13 July 2017

Stan Wayth

This search has one of those back stories which got more interesting the more I dug.
It began with an email from Aaron B who had the British War Medal awarded to 4564 PTE Stanley Ernest Wayth, 22 Battalion. With an uncommon name like Wayth it wasn't difficult to track down Stan's family. There were large concentration of Wayth's around Queenscliff in Victoria and I found Stan's headstone was there. However, Stan's decedents later lived in the Melbourne suburbs where I had to focus my search.
A search of Stan's name bought up numerous hits as it turns out that he played football for Geelong. He was the 99th player selected for this football club and played one game. This was a victory so he has a 100% W-D-L average. This link gives all of his statistics.
The next reference to Stan that I found was a news paper article about his death in 1932. While I couldn't quite work out why his headstone has the comment 'Finally at peace 4/2005', it is clear that Stan had an unfortunate end to his life.
The search then got a little confusing as his son was also named Stanley Ernest Wayth. I went around in circles for a few days until I located a memorial notice (below) which refers to 'Mrs Stan Wayth'. This is Stan junior's wife Olive, nee Williamson. Based on the service details I went back to the WWI records and I worked out Olive's brother Robert (known as Roy) enlisted in 1915 aged 15 years and 6 months. A year later he was KIA at Pozieres age just 16 years and 6 months.
The notice also give me a clue as to who was Stan and Olive's son, also called Robert and also known as Roy. Roy died in 2015 and from his death notice I got his son's name, Ross, and also that of his grand daughters.
Through Face Book I sent a message to Stan senior's great great grand daughter and she put me in touch with Ross. The circumstances made it possible for me to meet Ross today and hand him his great grand father's BWM. Ross, who is a really nice gentleman, gave me one more surprise in this story, his middle name is Stanley, which carries on the family tradition.
The returned medal tally is 2127.

10 July 2017

CPL V D P Sutherland

This Australian Defence Medal has done the rounds.
It was recovered in December 2016 by the NSW Police  Service and found its way to Senior Constable Jackie Largo. Jackie definitely goes to the next level to see recovered items returned to their owner. In this case she sent the medal to Defence and then it made its way to me via Polly from DCO. Because the medal was a recent award, I had to call on a contact, Paul, to confirm the full name of 52759 V D P Sutherland.
It turns out that the initials, V D P, stand for Vincent De Paul. From there it was pretty easy and 20 minutes after starting this search I was talking to Vincent who tells me the medal was stolen from him. It is his only entitlement having served from 1954 to 1960 as an ARA solider.
The returned medal tally is now 2126.


05 July 2017

Double success

A double success story from Bill.

As I sat down to write this story I almost felt like just saying; ‘here is a list and they are home’. But to do so would be to deny the magnificent input that we receive from the Australian Genealogical Surname Group (AGSG), who pieced together a chain what at first appeared to be random links.
The story of the return of the medals of WR/1757 Writer Mary Ursula Blyth started with a phone call from the Victorian Police. Mary’s medals had been found in a street in Broadmeadows and had been handed.
Shayne from the Victorian Police said to me when we spoke, ‘have chased everywhere, I know her name, date of birth, where she was born, but nothing else, my resources ran out. Can you help?’  And so my search began.
As I worked through the search I started to quickly get a good idea of why Shayne had run out of clues (that’s a pun Glyn).
It was here that Trove and its record of Victorian Newspapers gave me the first link to Mary, it was her Marriage to Max. Then, the same as for Shayne, all avenues dried up. It was here that I then turned to the AGSG.
In short order through the skills of Liz, Kerrie and Jenn I had, not only had the birth and name of a child, but also everywhere Mary and Max had lived from their marriage up until just before their deaths.
Then came the easy part, or so I thought. A wander down to the Electoral Office and look up the son.  No problem, right? The problem came when I could not find a phone number for Garth (the son), it turned out later that he, like so many others, have forsaken landlines for mobiles.
It then became a serendipity search through the Internet, mixing parts of Garth’s name and the address that I discovered in the Electoral Rolls. I then got lucky and could call Garth.
While in many ways this has been a pretty straightforward search that led to a successful conclusion, what I could not answer for Garth was what were his mother’s medals doing in Broadmeadows. From his knowledge, no one in the family had ever lived in that area. Another question that will probably never be answered is where they have been since 1994 when his Mary passed away. I cannot also answer the question about where his father Max’s medals are which disappeared at or about the same time. The other thing that caught my eye was the almost perfect condition of the medals.

Regular visitors to this site will be by now will be used to the opening introduction that Glyn and I have to fall back on, namely: ‘As the medals form part of an ongoing investigation we have been requested to not publish any of the details concerning the search’.
The medals of VX96446 Private Kevin Victor James Tonge, fall into this category, all I can say is that after an incredible search that started in June 2016, Kevin’s medals are home with his daughter.

The returned medal tally is now 2124.

01 July 2017

James Waddell

Bill and I get a lot of satisfaction helping out the different Police forces around Australia. We are often contacted about medals that have been recovered after a property search or have been handed in. The circumstances often mean we can't tell the full story but being able to assist gives us considerable gratification.
This return started with an email I received earlier this week from Senior Constable Jessica L of the NSW Police Service. She had a set of miniature medal which are hard to research as there is no identifying number or name on them. Luckily, there was one full size medal recovered which was named to NX203566 Captain James Ronald Waddell.
Post WWII, James was a doctor in NSW. He  has two sons who are also doctors. It was pretty easy to follow both of these men until 2013. Dr T now lives in the UK and all I could find was a business address. Dr S had a practice in western Sydney but the numbers listed on the Internet from 2013 are now allocated to other businesses.
For a days I was stumped and writing to the UK address seemed to be the only solution. I applied a little bit of lateral thinking and found the name of the receptionist from Dr S' practice. But the only person with the same initial/name combination in the White Pages lives on the NSW North Coast. Working on the assumption that similar punts have paid off, I provided Jessica the phone number.
To my very pleasant surprise I received an email today telling me that Jessica's message had been passed to Dr S. Jessica went on to say "Both lots of medals have been returned to a very happy Dr S. He stated his father passed away in 1975 and they haven't seen the medals for nearly 20 years".
The returned medal tally is now 2120.

