30 November 2013

Edwards post update

The post about Brigadier Edwards has been updated. A portrait photo of Edwards has been added.

23 November 2013

William Dillon

Another fine example of Bill's research skills.

One of the problems of taking over someone’s desk, is the unintended consequences of what you inherit. So began the story of the 1939-1945 Australian Service Medal of TX14559 (T40914) William Rock Dillon. In fact it probably began more than 5 or so years before, when Bill’s ASM was found in a street in Hobart, Tasmania. The medal eventually found its way to a Government Department in Hobart, where it was duly noted, put in an envelope and put in a drawer. It could possibly still be there but for Chloe in Veterans Affairs, who inherited the desk and by default the medal. She then decided that the medal must belong to someone and that it was time it was sent back either to the recipient or his next of kin.
Enter yours truly.
Unfortunately, War Graves did not have a date of death, so I was then left with Trove, which not only gave me Bill’s date of death, but led me back to the State Library, and a veritable treasure trove  (no pun intended) of Bill’s family. As I followed William’s family I became at times confused by its sheer size. It was one of those searches where by the time you have worked out the family, in this case from Death notices, you really have to sit down and rethink exactly what it is you have worked out.
Armed with a great list of names, but not knowing which other that those whose surname was Dillon, may have been related, I started a slow search. Initially, via the Electoral Roll, then the White Pages going back towards 1999, to find one of Bill’s descendants.
It was as a result of this that last Tuesday I spoke to John, Bill’s son who was quite surprised to learn that his father had received medals for his time in the Army. As far as he knew his father had been training horses for the Army, for transport, and had never left Tasmania. To which I explained that it was not necessary to be posted overseas, to receive medals for service.
His next question which is one I could not answer, was ‘well who would have got Dad’s medals?” Quickly followed by “We are a Launceston family, always have been, there are no relatives as far as I know living in Hobart!”
To which I had no answer. But John has Dad’s medal.
Chloe, as you will be reading, this well done. And thank you for trusting me to find a next of kin.
The returned medal tally is now 1391.

21 November 2013

Len Guildford

Bill and our ever supportive friends from the Australian Surname Group have done some extraordinary research to fianilse this search. This Bill's story.

The return of the Guildford family medals show what can be achieved when a group of people, Kerry, a carpenter, the team from the Australian Surname Group and Jude at ANZAC House come together in a common cause.
When VX58124 Len Guildford, a WW2 Warrant Officer, passed away in 1990, his medals were lost to his family. Also with Len’s medals lost so were the WW1 medals of his father 5057 L/Cpl. Charles Alfred Guilford. At the conclusion of the search, when I spoke to Len’s daughter Cynthia, she explained how for many years she has looked for her father’s medals, but to no avail. She had not even known of her Grandfather’s medals. The whole family collection would have remained lost were it not for Kerry, who found the medals in a tin box in the roof of a house he was renovating.
Kerry’s first approach was to try and return the medals himself, but as he later admitted, that was not as easy as he first thought. His next step was to ANZAC House, where Jude passed him my details; and so the second search began.
It has been a complex, frustrating and tiring search, in other words a standard ‘Lost Medals Australia’ bang your head against the wall, search. Complicating it was when Len, a widower, married for the second time. He and his wife then moved to the Gold Coast. However, when Len passed away in 1990, his wife returned to Melbourne where she lived until 2001.
Now while a family tree is a major step in finding relatives, sometimes it can be a confusing barrier. In this case the tree I developed came from Charles and Florence Guildford’s (Len’s parents) death notices in the Argus newspaper but only the first names were ever mentioned.
Tracing Len’s brother Ron was relatively easy, both having served in the Armed Forces during WW2. However, Ronald who never married passed away in 1947 from war injuries he received.
It was his sisters Lorna and Cynthia, who incidentally Len and his wife named their daughter after, that proved the next stumbling block.
Lorna had married in 1940, however, sadly her husband and their two adopted children, pre-deceased her. At this point all references to Lorna ceased. I still do not know when she died or where she was buried. Sadly neither does the family.
Cynthia, was a similar unknown, because of her date of birth she was did not appear on the published Birth, Death and Marriage records. Nor was there any mention of her on Trove.
So the only option now open was to try and trace Cynthia, Len’s daughter.
To this I owe a debt of gratitude to Sue of the Australian Surname Group, who traced Cynthia, actually Cynthia Ethel Guildford, through her family addresses up to 1960, however, she was absent from the 1963 Electoral Roll. But in the 1960 and 1963 Electoral Rolls there was only three women with the given names Cynthia Ethel, one in Stawell, one in Shepparton, and one living in a Melbourne bayside suburb. So assuming that Cynthia had married, the search took on a new and more complex perspective. It was this search that then brought me to Cynthia. But not before one more hitch. The Electoral Roll microfiches at the State Library only go up to 2008. So where to next?
Answer; the White Pages, in particular the White Pages for 2008, where I looked up Cynthia and her husband’s telephone number. The reason being that while people may change addresses and Cynthia and her husband, who it transpired, were house renovators, and had moved every 4 to 5 years, didn’t change how they had their names and initials printed in the phone book. At home an hour later and I was speaking to Cynthia.
While there is always a certain amount of satisfaction when you return medals, I do not know who is the happiest, Cynthia to have both the medals of her Grandfather and Father back, or Kerry, who is overjoyed that he was able to affect their return.
For myself I must be getting old, while I was so very glad to return the medals, this morning when I spoke to Glyn about the search I had to admit I was exhausted. That tonight would be early to bed.
However it is now 11.30 PM as I sit at my computer writing this story.
The returned medal tally is now 1390.

