27 December 2016

Thomas Sparks

It has been a few years since either Bill or I have received a old tin full of bits and bobs including medals. This particular collection came to me from Alice and Avon H who found it in a property they purchased. They were told that the tin had originally been found at the local tip.
The tin contains many items connected to NX585 Thomas William Sparks. There are his medals, his discharge certificate and other documents, badges and other personal items. From his number it is clear that Sparks was an early enlistee from NSW. What came as a surprise to me is that he was a member of the 6th Division Cavalry Regiment which was immediate familiar to me as a fore runner to a unit I have served in: 2nd Cavalry Regiment. This is Sparks entry for this unit.
When I received Alice's first email about this collection I found a bit of information about Sparks quite quickly. While he lived for many years in NSW, I found that he was buried in Queensland. I also found his wife's name was Nancy. Using the search parameters of their first names and being resident in Queensland, I found the 1980 electoral roll entry for Thomas and Nancy living on the Gold Coast. This is the last roll available online so a bit of luck had gone my way. Also listed at the same address was another Thomas Sparks which I assumed to be their son. That is where I felt the research until the medals arrived just before Christmas.   
This afternoon I double checked my research and came to the same conclusion and found one person in the White Pages whose initial/name combination matched the 1980 electoral roll entry. I took a punt and called the number to find that I had the right connection. I had located Sparks' son.
Thank you Alice for trusting me and sending all these items to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1992.

13 December 2016

Percival James Chandos Mellor

It often mystifies me how medals end up where there do. Especially when they originate from the other side of the world and there is no obvious explication as to how they got to Australia.
The BWM awarded to 329149 Sapper Percival James Chandos Mellor was sent to me by the Narrogin RSL. Narrogin is a small farming community about 200km south east of Perth but when I had a close look at Percival's history there is no link with this part of Australia.
Percival was a 42 year old, single schoolmaster from Birmingham UK, when he enlisted in August 1918. His corps was the Royal Engineers and he arrived in France just before the armistice.
Percival married in 1929 aged 53 but there is no other record I could find until the probate of his will in 1960. His estate was valued at a little over 3000GBP and the beneficiary was named as Andrew John Perry, schoolmaster. The only other lead I found was on an Ancestry tree which put me in contact with the family of Percival's brother.
Without some serious research I don't think that I'll be able to work out how the medal got to Narrogin. Thanks to Lorraine of the Narrogin RSL who trusted me to complete this research on their behalf.
The returned medal tally is now 1982.

23 November 2016

V G 'George' Dougherty

Another two medals that Barry sent me along with the Doran pair are the British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to 6080 ER-SGT Virgil 'George' Gladstone Dougherty. This search was completed with in 24 hours of me receiving the medals while the Doran search took 18 hour - thank you Internet.
George was a widower when he enlisted for WWI. His eldest, Emily. was listed as his next of kin. George married a second time and had another daughter who died as an infant. I then went back to and researched Emily who married Henry Colin Gadd and it is this family who I tracked down tonight.
As part of my search I also found a picture of George which was published in 1916.
The returned medal tally is now 1981.

Edgar Winslow

I've mentioned my friend Catherine Hindson in several posts and this is another occasion where our paths come together again.
Catherine contacted me recently about some medals a friend of hers had. One of the medals, a BWM, was awarded to 3128 Edgar Wade Winslow. Winslow was easy to follow through the electoral rolls. I had the name of his daughter which was Olwyn and that of her daughter Judith. Then the trail ran cold.
Searching further afield I found a family tree which included all these names so I contacted the tree owner and they are all related. I'll send the medal back to this family shortly.
Thank you Catherine and Yvonne for sending the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1979.

Jim Peake - part 2

I first published this story about Jim Peake in Feb 2015. There were several coincidence involved in the original return and I didn't think there would be any additional information. That assumption was turned on its head recently when I received a message from former soldier Russ Constable who had come across one of Jim's WWII dog tags while metal detecting at Lake Tinaroo in FNQ.
Russ tells me that this area of Queensland was used for training prior to the troops going off to the Pacific. Later the area was flooded when the Tinaroo Dam was built. However, recent drought conditions has caused the water levels to drop exposing parts of the lake floor for the first time in years. Russ got to work detecting this location and has found several items including the dog tag.
You can imagine Russ' surprise when he started researching Jim and came across my story. A letter from Russ arrived today and I'll forward everything on to Jim's nephew Bill.
The returned medal tally is now 1978.