28 June 2017

Edward Roy Harding

There is so much to the story of this soldier which can not be told so the only details from Bill's most recent success is what is on the public record.
3041 2nd Corporal Edward Roy Harding was in the 5th Engineer Company, AIF and then later the Australian Army Pay Corps. He was wounded twice and very late in the war he was awarded the Military Medal. This link is to the recommendation for the Military Medal.
Following WWI Edward wasn't done with serving his country. He served in the RAAF as a Flying Officer.
This medal is Edward's WWII War Medal.
The returned medal tally is now 2115.

27 June 2017

Thanks for your service podcast

I was recently invited to speak with Dave from the Thanks for your service website. Our conversation as a podcast can be found here.

24 June 2017

Leonard Bridger

More great work by Bill.

The story of the medals of 439080 FSGT Leonard Arthur Bridger and the
search for his family is so very much like many of the searches Glyn and I
have conducted lately.
Derek who had the medals was never very sure of their history, other than
the fact that his father, a jeweller, had come across them over 30 or more
years ago. While he had tried, he was never able to find Leonard's
Derek admitted that, try as he might, he too had been unsuccessful in his
search. It was this that took him to ANZAC House in Melbourne and then to
Perhaps the greatest problem I faced as I started the search was the total
absence of anything written or otherwise about Leonard. War Graves had nothing, and neither did any newspapers. It was only through searching cemetery lists
that I found Leonard and his date of cremation. I also found his wife
Dorothy's date of cremation. However, both sets of ashes had been scattered.
Now at this point I could perhaps point to a long and complicated search,
ploughing through 'Trove', the State Library et al. But I can't.
It was 6.01 PM on the 21 June 2017 when I posted a query on the Australian
Surnames Genealogical Group web site.
By 7.44 PM again on the 21 June 2017, I had Leonard’s family all laid out in
front of me.
Then it became a decision who was Leonard's medals to go to?
It was a question I did not have to decide, the family did it for me.
Leonard's medals are going to his nephew David. They will join Leonard's
watch and many of his other personal things that were willed to him.
I am often asked how medals get lost. Well first take the ribbons off
them, as the medals are pictured. Now put them in a small
metal or wood box, along with a mix of other coins, particularly 'old' round 50
cent coins, buttons, the odd broach, badges and cuff links and they hide
very well. Very well indeed.
The returned medal tally is 2114.

22 June 2017

James Bruce

This search took Bill almost a decade.

For followers of this blog, the competition between Glyn and myself to how quickly we can return medals, does at times lead to some funny stories about the nature of the return and how quickly medals have been returned.
The story of the return of 37607James Elliott Bruce fits neither category. I received James’s medal at Christmas 2008, it had been found in a skip amongst discarded rubbish. It shows a hard life, particularly the edge. But it was not till I sat down on the 21 January 2009 that the search started. Almost as soon as it started it stopped; the reason? James had spent most of his life moving between Victoria and NSW, from Country Victoria, Daylesford actually where he was born to Prahran, where he was living when he enlisted to fight during the First World War. During which he was wounded and later invalided from the Army. It was at about this time, four months after starting my search, that I hit a brick wall for the first time. It would not be the last. What triggered it was being told that War Graves had no date of death for James and no resources available to me to find a date of death, let alone a burial site.
At this point I packed away the medal, wrote up my notes, and put a reminder in my electronic diary to revisit James in three months’ time. In three months’ time I still could not find a date of death, however I did find that he had lived in Albury for a short during the 1930s. But then he disappeared and the search was temporarily archived for four months this time. And so would go the search, stopping for four months, starting again, always from scratch. Remembering that the Internet is not only in constant expansion, but it is also much of it is being rewritten at the same time and if not addressed, these changes can have a profound effect later, that you may not be aware of.
By April 2012 I had found James grave and his date of death, 29 August 1958. I had also found the date of death of his wife Jessie May Bruce (nee Hutchings) in 1965, but this was only after an exhaustive search through the family of another Jessie May Bruce. Unfortunately, you guessed it, the wrong Jessie May.
It was at this point I finally came to the conclusion that based on the information that was available, or rather the lack of, James and Jessie had never had any children.
I then went back and did a quick check through Jessie’s’ family looking for newspaper clippings, checking interments in cemeteries, but to no avail.
It was now September 2015. The search has started and stopped countless times but it was still continuing. It was now to go back and revisit the rest of James’ family tree.
In a previous story I wrote that how easy it is for a family to fragment with time and people moving, not just from suburb to suburb, but state to state. It was at this time that I started to research James’ sister, Charlotte and her line. It was this that took me to James’ nephew, Leslie, and sadly a failing memory. At this point, having reached that plateau where things don’t make sense, I again packed everything away. In January this year I started again, this time finding that Leslie had passed away. I then went directly to his children and one of James’s great nieces. It was at this point that the search finally came to a halt. Success at last.

When the medal went off yesterday it did so with the address of a medal mounter who will not only remount the medal but clean it so that it can be worn. I also included instructions how Leslie’s family can claim his medals for WW2 service medals.

The returned medal tally is now 2112.