16 November 2013

15 November 2013

John James Budden Monaghan

This was another difficult search mainly due to the length of time since the medals were awarded.
This pair, for service during the Boer War, were awarded to 2899 Private J Monaghan who served in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Luckily, the Queen's South Africa Medal has the initial J.J.B. which helped considerably.
Through a contact on the British Medal Forum (Bart), I received the following information:
John James Budden Monaghan. Born at Frimley, Surrey. Enlisted at Gosport, 2 March 1889, aged 15 years 4 months. Discharged on termination of engagement, 1 March 1902. Next of kin was his grandmother, Eliza Budden, of Prospect Place, Netherbury, Beaminster, Dorset. He also earned an India Medal (clasps Punjab Frontier and Tirah), and received a severe gunshot wound at Enselin, 25 November 1899.
This lead me to work out Monaghan's father's name was Samuel and mother Christiana. I then located him in NZ from 1906 to 1919 working as a tailor/presser. In none of the records was there evidence that he was married.
I have since found a distant relative who I'll return the medals to. Thank you very much to Margaret S who dropped the medals at my home this week.
The returned medal tally is now 1383.
Of interest, the QSA has the ghost date numbers that were removed from the dye when the war went past 1900. This is mentioned in the Wikipedia link I provided.

Post update - 16 Nov 13

Bart of the British Medal Forum and Janet, who I'll send the medals to, have both supplied me some additional information about Monaghan.

From Bart: 'I had a quick look at the census entries too, and it struck me that Monaghan was rather alone in the world. His mother seems to have died at his birth, and his father (an Army Sergeant) does not appear to have played any part in his upbringing. He was educated at the Royal Military Asylum (afterwards renamed The Duke of York's Royal Military School), which was originally intended for orphaned children, so perhaps his father died when he was young too. His next of kin, his grandmother, died not long after he enlisted.'

From Janet: 'I have just discovered an Eliza Mary Monaghan who must have been a twin sister. She shares the same reference as John in the British Free BMD Births record. I think she must have died in infancy, but the only possible death record is for an Elizabeth Mary Monaghan; Age 0; at Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, UK.  I've just looked on the map and it's not that far from where they were born.
I've now found the death of a Samuel Monaghan in 1875 in Medway, Kent, UK; Age 32. He is living with his grandmother in the 1881 census.'

