Sometimes it is the story behind the return of medals that is more interesting than the actual search itself.
It is six years since Fiona Curtis, a serving officer in the Australian Army, contacted Glyn asking advice in regard to how she could go about finding the WWII medals awarded to the grandfather VX35794 Private Robert James Haynes. The medals had been stolen 20 years ago.
Now let's step forward six years to when the Melton Vietnam Veteran's Association were renovating their premises. It was here that Vietnam War veteran Ray Evans found a set of WWII medals in the back of a cupboard. Ray tells us that no one know where they came from or who put them there. Ray's best guess is that someone had anonymously handed them in and they were put away for safe keeping. With out trying to be to humorous about it, they were safe until they were discovered recently. Like many presented with a challenge, Ray jumped at it and rang all the Haynes in the Melton area. Unfortunately, he had no luck finding either the veteran of the next of kin.
It was several weeks later that someone referred Ray to a 'bloke at Watsonia RSL, Bill Wyndham, who returns medals'. That referral started the next phase of the search.
It was a search that took me two days to finalise thanks to the data generously provide by War Graves, information from the Victorian State Library and the electoral rolls. This all led me to Robert's daughter Robyn who lives in Perth.
This was all finalised last week when Robert's son Frank and granddaughter LTCOL Fiona Curtis met Ray and the team at Melton. The family thought there was to much risk in having the medals posted so they chose to collect them. This photo is of
Photo and story courtesy of the Leader Newspaper
The returned medal tally is now 1759.
Melton Vietnam veteran Ray Evans (centre) returned the World War II medals of Robert Haynes, which were stolen 26 years ago, to his son Frank Haynes and Frank’s daughter, Lieutenant Colonel Fiona Curtis. Picture: ANDY BROWNBILL
FRANK Haynes thought the medals his father Robert received for service in World War II had been lost forever following a burglary in 1989.
But 26 years after they were stolen, they have been reunited with the family and it’s all thanks to Melton’s Vietnam veterans.
Melton veteran Ray Evans discovered the medals in the back of a cupboard, when the association was preparing to move to its new home at the Willows Historical Park earlier this year.
And so, he set about trying to find their rightful owner.
“When I found them tucked away in the back of a cupboard no one knew how they got there. It’s possible they were handed in anonymously many years ago,’’ Mr Evans said.
“But the name Robert Haynes was engraved on them so I rang every Haynes in Melton to give them back and had no luck.”
“I was going to post them to her, but the family didn’t want to risk losing them again so we arranged for them to be picked up personally. I was just so proud that we could do this,” Mr Evans said.
Mr Haynes, who lives in Mooroolbark, travelled to Melton with his daughter Lieutenant Colonel Fiona Curtis, from Newton, on November 19, for the priceless medals.
He said he was shocked and thought his father’s medals were lost forever.
“Dad died in 1995, aged 78, and for years we have been compiling his war history in a scrap book, but it was never complete, until now.”
Lieutenant Colonel Curtis said to be able to wear her grandfather’s medals on Anzac Day meant so much.