31 August 2014

WW2 RAAF medals

59477 Lawrence Gordon O'Brien served with the RAAF during WWII. His service record isn't on line so other than the listing that his last posting was a repair and servicing unit I couldn't find any further information about what he did. Lawrence and his sons were easy to track through the electoral rolls. That was until 1980.
I knew the first and middle name of Lawrence's grand daughter but not her married name. I found a 1980 electoral roll entry with a person with the same names at an address close to where Lawrence's son lived. Using that initial and surname combination I had a look at the white pages. I found a candidate but the address was different. This morning I took another punt which aid off and was soon speaking to Lawrence's grand daughter. I'll send her the medals in the near future
Thanks to Graham Docksey from the Albury RSL who sent me the medals.
The returned medal tally is now 1533.

29 August 2014

Bradford Pascoe-Pearce

This story has several treads to it that came together today. The first thread started in 2011when I met Catherine and Bill Hindson when I returned Catherine's grandfather's WW1 medal to her. As a result of this connection Catherine referred her friend Mary K to me.
Some years ago Mary purchased a group of WWII medals from a op-shop. The medals were awarded to NX71989 LT Bradford Pascoe-Pearce. What I immediately noticed from the nominal roll was that Bradford died on 15 August 1945, just 3 weeks before the Japanese surrender. Bradford was a POW and died in Borneo. He is buried in the Labuan War Cemetery. Having discovered this information I worked out that Bradford was married in 1941, she and Bradford did not have any children. His widow remarried in 1952.
I then started looking at Bradford's siblings. The first was his brother Max. NX3928 Lance Sergeant Maxwell Pearce-Pascoe was a POW of the Germans and held in Stalag 383. He is one of 150 Australians to have died as a German POW. Maxwell is buried in the Durnbach War Cemetery having died on 15 March 1945. The photos below are of Maxwell's funeral.
There are several other notable members of the Pascoe-Pearce family. Bradford's father was Edward the Mayor of Parramatta. His brother Harcourt (Bill) was a Wallaby.
Following the family through the electoral rolls from 1900 to the 1950s was rather easy. Once I hit the sixties most of the clues dried up. I did find a reference that Bill had two daughters and luckily I could work out their married names from a death notice. Then there was a big gap in the records. Using one of the married surnames and two initials I came up with a phone number in the White Pages. To my surprise the address is about 20km from where I work.
Now the next thread. Catherine and Bill live 2 minutes drive from my office so this afternoon I collected the medals from her. Once I got home I rang the number I thought was a family member and sure enough I was soon speaking to Bradford's niece, Elizabeth. Hopefully, Elizabeth and I can meet soon and I'll be able to hand her Bradford's five medals.
Mary has really looked after this group. After she purchased them she had them mounted and also added a replica medal to replace the missing ASM 1939-45.
The returned medal tally is now 1529.

Bradford Pearce-Pearce and two of his medals

28 August 2014

A single WW2 medal

The WW2 record of V9082 Josiah William Neal Thompson shows that he was a member of the Survey Corps. Nothing unusual about this but when I looked up his name in the electoral rolls it showed that he lived his life in Bendigo and even up until 1980 his employment was listed as 'soldier'. Those who have been in uniform for a few years will know that the home of the Royal Australian Survey Corps was in Bendigo at Fortuna. The Royal Australian Survey Corps was integrated in to the Royal Australian Engineers in 1996 and is only in very recent times that Fortuna as sold off by Defence.
While I could follow Josiah quite easily in the electoral rolls, his family was a bit harder to pin down. I now know he had 11 children but it was one reference to Ivor James Thompson in the 1954 roll that gave me a solid clue. Ivor moved to Rochester in Victoria and the electoral roll entries showed him and Eileen at the same address for many years. I looked up the name in the White Pages and to my pleasant surprise I found E Thompson listed at that address. I called the number today and sure enough I had it right and was soon speaking to Eileen.
Thank you to Sandra who sent the medal to me. The returned medal tally is now 1524.

Post update - Albert Carter

The post for Albert Budd Carter has had 2 photos added.

20 August 2014

WW2 group of four medals

Another great story from Bill.

There are often times when Glyn and I are asked do we know where the medals have been. Often my answer is no. Sometime just finding the next of kin is enough. The WW2 medals of VX105924 (V125026) CorporalCharles Louis Apotheloz certainly fits this mold.
From Ian, Secretary of the Stratford RSL to Jude Beshears, the Office Manager of the Victorian Branch of the RSL is a short distance in time, what is longer though is from Charles’s death in 1965, or the death of his wife Gladys in 1968, to now. Where has his medals been all this time and how many hands have they passed through.
As I said at the introduction, sometimes we have to be satisfied that returning the medals is the best we can do. So shortly the medals will be returned to Ian, Charles’s nephew, and who it transpired when I contacted him, is the family historian. I recently told the team of the Australian Surname Group: “tonight I spent nearly an hour on the phone to Ian, slowly working my way through the family tree your input had help construct. Ian confirmed as I thought from his service file that Charlie had not had an easy life during his military service. He had been quite ill after the war and it was not until late in life that he married Gladys. Unfortunately they had no children”.
When I spoke to Ian tonight uppermost in my mind was to ensure that the family understood that if they (family) should accept custodianship of Charles medals, then it was beholden to them to not only care for the medals but ensure that an ongoing ownership of the medals was maintained. It is this last item, which both Glyn and I hold strong views about. You are never ‘given’ a serviceman’s medals, you only hold them in trust.

