18 January 2015

Bill's Christmas Tale part two

A Christmas Tale – A Work in Progress Part two.
One of the first things I always do when I receive medals is check that they are all to the same person.
In the case of ‘MacNamara’, there was a small problem.
For as Ian the husband of his granddaughter said: “We know it’s Patricia’s grandfather, but the spelling on one medal is wrong, and so is his Service number. Yeh, they have been in one of her father’s old tins for some time, and we have always planned to get them mounted, but”.
And so part two began. It began with a considerable period spent scanning the Australian National Archives.
There are 54 files linked by the name MacNamara  but there are 400 files linked by the name McNamara, but none of them shared his regimental number 1426.
Only 1 file had the correct regimental number (1426) and the same given initials.
So what of the medal with the wrong no (1428). It took some gentle rubbing with a cotton bud and lens cleaning fluid, to remove over 70 years of grime/grease and verdigris, until the Regimental number transformed from 1428 to 1426.
So far so good, I now only had one regimental number to consider but why was the ‘a’ dropped and how come two units were shown?
Well it was back to ‘Mac’s’ file. If the medals were to be mounted together, then the granddaughter had to be sure that the missing ‘a’ had been an human error, she could accept no less.
It was the third and a much slower read through that brought the missing ‘a’ to light.
When Mac had been repatriated to Australia in June 1916, it had been Army policy to type out the service file in its entirety, this was done to ensure that all the facts were present in the members file, and that regardless of the wear and tear a service file had been exposed to, none of the actual history had been lost.
For whoever typed the file dropped the ‘a’ from MacNamara, and from then on ‘Mac’ was ‘Mc’ to the Army. However, complicating the fact was that Mac’s medals were all not all issued at the same time. The issue dates were:
1914-1915 Star 17/6/1920
British War Medal (BWM) 4/5/1921, and the
Victory Medal (VM) 23/5/1922.
In fact his medals cards for the BWM and VM showed Mac’s name as McNamara. Only the Star had initially been transcribed correctly. The VM medal card had later it appears been altered from McNamara to MacNamara. The BWM was overlooked. It was the odd one out.
Perhaps to some the time an effort spent in researching the differences was unnecessary. But I leave you with a thought.
If I had not taken the time to follow through, there is I believe the possibility that there is someone out there who had no medals, and whose grandfather had been a McNamara.
What do Mac’s medal look like now?

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