24 August 2015

Robert Cocking

Bill says that this is a story that wanders.

Many of the medals that come to us, come as ‘orphans’. While we initially know nothing of the veteran but we do have a means of identifying them, in many case the people who pass the medals to us often admit to knowing even less. In the case of the British War Medal awarded to 3268 Gunner Robert Thomas Cocking, it came from a small parcel sent to me from ANZAC House in Melbourne. It had, along with a varied collection of other medals, been recovered by the Victorian Police, who as the law dictates were somewhat circumspect in passing the source.
From a simple search using his reported death in the Argus Newspaper of both the 2nd and 16th May 1917, along with the Victorian BDM’s and the help of the Team at The Australian Surname Group, I was soon able to deduce the family tree. But then it got hard, as the Cocking family were again hit by tragedy when Robert’s sister Clara passed away in 1932. Her death notice referred to a daughter Gwynoth and her husband Walter Meryment, but nothing else.
So at this time I decided to look to Robert’s brother’s family.
It was relatively uncomplicated up until Arthur Cranston Cocking married in 1924. Perhaps the records say it best, Arthur Cranston married Mona Lyons Ford or Mona Lyonsford, either way Arthur Cranston Cocking disappeared to be replaced by Arthur Cranston who literally disappeared until I found his enlistment papers from WW2. What I did find interesting was that a M. Forty was given as his next of kin.
Taken as a Prisoner of War on Crete in 1941, Arthur suffered ill health from his release in 1945 until his untimely death in 1973. But even with the electoral rolls the search slowly ground to a halt as the undertakers were unable to locate any documentation. The only further reference I could find of Arthur was having his name of the Ballarat POW Memorial.
So now it was back to Gwynoth and the discovery of a newspaper entry of Walter’s request for administration of Clare’s will. All of this documentation had originated in NSW.
Now it was to the NSW BDM’s, and after a while of mucking around found ‘Gwynoth’s’ marriage as Gwyneth Clare Meryment to a Clarence Ready.
A week ago I spoke to Steve, Gwyneth’s son who advised me quite proudly that his mother was still alive. So tomorrow I will stop by the Watsonia Post Office and when I ring Steve tomorrow evening it will be to tell him that Robert’s British War Medal, one of three medals his father claimed in 1921 are coming home. 

The returned medal tally is now 1709.

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