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.