22 February 2015

Thomas Johnson

Just in from Bill:
Thomas Johnson's War Medal arrived in two parts a jiffy bag with a short note, that explained the medal along with others include in the bag were given to an RSL Branch by the family of a collector. They didn't want the medals and felt that the RSL could either put them on display or return them to a next of kin.
Somehow the medal has, over the years, been twisted or abused so that the medal separated from its suspender. However, it is nothing that a competent jeweler cannot fix.
The successful search really owes everything to the team at he Australian Surname Group. At the request of Thomas’s great nice who will receive the medal, many of the details that would normally be posted have been held back, to preserve privacy.

 The returned medal tally is now 1625.

C O Fitzgerald 9th LHR

The search for the family of 615 T/SGT Charles Otho Fitzgerald threw up many unexpected surprises. Charles was the son of Lord Charles Fitzgerald who was in turn a son of the 4th Duke of Leinster. Unsurprisingly, there is quite a bit about this family in the Victorian newspapers from the early 20th century. I've included a few articles below.
Charles was a member of  the 9th Light Horse Regiment. It would appear that he suffered an injury after being kicked by a horse and subsequently transferred to the Anzac Provost Corp. Charles brother George served as a captain in the 5th Battalion.
After the war Charles married Mary Pearl Millicent McIntosh but they didn't have any children. I followed the families of several of Charles' siblings and it was through his sister Mable that I have arrived at the current generation.
Mable married Robert McCracken who also served with the 5th Battalion. Robert was an original Anzac and this story provides some interesting information about his family.
It is Mabel's grandson who I've been in contact with and will return the medal to.
Thanks to Helen M who sent the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1624.


21 February 2015

Wallscourt Steen Kelly

I commenced this search at 1300 today and at 1840 I was speaking to the nephew of the subject of this search. 5 hours and 40 minutes of solid research to get a result. There is a considerable amount of information available about this officer and I'll be including it in the story.
Yesterday, the medals awarded to Wallscourt Steen Kelly arrived in the mail, sent to me by Tony B. Wallscourt enlisted in 1916 and allocated to the 38th Battalion. His experience in the Senior Cadets saw him quickly promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer. Then in 1917 he was commissioned and moved to the 60th Battalion. Later in 1917 Wallscout was wounded in action having received gun shot wounds to his right thigh. He was also mentioned in dispatches. Wallscourt's appointment in the AIF was terminated in February 1918 to take up a commission in the Indian Army. Wallscourt was also a first class cricketer.
The Kelly's were a reasonably prominent family in their district in Victoria and as a result there they were mentioned in the newspapers on many occasions. It was through these stories that I was able to piece together Wallscourt's life and family connections. I've included some below which include pictures of him. He eventually retired from the Indian Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Wallscourt married late in life to Mina Branigan who served as a nurse during WWI.
The newspaper articles gave me the names of Wallscout's brothers, Rudyard and Hubert. Rudyard served in the RAAF during WW2.
The Kelly's eventually settled in WA and Rudyard lived in Applecross. Using this information I could track Rudyard's children John, David and Delrose. John had a career in the RAAF and a very interesting piece of information came out about him. He was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1952. This award was for saving the lives of several Royal Navy sailors who got in trouble swimming off Cocos Island. I've included an article about this incident as well.
John died in 2012 and on a hunch I searched the West Australian newspaper death notice archives. I got luck and John's death notice was online. To my surprise the notice mentioned Rudyard's other son David and gave his phone number. I was soon talking to David who was able to confirm all that I had found as well as fill in some blanks. He also told me more about John's award.
As well as his WWII pair, Wallscourt was awarded the India General Service Medal with clasps for Waziristan and the North West Frontier.
The returned medal tally is now 1623.

This is Wallscourt's MID.

Wallscourt with fellow officers in 1918

Wallcourt's engagement to Mina

Wallscourt with fellow officers of the Indian Army

Wallscourt's death notice

John Kelly's BEM

19 February 2015

Raymond Spencer Veitch

This search has several twists which I've not encountered before. Let's see if I can explain it easily.
In January I was contacted by Ted from WA about three WW2 medals awarded to N99670 Raymond Spencer Veitch. With the group was a commemorative medallion for the attacks on Darwin in 1942. The first twist was that Ray's grand daughter, Nicole Wright, has posted a 'looking for' add on the NSW RSL website about these medals and how they were lost. Unfortunately, when Ted tried the phone number and email address that Nicole posted they were both inactive. That is when he contacted me.
When the medals arrived I noticed that they were marked with a (D) to indicate that they are an official duplicate set.
All my efforts to find Nicole were unsuccessful so I looked at Ray's siblings in the hope that they would know her. My search led me to Marissa who is Ray's great niece. The next twist is that Marrissa is also a serving solider. As it turned out, today I happened to be visiting another base near where Marissa is posted to. This afternoon I took a slight detour and delivered Ray's medals. The medals are back with the family and Marissa's uncle will do some more research looking for Nicole. I'm also hopeful that one day Nicole will search for Ray's name and come across this post. Then I can connect two branches of this family.
The last twist is that these medals were returned on the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Darwin.
Thanks to Ted. The returned medal tally is now 1620.  

10 February 2015

Thomas Haworth

Bill's success story of today.