2LT Victor Doran

When I discover that a solider I'm researching was killed in action there is always a feeling of sadness. This particular story took on another dimension when I realised that two sons from this family died within months of each other.
Victor Frederick Doran enlisted in 1915 and proceeded with 16th Battalion to Gallipoli. He was later selected for officer training and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He rejoined his battalion in April 1917 and then was killed in action on 11 June 1917 at Messines.
On the front page of Victor's service record I saw a note about 3101 Albert Phillip Doran so I had a look at his record. Albert was KIA on 20 October 1917. Both of the brother's records have copies of correspondence from their father trying to get more information or establish the whereabouts of their belongings. It is impossible to imagine what their mother went through having lost both her sons. It is probably not surprising that both soldier's memorial plaques have been attached to their parents headstone.
Although this family originally came from Echua they moved to WA where the Doran brother enlisted. At some point in the 1920s the parents must have moved back to Victoria. The medals were sent to me by Barry who runs a medal mounting business in WA. Barry had been given the medals by a client who hadn't realised that this group and another weren't awarded to relatives.
The returned medal tally is now 1977.

I have very kindly been provided a photo of a plaque that was placed in memory of the Doran brothers and a news paper article about it.

Edward's medals found in a storage unit

This story from Bill shows the measures we will go to in a search for a family.

By now those who read this blog will be aware medals come from many sources, some with stories come with stories which only become fully known when we find the family.
Edward’s medals came from a storage company, where they had been carefully filed away since the storage unit was opened for non-payment of his account. Unfortunately, when Edward died in 2006, he had never bothered to nominate a seconder should anything happen to him. While the contents were sold to cover Edward’s outstanding account, his medals were put aside, in the hope that someday, somehow they could be returned to his family. This didn't occur and I found myself being presented with the medals in February of this year.
As you can see, the medals were originally set up for being placed in a display case. Unfortunately the case was, I believed, dropped, the glass broken and the medals then transferred to an envelope.
Edward had two sisters and five brothers and it was only through a slow and painstaking search that we were able to locate Margaret the daughter of his eldest brother Thomas. It was the team at the Australian Surname Group that gave me Margaret’s address from 2000. However by 2008 she no longer appeared under her maiden name on the Electoral Rolls. Which if she had married in this time would be the case.
In desperation, four weeks ago I went walking, starting with Margaret’s last address where the current occupants had no knowledge of her. Finally I got lucky, one of the occupants had move into the street just before Margaret moved on. While she knew little of Margaret, she did remember that ‘the lady in question (Margaret) often used to visit the lady in the house on the corner’.
Unfortunately, the owner of the ‘house on the corner’ was not home, and while I did leave a message it would take several visits till I was able to speak to her and ask her to contact Margaret to call me. It would be a week before I was able to speak to Margaret and another week before I could deliver Edward’s medals to her. It was only then that I found out that while Edward had been married, both his son and wife died early.

The returned medal tally is now 1975.

15 November 2016

Efficiency Decoration returned

For a whole lot of reasons Bill is unable to tell us much about this particular return.
Glyn and I often bemoan little gold safety pins, that have done sterling work for decades, only to fail, usually when a family member is wearing a beloved relatives medals. However, in the case of Captain T’s Efficiency Decoration, it wasn’t a safety pin that failed but rather the ribbon that held the medal to the medal bar.
So a habit medal wearers have to get used to is occasionally, well actually each time you wear them and before you put them away, check the medals. If the ribbon or clasp is worn despite any sentimental attachment to the ribbon, get it remounted.

The returned medal tally is now 1969.

