This story marks a significant milestone for us. We have now returned 1500 medals. I’m so pleased that the honour goes to Bill.
"When you start to research your family tree, odd things turn up, such was the case of the WW1 medals of 553 Private Michael James Baldwin. Who was he and how did his medals became ensconced in family of Noelene who engaged us to do the research? It was easy to find Michael’s service history, it was tracing his background and that of his family that proved difficult.
While Michael was one of seven children born to Patrick and Mary Baldwin, only one his brothers, Patrick, established a line that could be traced. Like many of his era, Michael was an itinerant worker, it was while he was in South Australia that he passed away. His widow Mary dying some years later.
Complicating the search for a next of kin was the need to disprove any possible link to Noelene’s family. In the end I agreed with her there was no link. So the question remained how had her grandfather came to be in possession of Michael’s medals, had they ever served together or known one another? That question is still open ended, I have no doubt that Noelene will find an answer. But perhaps what is important is that Michael’s medals are now back with his family, his great niece Lynn.
It was while I was talking to Noelene that she mentioned her son-in-laws grandfather, Joseph Horne and the difficulty the family had in tracing his British Army background, could I help. Normally, Glyn and I try to steer clear of becoming involved in family searches, however in this case I felt that I owed Noelene at least the opportunity to give a go. What I did find out in the end was that yes he had served in the British Army, in India before the First World War, with the 17th Bengal Lancers no less, but unfortunately Joseph’s war records were amongst those destroyed when London was bombed during WW2.
However, I did discover that Joseph had enlisted in the Australian Volunteer Defence Corps during WW2, as a result was eligible for the Australian Service Medal 1939-1945, and the Civilian Service Medal 1939-1945.
Shortly after emailing Noelene the above with regard to Joseph, I forwarded an application for the posthumous issue of medals and clasps to Joseph’s son. Now while he may not have all his grandfather’s medals he does have those of Joe’s last service to his King and Country."
I'll add a few extra details to this story. Michael was a member of the 8th Light Horse Regiment. The regiment is most famous for forming the first 2 waves in the charge at the Nek. This story is tole in the film Gallipoli. This charge occurred on 7 August 1915 but Michael didn't participate as he had been wounded in action on 2 June 1915. He received a bullet wound to his left hand and had a finger amputated. Michael's service record is extensive and has 105 pages. What I find interesting is that on page 104 there are three stamps to show that his medals were returned in 1923.
The returned medal tally is now 1500.