Fortunately, there is a family tree on Ancestry.com.au and 15 minutes after I started the search I had sent a message off to the tree owner. As it turned out it belonged to Cecil's daughter. I'll now arrange for each Cedric to send the medal back to Cecil's daughter.
Well done Cedric for not giving up the search. The returned medal tally is now 1311.

01 September 2013

Duncan Lawson update

Duncan's great niece, Bec, has allowed me to post me the attached photo of Duncan which he sent to his mother from Palestine. Thank you Bec.
Updated on 14 Sep 13
Bec has also kindly provided the copy of a newspaper clipping about Duncan being wounded in action.

Cyril McCarthy update 2

The press have really jumped on the story of Cyril McCarthy's lost WWI dog tag. This story was in today's Sunday Telegraph, written by Ian McPhedran.

This link is to a similar story in the Mercury.