The search for the next of kin of Thomas Eugen Haworth began with a mystery parcel from ANZAC House here in Melbourne. As Elizabeth, the Chief Executive Officer’s Secretary, said “Its rather a mix this time”.
And what a mix:
An Italy Star,
A 1939-1945 War Medal
An Atlantic Star
An Africa Star
Thomas’s Korea medal
A 1970 Commemorative Medal celebrating the visit by Pope Paul the IV to Australia.
And last but by no means least; a USSR medal commemorating the end of WW1 (Yes WW1, the one that finished in 1918)
Plus some other items:
A passport wallet less the passport, but containing a Riggers Handbook, and a 1957 copy of the ‘Rules of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes’
The piece de resistance was an Income Tax Notice of Assessment for 1983.
Who said returning medals wasn’t interesting? Okay different then.
So now to find the family of 5/1617 Thomas Eugene Haworth to return his Korea Medal.
War Graves provided me with his date of death and I found that his wife's name was Madge. Thomas was a West Australian, the 5 in his service number having given that away. That made my next port of call Karrakatta cemetery. There among the records I found Thomas. But no mention of Madge, his wife, so now the chances were I was looking for her.
A quick check of White Pages on the Internet and 5 minutes later I was talking to Madge. The story of the missing medal unfolded. Madge had attended the ANZAC Day service and march at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne some 3 years ago. It was not until later that she  realised that the safety pin that had held her husband’s Korea War Medal had come undone and the medal had dropped off.
So where has the medal been for the last three years? No one knows other that the person who passed the medal in to ANZAC House. 
While I apologise for the photo of Tom’s medal, it was a result of trying to highlight the hole left by the errant safety pin. If you look at the ribbon you can see the large hole left by the ‘unsafe’ safety pin. Those of you who are expecting me to rant about safety pins and their unreliability are going to be disappointed.

The returned medal tally is now 1616.

09 February 2015

The search for James Peake

Bill and I are often asked what our research process is. Some searches are relatively easy as the person we are looking for might appear in an online family tree or easily identifiable through some other source. Other searches are very complex requiring the examination of multiple source documents and no small amount of luck. I thought I would take readers through a very detailed description of this search to give a better idea of some of the effort we go to in order to get a solution.

WX12289 James Elliot Hughes Peake was known as Jim. I found this out when I spoke to his nephew today. I now know that his name change to Jim wasn't the only one he went under. More about that later.
This is a picture of Jim from his service record.
It is now that some of the confusion and difficulties surrounding the identity of Jim started.
Jim was from Kalgoorlie and I found him easily in the electoral rolls. At the same address lived Jenny Everson Peake. However, in his service record it stated on several occasions that his NOK was Jenny Everett Peake. This is close but other facts didn't line up. I just couldn't conclusively link Jim to another person called Jane (Jenny) Everson Peake who I found quite a bit of detail about.
This is were the investigation got really tricky. Knowing that Jim was from Kalgoorlie I started searching the online Goldfield's newspapers using Trove. I probably used about 30 different search  combinations but came up with some interesting results.
The first was an engagement notice for a William Loneragan, the step-son of Mrs JE Peake. I knew this was the Mrs Peake I was interested in as her address (given in another engagement notice) was the same as one from Jim's service record.
I then returned to the electoral rolls and followed William and Edna through different addresses around WA. William was a radio engineer and worked at several stations including Kalgoorlie and Northam. I also had a look at the family of Edna Lemmon and to my surprise found that her father worked at the telegraph station at Applecross. Members of my family will realise the significance of this but for everyone else, I should explain that this station was very close to my grand parent's house in Alfred Cove, my parent's Applecross home and our family home in Booragoon.
The next clue from Trove was the wedding notice for William and Edna.
Once again, my family will recognise one particular location in this notice.
The next usable piece of information I found was a birth notice announcing a son to William and Edna. What the notice didn't say was what the child's name was. Interestingly, William also served during WWII in the VDC.
All this information really bought me to a dead end. Not having the son's name was the problem. I then started doing some sums. The child was born in 1941. That would mean that he would appear in the electoral rolls from about 1960. I began scrolling the electoral rolls and in 1968 came up with a likely candidate by the name of William Axxxx Loneragan. The WA Reverse Marriage index gave me his wife's name and I then found them in the White Pages. However, there was no conclusive evidence that this person was related to the William Loneragan from Kalgoorlie I was searching for.
There was nothing else to do but ring the number I had found. After explaining the reason for my call I discovered that I was indeed talking to William's son (Jim's nephew) and he was able to fill in a lot of details.
Jenny Peake had three daughter's, William was a foster child and Jim was an adopted son. Jim's name at birth was Thomas Elliot Hughes. All these name changes was what caused me to be so confused. When I spoke to William today he was able to read to me a very touching note that accompanied a photo of Jenny that said that the family was very close.
This piece of research was quite difficult. It took me a month or so to get to a point where I had a lot of different threads but it wasn't until last night that I was able to bring all the threads together. A fair amount of luck came in to play today but in the end a successful result.
Thank you to George O'C for sending me the medal and to Liane for her assistance.
The returned medal tally is now 1615.
One other coincidence in this search is that William lives in the same complex as Gail, Frank and Gloria.