14 November 2016

More assistance to the Victorian Police

This is another example of Bill's good work assisting the Victorian Police Force. Due to an ongoing investigation following the recovery of these medals we can't say much. To quote Bill: 'the pictures speak for themselves'.
The returned medal tally is now 1968.

25 October 2016

Marcus Nash

Last week I received a package from Jackie, my contact at Australia Post in Queensland. An item had come out of its packaging so the delivery address was unknown. The item was an Army Medallion for Exemplary Service. As it turned out the medallion was on it's way to Melbourne to be presented to Private Marcus Nash for his work establishing the Blue Green Crew. His group assists ADF members, Police officers and Emergency Service members deal with PTSD. Through a few contacts I found that Marcus' CO is a friend of mine so we quickly arranged for the medallion to be sent by express post to his unit for presentation on Tuesday 25 October 2016.
I've very kindly been supplied the citation for this award which speaks for itself:

Private Marucs C Nash, Royal Australian Corps of Military Police, is awarded the Soldier's Medallion for Exemplary Service as a Private whilst posted to the 1st Military Police Battalion.
An efficient and conscientious soldier whose enthusiasm is reflected in the execution of his duties. PTE Nash's provision of support and assistance continuously seeks to improve the working environment and morale of his comrades whilst his initiative and exemplary work ethic has seen him contributing on many occasions above and beyond what is expected of a junior soldier. PTE Nash's actions have seen him become an integral and highly regarded member of the platoon who's initiative, maturity and dedication has set a fine example for soldiers of 1st Military Police Battalion.
Through his tireless and selfless work in the establishment of "The Blue Green Crew", PTE Nash has provided a unique and unparalleled opportunity to the Defence, Policing and Emergency Services community. Offering the opportunity for those facing significant stress (including PTSD) and social hardships to take a much needed break away from work related stressors to participate in an all inclusive, positive and supportive outdoors environment. Initially funding the program out of his own pocket, PTE Nash and The Blue Green Crew have positively and significantly influenced the lives of many who routinely dedicate their lives to assisting others.
PTE Nash's dedication and efforts have led to him being held in the highest regards amongst both Defence and Civilian Emergency Services communities. His initiative and ongoing work serves as an exemplary and positive step forward in today's focus on mental health and social support.
The returned medal tally is 1965.

23 October 2016

Charles Marson MSM

Yesterday I received a package from Karen F in WA which contained a Meritorious Service Medal and 1914 Star (the Mons Star). Karen lives in a small town in WA and I was intrigued how these medals came to be there.
The medals were awarded to Charles Harry Marson who was born in 1885. His parents were Richard and Sarah. From the UK census records it was apparent that Charles was a blacksmith serving in the British Army prior to 1911 as a shoeing smith. His corps was the Army Veterinary Corps.
The records got a bit confused after that as I found a Charles Henry Marson who emigrated to WA in 1920. The electoral rolls showed that this man was blacksmith and he moved around WA a bit, living in York and Perth. I had no conclusive proof that this was the same man who used the middle names of Harry and Henry until I found the death records which confirmed that Charles Henry's parents were Richard and Sarah. It was indeed the same man. It also explained how the medals came to be in WA. There is no evidence that Charles married or had any children.
From there I found a family tree belonging to Charles great great grand nephew, a direct descendant of Charles' brother Francis. This relative lives on the Channel Island of Guernsey and I'll send him the medals in the near future.
Karen also sent me several miniature medals which are the wrong combination to have been awarded to Charles. These are going to be a bit more difficult to research.
The returned medal tally 1965. Sorry Bill but the research took less than an hour.

18 October 2016

Noel Harvey

Last week I got an email from a staff member at Kapooka telling me that during a recent audit of some memorabilia they discovered that a medal they though was a replica was actually authentic. The medal was awarded to Noel Mcleay Harvey who served in the RAAF. Noel did train at the RAAF base at Uranqunity which is not far from Kapooka, but I don't think that his medal came to be there as WWII medals weren't issued until well after the war ended.
Noel was pretty easy to trace through the electoral rolls and this lead me to his three sons, one who I found in the White Pages. Very soon Noel's Pacific Star will be returned to his family.
The returned medal tally is now 1963.

16 October 2016

WWII medals to brothers

This search started with an email from a WA Police Officer who had recovered two sets of WWII medals. In his email to me, Constable Law said:
"I checked the engraved details on the medals and found that they belong to Bowyer Frederick PEARCE and John Albert PEARCE, possibly brothers or at least close relatives. The real shock to our team was when we identified that the date of death recorded for Bowyer is the 11 Oct 1942, the same date we located his medals in 2016."
What a remarkable coincidence. As it turns out Constable Law and I have a connection though Christ Church Grammar School but that is another story.
It didn't take much to find Boyer and John in the records and it turns out that Bowyer, a RAAF Warrant Officer died in India in 1940. John was killed in action on 10 June 1945 and is buried in Labuan Cemetery. 
Bowyer and John and included on an Ancestry family tree and a message sent to the owner soon put me in touch with Sue who is their niece. I now know that eight medals were stolen recently during a house break in. Sue has very kindly allowed me to reproduce the pictures below.
The returned medal tally is now 1962.

Post update 19 Oct 16
I have very kindly been provided a picture of the medals that were recovered.

Contemporary medals to RAN

Last week I received a referral that came via the Army Head Quarters. The Kings Cross Police had recovered a number of items including a set of medals. As it turned out there were items for two current members of the RAN and the additional items made the owners identifiable. I was quickly able to track both down and will send all these off shortly. I'll only show the medals here.

The returned medal tally is now 1953.

08 October 2016

The power of social media

Earlier this year Cherie put a post on my Lost Medals Australia Face Book page about some medals she had which were awarded to H W Fleming. Today Cherie let me know that as a result of this post:

'the comments and assistance flooded in. Michelle Fleming (great niece) somehow came across my post and the rest is history really.'

This is a brilliant result and well done to Cherie.
The returned medal tally is now 1942.


28 September 2016

John Miller

This story did not turn out as expected. It started with an email from Debby from the Nowra RSL who had three medals awarded to 27234 Major John Frederick Miller. Debby just happened to be in Canberra yesterday and dropped the medals off at my place last night.
The first issue, which can be seen in the photos, is that someone has attempted to erase the service details off the medals. This is a very clumsy job but the details are still visible.
The next surprise I got was when I did a internet search for John and got the hit, a story on the Medals Gone Missing page. My colleague Gary had returned a South Vietnam medal to John and very kindly provided me with John's email.
I have since spoken to John and the full story has come out. John's medals were stolen in 1981. At the time his medal group consisted of five medal. The one Gary returned, these three and an MBE. Since then John has been awarded six more medal including a CVO and an AM. John also has official duplicates of the five medals that were stolen.
As part of the Medals Gone Missing research, Gary came across a couple of photos on the AWM web site which show John and I've included these below.
Thank you to Debby and the Nowra RSL.
The returned medal tally is now 1938.

ID number

Collection typePhotograph
Object typeBlack & white
MakerKelly, Peter
Place madeVietnam: Gia Dinh Province, Saigon
Date made28 April 1966
Physical descriptionBlack & white
DescriptionNewly-arrived Commanding Officer of the 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (5RAR), Lieutenant Colonel J. Warr (right), talks with Major John Miller at the airport.

ID number
Collection typePhotograph
Object typeBlack & white
MakerColeridge, Michael
Place madeVietnam
Date made1966
Physical descriptionBlack & white
DescriptionVietnam. 1966-12-25. Major J. Miller of Dee Why, NSW, serves turkey to the 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (5RAR), in the C Company mess. It is traditional for officers to serve troops at table with Christmas dinner.

William Smith

With a name like William Wallace Roy Smith I thought that finding this soldier's family would be easy to track down. That was far from the case.
What I found interesting in William's service record was he was a prisoner of war. The details about this are a bit thin. He was originally reported missing then confirmed as a POW. It wasn't until December 1918 that he was repatriated to England.
I've filled a index card with crammed notes about William's family but getting to the current generation proved impossible. Ancestry provided some information but nothing concrete after 1980.  In desperation I asked Anne to revisit the research. Similarly, she hit many brick walls. We were on the verge of giving up when I did a last check of Ancestry to find some new information that lead us to William's grandson.
Thank you to Alan Kitchen who sent me the medal in 2010.
The returned medal tally is now 1935.