Harold Keith Quinan

I really struggled with this search. It started when I received the WWII medals awarded to NX2788 Harold Keith Quinan from a fellow Army officer Major Wayne S.
Finding Harold's WWII nominal roll entry was the easiest part of this whole search. He was a very early enlistee having a service number of 2788. From the NSW Birth Death's and Marriage records I put together the large Quinn family tree. I could work out Harold's death but no birth. Not unusual but it caused confusion. Based on the names of other family members I contacted a descendant and the name Harold was not familiar to the family. Nothing made sense since the NOK from the nominal roll and the mother's name for Harold's death was the same as for the rest of the family. While sitting and staring at Harold's death registration I noticed it was for the same date as a name I assumed to be his brother's, Kenneth Hillary Quinan. I then focused on Kenneth.

What I then found were two WWI service records which are almost the same. The first is for Kenneth Harold Quinan which gives his parents as Norman and Florence and that he was born in New York on 15 September 1898. This would make him over 18 when he enlisted for WWI. The service record is not complete. The second is for Kenneth Hillary Quinan once again with Norman and Florence as his parents. The record shows that he was also born in New York on 2 January 1900. Even though his parents give permission for him to enlist, late in 1918, they ask that he not be sent over seas until he reached 19.
An examination of the hand written parts that the soldier filled in on the form are identical hand writing. I believe that Kenneth Harold and Kenneth Hillary are the same boy who raised his age on two occasions to enlist. In reality Kenneth Hillary was born in 1902 in NSW.
Now to WWII. There is no record of a Harold Keith until WWII and the records gives his next of kin as Florence and his berth place is Warialda which is the same as Kenneth's from the BDM. I'm convinced they are all one and the same.
Kenneth Hillary's death notice does not mention any children so it is a nephew of Kenneth/Harold who I'll send the medals to.
Several members of the Quinan family also served in WWII
Thanks Wayne for the medals and thanks Raylee for the additional Quinan family information.
The returned medal tally is now 1381.

Very early issue Stars were unnamed. Soldiers were later given the option to return them for official naming. It would appear that Kenneth/Harold chose to have his privately engraved.
A brother of  Kenneth/Harold was Squadron Leader G J Quinan who was also an early enlistee for WWII. He was also the CO of 4 Squadron.
Another brother served in the same battalion as Kenneth/Harold, this was NX20143 Claude Brian Quinan. Their father also enlisted as N106405 Norman Frank Quinan. This photo is of Kenneth/Harold and his father Norman (on the left).

11 November 2013

Henry Herrick Edwards

I often mention how a little bit of luck goes a long way in solving some cases.
Last Wednesday I received an email from the National Secretary of the RSL asking if I could assist a chap who had some medals he wanted to return to the family. I called the number provided and spoke to Drew who had found the medals awarded to VX80894 Brigadier Henry Herrick Edwards. It didn't take me long to work out that Brigadier Edwards had been awarded the Companion of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. I also found that Brigadier Edwards had severed in WWI in the field artillery. This is the bio entry for Edwards.
By using the NSW Birth, Deaths and Marriage records I was able to establish when Edwards died and that his wife's name was Marjorie Inez Edwards (nee Flynn). From their death notices I found that they had three children, Anthony, Meryl and Fay. Anthony was easy to follow but that lead ended when I found that he died in 2011. 
For the next few hours I searched in vein for any lead on Meryl and Fay. The electoral rolls gave to many retunes and without a middle name or married name it was just to difficult. I then had that one piece of luck that I needed. In frustration I looked at every page of the electoral roll hits I got. The very last entry on the very last page of the very last published year of electoral rolls (1980) was for Meryl Inez Edwards. This was to much of a coincidence. From there I checked the White Pages and sure enough there was an M I Edwards at the same address from the 1980 entry. I put all this information aside until yesterday when Drew dropped the medals off at my house. Shortly after I rang the number from the White Pages and sure enough I had the right family. I now know that the medals were stolen a couple of years ago. Also with Edwards' medals were two others named to W Flynn. These medals are from Marjorie's side of the family. The last item which I thought would be of interest is a letter to Edwards from General Blamey congratulating him on being awarded the CBE.
Many thanks to Drew for going to significant effort to ensuring that the medals were returned to Brigadier Edwards' family.
The returned medal tally is now 1375.

Update - 30 Nov 13
I recently spent a wonderful hour with BRIG Edward's daughter Meryl when she visited me to collect the medal. While she was here, Meryl showed me a portrait of Edwards and  she kindly allowed me to scan it  and post it here.

