28 June 2016

Boer War and WWI medal group

When I opened the parcel containing this medal group I was quite excited as well as a little confused. The excitement stemmed from receiving a Boer War/WWI medal combination which usually means an interesting story. The confusion came from the unit on the Queen's South Africa Medal.
It was easy to find 3435 Richard Alexander McDonald in the National Archives but the Boer War unit was a bit harder to track down. Kitchener's FS, as impressed on the medal, is Kitchener's Fighting Scouts. I found the unit nominal roll (picture below) to confirm Richard's enlistment.
Richard was born in Ireland and at some point between the 1901 and 1914 he emigrated to Australia and settled in WA suburb of Bassenden. His service records shows that he went AWOL on a couple of occasions and was wounded by a machine gun bullet. Of interest his rank is 2nd Corporal which I've not seen before. His WWI service was with 6th Field Company, Engineers.
It was rather easy to follow Richard and his family through the electoral rolls. Richard and his wife Ethel lived in Kenny St, Bassendean for their entire lives. Their eldest son Alexander also lived in Kenny St. Richard's other son, Donald, served during WWII and was a POW.
Once the online electoral rolls ceased it was a little difficult to narrow down any of Richard's descendants, however, I found a reference to Ross Alexander McDonald. I made an assumption he was Richard's grandson.
A newspaper article from the 1950's gave me the only clue of any substance. It said that Ross McDonald of Kenny St was a volunteer firefighter. The next mention of this was a 2013 online article about the closure of the historic Bassendean fire station. Ross was pictured in the story so I used this as the basis of the next line of research. Another volunteer in the story had a distinctive name and was listed in the White Pages. A call to this number soon resulted in being able to contact Ross.
I now know the medals were stolen during a burglary at Ross' house. The medals were subsequently found on the side of the road and found their way to the WA RSL who sent them to me.
Thanks to Wendy of the WA RSL for sending me the medals.
The returned medal tally is now 1843.
The keen eyed will note that the BWM is mounted incorrectly. The reverse is showing rather then the Sovereign's head which is the obverse.

Another point of interest with the BWM is that Richard's service number isn't impressed on the medal.
Nominal roll from www.angloboerwar.com

1 comment: