25 March 2015

Neil Anderson - a story of coincidences

This story has far to many coincidences.
After the publication of the Brook story in the Canberra Times I was contacted by Dr Laurence Anderson. He had found a collection of items under a house which included three WWII medals, letters, address books and even old bank passbooks. The medals were in their original box and addressed to Neil Anderson. I had to look twice to confirm that despite their surnames being the same there was on other connection between Laurence and Neil. That was the first coincidence.
The information that Laurence provided from the the documents he found showed that Neil was a British soldier who served in the Royal Engineers. A search of Ancestry confirmed that a Neil Macarthur Anderson lived at the address that the medal were found at. I also found that he died in 1973. From the 1977 electoral roll I worked out that the name of one of Neil's daughter's is Janet Macarthur Anderson. There was no sign of this name in the 1980 electoral roll but with such an unusual first and second name combination I soon found Janet's married name. This led me to a phone number in northern NSW.
At the same time, I arranged to collect the medals from Laurence whose practice is directly opposite my office. Coincidence number 2. I wandered across the road today and met Laurence. The next coincidence is that Laurence has an interest in military history and has combined this with his hobby of film making. He recently made a short film called The White Feather. The trailer can be seen at this link. Laurence also introduced me to one of his staff who had seen the Canberra Times story and told Laurence about it knowing that he had found the Anderson medals. Yet another coincidence.
This evening I called Janet and explained what Laurence had found. I could really hear the surprise and excitement in her voice when we talked about the discovery. I now know that Neil was at Dunkirk and took part in the D Day landings.
The pictures shows Neil's medals, including a France and Germany Star. As was the custom for British WWII medals, they were issued un-named. However, as they were found in their original box of issue it is very easy to attribute them to this solider.
The returned medal tally is now 1643.


  1. Glyn,

    Another great result.

    If you need any assistance in Northern NSW, let me know.


    Ian (gri7188)