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.


  1. Well done Bill!

  2. Thank you all for the wonderful job of restoring these medals to the family.