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.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Bill and your team :)