21 September 2016

John Dixon

Fantastic work by Bill and a reflection of his great relationship with the Victorian Police.

The search for the family of VX12569 John Edward Dixon owes as much to the Companies Registration Database, as any of the myriad of records I followed to find John’s son, Graeme.
It also owes a debt of gratitude to John, who found the medals in an alley and Gary, a member of the Victoria Police and guard at the Shrine of Remembrance. Gary recognised these medals for what they were; a testimony to a young man’s service to his country. It was Gary who started the process to return the medals when he contacted ANZAC House in Melbourne, seeking assistance and it was at this point I became involved.
John Dixon passed away in 1963, his wife Joyce in 1977. Unfortunately, with time many records are no longer in existence, some because they have been disposed of after being damaged through fire or water, others have been the victim of computer upgrades and not transcribed completely or accurately. Also with time, people move, phone numbers change, and the memory of neighbours also seems to dwindle.
Despite all this John’s medals are home, how we got them there, to the family it doesn’t matter and I must admit this, keeping in mind the number of times I found myself back at the beginning, neither do I.
The returned medal tally is now 1934.

15 September 2016

Another story with not a lot to tell

George’s medal have gone home.
From being found in a rubbish bin in Melbourne in 1997 to Perth in 2016, these medals have been a long journey. So where have they been? I can’t say, nor at the conclusion of the search, can I begin to guess. 
Traced back through several different organisations, each of whom appeared at some time to try and locate either ‘George’ or his family, I initially came to the conclusion that searching for a next of kin was not going to be easy. I was right. But with the help of a few good people and a large helping of stubbornness (mine) the most important thing is that in the end, George’s medals are home.
Out of respect to his memory and his family, I will say no more.
To Elizabeth, Diana and Mike, at RSL Branch Headquarters, Victoria, thank you.

The returned medal tally is now 1922.

Ewan Quick

It will come as no surprise to readers that we have very close links to ex-service organisations, or ESOs. One of Australia's best know ESO is Legacy. I was recently contacted by a senior member of Legacy in Victoria about the Philippine Liberation Medal awarded to 51070 FSGT Ewan Clive Quick. The medal had been found in a unit and handed in to Legacy.
David from Legacy had done some great work to eliminated a whole lot of possibilities but when he hit a dead end he contacted me. Ewan's name is reasonably uncommon and it didn't take long to find him in the electoral rolls. From there I worked out the names of two sons and found one in the White Pages. Armed with the phone number, David has been in touch with the family and the medal will be sent home soon.
The returned medal tally is now 1916.

Fred Hicks

The research behind this return is extensive. I've added some of the details of Anne's research to get to the point where she could identify the closest relative of V502360 Frederick Allan Anthony Hicks.
The returned medal tally is now 1915.

Frederick Allan Anthony HICKS

Born                25/9/1922 Wagga Wagga
Died                1977 St Kilda, buried 7/9/1977 Springvale Botanical Cemetery
                        Vic BDM details of both parents - Unknown

NOK                Nora Veronica Hicks (sister) – 20 Epsom Street, Kensington VIC
                        Name on ERs Nora Francis/es Hicks – appears at above address on
                        1943 ER, may have married after that. Nora born 16/12/1921

                        5 Michael Street, North Fitzroy (Clifton Hill) given on war record.
                        1963 address for Frederick – 220 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

Father             Percy Oswald George Hicks (died 1930 Victoria)
Mother           Julia Eileen Whitty (died 1924 NSW)

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Below - sisters of Julia Eileen Hicks (nee Whitty)
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Funeral Notice for Percy Hicks  
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Letter written by Nora Hicks (known as Bonnie) to a children's page, confirms her address at Corowa
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 Details details of Edith Hilda Healey (sister of Percy Hicks) and her husband Peter Augustine Healey - New Zealand
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