09 November 2013

A broken group brought back together

This is a pretty complicated story and a testament to Bill’s patience. The end result is that four medals were actually lost to the veteran’s son but Bill’s advice bought a broken group back together. To top it off, Bill was able to arrange for the issue of three other medals that had not been awarded. The following is Bill journey through this search. The returned medal tally is now 1356.

We’ve lost Dad’s medals, well some of them, can you help us find them?
This is a question that I get asked almost monthly, and try as I might, people never seem satisfied, as I know I wouldn’t to be told, that they are asking an almost impossibility.
Had David not been a family friend and an ex-serviceman, with an understanding of where we were going and how difficult the journey would be, I do not think that I would have even begun to think that together, we could do anything. Nor be as successful as we have been.
The first part was simple: what medals did David and his mother have?
  • 1939-1945 Star, but not engraved
  • Pacific Star
  • 1939-45 War Medal, and
  • 1939-1945 Australian Service Medal
The next question: did David or his family, have any of his father’s discharge papers?
Fortunately, David’s father had been very careful to keep all his documents.
It was from these that we learned he was eligible for:
  • 1939-1945 Star
    Pacific Star
  • War Medal 1939-45
  • Australian Service Medal 1939-45
  • Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 Clasp Vietnam
  • Vietnam Medal
  • Defence Force Service Medal with 1/2and 3rd Clasp
  • National Medal with 1st Clasp
  • Australian Defence Medal
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
  • Vietnamese Campaign Medal, as well as the,
  • Emblem of the US Meritorious Unit Commendation,
  • Emblem of the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm
So where were they?
The first question was: did his father ever get the medals in the first place? On Dave’s behalf, but with his details and signature on the form, I submitted an application for the posthumous issue of any medals his father had failed to claim.
After quite some time an excited David contacted me to tell me that he had just received his father’s: 
  • AASM 1945-75, with Clasp Vietnam,
  • Defence Force Service Medal with 1/2and 3rd Clasp, and the
  • Australian Defence Medal
So that now reduced the total missing to five.
Now came the part that I refuse to enter into, and I will leave it to your own imagination as to why. Having put together a family tree and related timeline, I wrote a series of questions for Dave to ask individual members of his family. Over quite some time this research slowly bought to light the missing: 
  • National Medal with 1st Clasp
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, and the
  • Vietnam Medal 
However, the following still eluded us both:
  • Vietnamese Campaign Medal,
  • The Emblem of the US Meritorious Unit Commendation,
  • The Emblem of the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm
To complete the set, Dave followed my advice to purchase a replica of the missing Vietnamese Campaign Medal, and mount it with the others. That by doing so there was less chance that the medals would again be split up, as there was no guarantee that we could ever pull the set back together.
So how did the medals all look, see for yourself.
Would I do it again? I know Dave would in an instant say yes. Me, I don’t know.

01 November 2013

Murray MacAlister

For the amount of research that has gone in to this search there isn't a lot to actually tell. I've spent over six hours in total researching this soldier and the end result is one of the most satisfying I can remember.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Len B of Dee Why. Len is a Vietnam War veteran and found in his father's effects the medals awarded to NX135958 Murray John MacAlister. Len knew Murray and was able to provide me a few details about him.
Murray is often referred to in official records as John Murray so once I had sorted that out I could follow him quite easily. He joined the Army prior to WWII and was still serving in 1963. His medals show his WWII service and his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. After WWII Murray moved to the newly formed Australian Regular Army. His regimental number of 2712 shows he was an early member. His Long Service and Good Conduct Medal is hand engraved and has ARA after his name.
While it was easy to follow Murray's life it was very difficult to unravel his family and that is were the effort went. Murray married twice. Firstly in 1942 and then again in 1948. He did not have any children from either marriage. Murray's second wife, Jean, was also on her second marriage. Jean's first husband left her to marry one of her sisters.
It was through Jean's brother that I found a family member. There are several other family complications that don't add to the story so I'll leave it at that. I will add that I've had a wonderful email and phone conversation with Tim who is Murray's great nephew. Thanks to Len who handed me the medals when I met him at the AWM on Monday.
The returned medal tally is now 1352.