30 March 2015

Thomas Joshua Lyons

Readers who have have seen the Lost Medals Australia Face Book page might recall that on Friday I was interviewed by ABC Newcastle about a WWI Victory Medal awarded to 3839 Thomas Joshua Lyons. The medal had been found by Rod Pritchard who was doing some metal detecting.
From the time I was first contacted, at about 1200, until I spoke on air at 1540, I was able to piece together a family tree and provide the presenter the name and phone number of Thomas' great nephew.
Thomas was 42 when he enlisted, single and his next of kin was his sister Gertrude Muggleton. Thomas was allocated to 31st Battalion and on 26 October 1917 he died of wounds received fighting in Belgium. He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. Thomas also had a brother, James. The usual precedence was that if a single mean who died and he had no parents, any medals were sent to the eldest brother. However, there is a letter on the service file stating that Thomas' medals were to be sent to Gertrude.
My search got off to a shaky start. Gertrude's married name was mispelt as Muggleston and I went down a rabbit hole. Once I worked out it should be Muggleton I got lost again but then found that Gertrude's full name was Ellen Gertrude. That was the key to unlocking the entire story.
Gertrude married Henry (known as Harry) Charles Muggleton. Gertrude died in 1954 and Henry in 1961. The electoral rolls provided the name of their son, Noel Thomas, know as Tom. I wondered if the use of Thomas was in memory of his dead uncle.
Tom had a large family and it didn't take long to work out the names of his eight children. In the 1980 electoral roll (the last available on line) is listed Tom's son Leo Bernard Muggleton. This was to unusual combination of names to ignore and within seconds I found that Leo is a Sydney base lawyer.
I provided all the details to the ABC who contacted Leo today and told him the full story. Leo was later interviewed but unfortunately I was in a meeting and couldn't listen in.
I spoke to Leo tonight and found out a bit more information. As I suspected, the name Thomas has traveled down the generations. Leo has also visited Thomas' grave in Belgium.
I think that Rod who found the medal should be congratulated on making the effort to see that this medal was returned to the family.
The returned medal tally is now 1647.


  1. Well done Rod ... and what a wonderful outcome :)

  2. Thank you Glyn and your team for all your hard work. It was an extraordinary day yesterday when I was contacted by the ABC at Newcastle and told of the discovery of this medal. The medal was stolen from my parents house in 1983 along with a lot of other memorabilia and pre-decimal coin collections.

    I knew nothing about this medal as my father never spoke of his family or relatives for what reason I do not know. The only thing I knew about this particular person was that in the mid 90's my mother gave me a medallion from the Australian government to record the death of my great uncle.

    When I was in Normandy last October, I suddenly remembered my late mother doing this and emailed my sister Darina to ask her what details she knew of this great uncle as perhaps I could visit his grave if he was indeed killed in Europe. Through another amazing coincidence she had attended that day a funeral for a good friend and met a lady who was into genealogy and she discussed my request with her. That lady came up with the name Lyons which was a small help but there were still over 300 of them registered as serving in the First World War. The medallion my mother had given me could not be located. Through the efforts of my sister and her friend I was given the name Thomas James Lyons and through a process of elimination actually found his records at the Australian War Memorial site.
    What a larrikin he was. If anybody wants to read a good story, please go into his records as he was 42 years and 8 months when he enlisted, a single man being a commercial traveller from Victoria, and a huge physical presence. He was court-martialled for disobeying an order and strangely changed his name by statutory declaration in January 1917 when he went AWOL in England for a short time. I believe I am the first relatives to actually ever visit his grave.

    There are many questions surrounding why he enrolled at such a late age, why had he never married, why did he go AWOL in England and change his name, why was his Battalion actually at Polyoon Woods the day he received his wounds when they were supposed to be resting at Armenteries?

    All I can say is I am eternally grateful for the return of the medal and will reunite it with the medallion given to me by my mother.

    Please keep up the good work.

    Leo Muggleton