One of the enduring relationships that we have formed is with the RSL and Australia Post. It was from these two organisations that this search originated. As long term readers will know that when the take on some cases from statutory bodies there or often details that we are unable to publish. Therefore, I ask that you excuse any gaps you might perceive and use your imagination.
Like many searches involving the Victorian RSL this one started with a call and follow up email from Jude Beshears from Anzac House in Melbourne. She had several sets of medal to for me to research. A call and email, this was unusual and really piqued my interest. A further call from Elizabeth Manning, also of the RSL, and the accompanying comment that one medal has the word 'For Bravery in the Field' on it really got my attention. So much so that I broke a long held rule that I don't drive in to the city. Well I did and have now determined that I'll invest in a parking garage rather than a house.
What a collection of medals I was presented with on arrival and I now realise why Jude and Elizabeth wanted to call me personally.
The medal groups were those to:
797 PTE Alfred Hampton Carr, 5th Machine Gun Battalion and comprised the Military Medal, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
2050 PTE Robert Alexander Carling, 39th Battalion comprising the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
418801 LAC Charles Ernest Carling comprising the 1939-45 Star, the Pacific Star, the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1935-49.
My immediate reaction was to link the Carling medals as most likely that of father and son. The Carr medals didn't immediately appear to be linked but as they were all found together they may have been.
In many ways my searches begin with a simple well laid down process. One I've had described to me as boring, but it works and I think the simplicity stops me jumping to any conclusions that would later lead me astray. This process sees me go through the records available through the AWM and the Australian National Archives. I quietly read these and try to establish a family tree. I then move on to War Graves to establish a date of death. Then it is a cemetery search which might lead me down the road to knowing which funeral director conducted the burial. If this is the case I might get lucky and the funeral home is willing to contact the family. Then, as I've said before, I might resort to sheer desperation and spend long hours at the Victorian State Library.
In this case I could easily confirm the Carling medals were from the same family but Carr drew a blank. The Carlings were from Victoria but Carr was from South Australia and the paucity of information in the South Australian Records frustrated me.
So I began working backwards from who I thought was the youngest being Charles. While I found his grave many of the other records associated with his death and burial were no longer available.
So it was back to my simple process to trawl through the electoral rolls, Trove and the last option of the State Library. A combination of these three and a bit of luck, well a lot of luck, and some back ground information from the original recovery, that lead me to Charles' widow, Norma.
It was Norma who, between pauses to blow her nose, provided the key information that bought together the beginning and conclusion of this search. Later the same day I spoke to Norma's daughter, Leslie, to arrange the return of the medals. Like Norma, Leslie was also blowing her nose. The reason given was that they both had a cold and I think I'll let them stick to that story.
When I spoke to Norma and Leslie I got the full story about the medals. Robert Albert Carling was the grandfather of Charles Ernest Carling. Alfred Hampton Carr was Robert's nephew making him Charles' uncle.
Norma also told me that she was burgled 9 months ago. Indeed, Norma disturbed the burglars who fled with the medals, her jewelry and some family papers. Other items like her laptop and TV had been made ready to go. The police offered little hope for the recover of any item but after the papers were left n her letterbox she held out hope that just maybe the medals would be recovered.
The photos show the medals Alfred Carr, the citation for his MM and the ladies and Bill discussing the medals.