The returned medal tally is now 1523.  

16 August 2014

WWI British War Medal

Some of our searches raise more questions than answers. This story from Bill is one example. The result was a successful return

The background to the search for a next of kin of 7029 Arthur Sylvia Lane is convoluted, even if you allow for the queries over Arthur's full given names, Arthur Sylvia or Arthur Silvio?
The request to look for the family came as a consequence of a deceased estate and an enquiry by the will Executor to the Victorian branch of the RSL for help.
Unfortunately, and I do not know why or how there were no details of where the medal came from. Even now I don't, but to Gordon for his reaching out to the RSL, thank you.
But above all this search belongs to the team of the Australian Surname Group, whose patience and perseverance won the day.

The medal that was returned was a British War Medal. The returned medal tally is now 1519. 

12 August 2014

WW2 Royal Australian Navy medal group

The four WW2 medals awarded to PA1728 Able Seaman Raymond Hartley Rusby were sent to me by Vicki D about 2 weeks ago. It didn't take me long to work out that Ray was originally from South Australia so I knew there would be a little bit of difficulty find family details as the South Australian records are difficult to access. The give away that Ray was from SA is his service number. The PA stands for Port of Adelaide which was part of the Navy numbering system during the war.
Luckily I came across a family tree which was able to provide me some family names I could also research. This lead me to Ray's brother who lives in Canada and another relative who was able to forward a message to Ray's daughter.
In the near future I'll be forwarding Ray's medals to Cheryl in the same pristine condition they were issued over 60 years ago.
Thank you to Vicki for the medals and Keith and Annette for their assistance.
The returned medal tally is now 1518.

11 August 2014

Albert Budd Carter

Every so often we do some research that is not only challenging but has a story that is truly upsetting.
I received a WWI pair recently from Rod P of Cairns which set off a fascinating bit of research.
695 Albert Budd Carter was a 40 year old furnace man from South Shields, England. In 1915 he was living in Melbourne with his wife Jane. When he enlisted he was allocated to 57th Battalion, AIF.  The battalion was involved in the Battle of Mont St Quentin in August 1918 and then further fighting around Bellicourt in late August. It was here, on 29 August 1918, that Albert was killed in action, just six weeks before Armistice Day.
Other than a couple of electoral roll entries up until 1919 there was very little details about Jane. By 1923 all mention of her had disappeared from the records.
From the Commonwealth War Graves entry we had Albert's parent's name, James and Hannah, and where they were from in England. To help out, Bill enlisted assistance from the Australian Surname Group. Within a couple of hours we had the names of Albert's siblings and clues from immigration records about Albert. He was a seafarer and hence his occupant as a furnace man. A few other clues led me to locate several siblings who emigrated to Queensland and then to NSW. After following a few promising leads around the Sydney suburbs I ran in to dead ends. It is then I went back to Albert's eldest bother, Walter James Carter.
Walter married Louisa Bricknell in Queensland and they had four children. One was named Charles Edward after another of Albert's siblings. Charles married Ivy and their son is Graham Carter. I found Graham in the electoral rolls in 1977. A quick check of the White Pages had a G Carter at the same address so I took a punt and rang the number. To my relief I found the right family.
This research was a little difficult but thanks to all the individual pieces of information I received I  was able to put together the solution is a little over 24 hours. Thank you to all those who assisted and to Rod who sent me these medals along with the O'Rourke medal.
The returned medal tally is now 1514.

Post update 28 Aug 14
Graham has had Albert's medals mounted and framed. He has kindly provided my some photos and permission to publish them.

09 August 2014

Lawrence O'Rourke - KIA

1157 Lawrence William O'Rourke was a 22 year old farmer from Tasmania when he enlisted in 1915. He was allocated to the 26th Battalion, AIF.
O'Rourke fought at Gallipoli but eventually fell ill. He was hospitalised on Malta before returning to  Egypt. In March 1916 he transferred to the Divisional Train as part of the Australian Army Service Corps. At some point after this he returned to his battalion
On 29 July 1916, O'Rourke was killed in action. He has no know grave and is commemorated at Villers-Bretonneux.
O'Rourke's next of kin was his brother Arthur. I have located Arthur's grand son Barry and will soon return O'Rourke's British War Medal to him.
Thank you to Rod P who sent me the medal. The returned medal tally is now 1512.

Father and son medals

Increasingly Bill and I are providing assistance to the Police forces around Australia. We are very pleased that is some small way we can help out.
Bill recently did all the research to locate the family of Guy Kellaway Headlam (WWII service) and his son Robert Guy Headlam. This story was published on line recently but really doesn't tell the full story as there are some aspects that need to remain private.
The returned medal tally is now 1511.