25 January 2017

Hugo Stach

This one of those different returns that come our way every now and then.
I was recently contacted by Rhett B who had come across a silver tray that was engraved with the name LT HF Stach. The tray had been presented to Hugo Frederick Stach for winning the 440yrd championship at the 14 Infantry Brigade sports carnival that was held in January 1919.
Rhett has asked me why this tray would have been presented and this is the reason. Following the Armistice in November 1918, sports carnivals were organised to fill in the time until transport ships could be arranged to return the troops to Australia. It is likely that this sports activity was held in England.
Hugo was pretty easy to find in the electoral rolls and in the Victorian BDM records. He was the son of Julius and Bridget Stach. The family name was actually Stach Von Goltzheim but it is not unsurprising that they dropped the Von Goltzhiem in 1914. Hugo died in 1929 having never married. I now know that Hugo was gassed during the war and never fully recovered. He had three siblings; Florence who died in 1964 also having not married; another sister, Elfrieda who married Arthur Bates and a brother Vincent who died of wounds on 26 April 1915 at Gallipoli.
This is a summary of several relatives of Hugo's who also served during WWI:
3158 Sergeant Arthur Ralph Kenney, 58th Bn, killed in action, 19 July 1916; 
3353 Pte William Harold Kenney, 6th Field Ambulance, died of wounds, 10 October 1915; 
3257 Pte Wilfred Rupert Stach, 5th Machine Gun Bn, returned to Australia, 12 November 1916; 
Lt Cyril St Michael Stanislaus Power, 60th Bn, returned to Australia, 21 July 1917; 
12381 Pte Edward Aloysius Power, 10th Field Ambulance, returned to Australia, 27 May 1919;

It is through Elfrieda and Arthur's family that the tray will soon be sent, specifically to Hugo's nephew Cecil. I am grateful to Lynne and Jennie, who is also related to Hugo, for assisting me put the pieces together.
The returned medal tally is now 2007.

Charles Gorringe

Some searches are destined to go smoothly, this is one of them. I hate to let Bill know that it took less that 7 minutes from start to finish.
It began this morning with a referral from the WA RSL. Arron S had come across the medal in a coin collection left to him by his father in 1979. There was no family connection to Arron so he contacted the WA RSL and then emailed me. The medal is a WWI British War Medal awarded to 277 Private Charles Gorringe who served with 10 ALH Regiment. Charles was 38 when he enlisted but had already served 12 years in the 10th Hussars, seeing active service in the Boer War. Enlistment date for Charles was 20 October 1914 making him one of the original members. Any one who has seen the movie Gallipoli will know that the AIF trained in Egypt prior to moving on to Gallipoli. It was during this time that the mounted infantry units were re-rolled as infantry and left their horses behind. 10 ALH Regiment arrive at Anzac Cove on 21 May 1915. One of the first action 10 ALH Regiment was involved in was at Walker's Ridge. At this location, on 16 June 1914, Charles received a shrapnel wound. I've searched the unit war diaries but there is no mention of his name. The war diaries notes that a Corporal was killed by an explosion on that date so Charles might have been wounded at the same time.His service record shows periods of hospitalisation for illness and then in 1916 he transferred to the 28th Battalion, AIF. He was further wounded twice while fighting in France as well as suffering outer illnesses. Charles was discharged in 1917 being medically unfit.
Charles and his wife Elizabeth had four children. One was Reginald William, his son is Harrison Reginald who I located in Perth. I've spoken to him today and his grand father's medal will soon be returned to the family.
Thank you Arron and Royceton.
The returned medal tally is now 2006.
 A young Harrison on his grand father's lap. Reginald is int the back ground.
 Harrison receiving Charles' medal from Arron.

Thank you Arron for providing these photos.

09 January 2017

Cecil Westwood MN

Cecil Thomas Westwood was born in Lincoln UK in 1917, the son of James and Edith (nee Broadbury) Westwood. During WWII Cecil served in the Merchant Navy. He later moved to New Zealand and continued his career as a marine engineer. He was married to Mairi Mackinnon but there is no evidence that they had any children. I've located a relative in NZ and will send them this collection shortly.
Cecil's miniature medals, his passport and several other persona items were found by the staff of the Townsville St Vincent de Paul's.
Thanks to Alicia for sending this collection to me.
The returned medal tally is now 2005.

08 January 2017

Ernest Davies - our 2000th return

The search was a reasonably complicated one which pivoted on one simple constant fact that I could follow through the both UK and Australian records.
6452 Ernest James Davies was a 33 year old single draper when he enlisted in 21st Battalion, AIF in 1916. Ernest saw service in France but he suffered from the conditions he encountered in the trenches.
Ernest was born in 1883 in Aberdare, Wales to James and Ann Davies. His parents names were in his service record so he was easy to find in the UK census records. He was one of 10 children. The problem I faced was working out which of the many men by this name was the right person living in Australia. This led me back to that one constant: Ernest was a draper.
I located the correct immigration record and found that Ernest, at the age of 30 in 1913, left the UK aboard the Orient Line ship "Otranto" for Melbourne. This helped me to narrow down the possible options in the Australian electoral rolls until I isolated the correct man based on his employment - a draper. Also at the same address was Gladys Davies who turned out to be Gladys Annie Ester Price who Ernest married in 1925 aged 42. There is no evidence that they had children so I had to go back and research Ernest's nine siblings.
One sister, Lena, married Arthur Jenkins and their son was Thomas James Jenkins. Thomas' daughter is Linda who married Neil Pxxxx. Their daughter is Sarah who I found is doctor in the UK. My only contact option was to call Sarah's practice, request their email address and hope an email would get through to her.I got far more in return than I could hope for. Sarah forwarded my email to Linda who has contacted me with some additional information which has filled in a few blanks that I had about the Davies/Jenkins connections. Linda is Ernest's great niece and I'll soon end the medal to her in the UK.
This search has been going on since June 2015 when I received Ernest's BWM from Max Howard of the Toodyay RSL. How the medal ended up in rural WA is a mystery I don't think will every be explained.
This might just be a simple medal but for Bill and me, as well as all those associated with Lost Medals Australia over the years, it marks a significant milestone as this is the 2000th medal that we have returned.

07 January 2017

Ron Towe

Great work by Bill.

The stories Glyn and I tell often fall into various categories. One is the slow but steady search, where we tick the boxes as we go. The others, well I am not sure how I would describe the return of the war medals of Ronald James Towe, but here goes.
‘About 1972, Dad was a ‘tip fossicker’ at the old Oakleigh Tip, he said he always planned to return them. I found them about ten years ago when I cleaned out his garage.' With this explanation from the donor, the search to return of the medals of 438631 Ronald James Towe began, for the second time. Or was it the third time?
The first problem I faced was the service number, my immediate reaction was that Ron had served in the RAAF. That idea lasted up until I could not find him either in the Australia War Memorial Index, nor in the Australian National Archives. The closest I came was the Index reference to a A33224, Warrant Officer Ronald James Towe. Which I found confusing in that the A33224 number was a post WW2 enlistment number, yet Warrant Officer Towe had been included in the WW2 Index.
So then it was the electoral rolls, and the help of Australian Surname Group. All went well until 1980, when the ER’s petered out. My next option and one I should have thought of first was to go to War Graves in Canberra.
Yes they did have a date of death for a Ronald James Towe. However, they showed two service numbers on the 438631 and also a second service number, A33224. So now while I could then concentrate on one Ronald James Towe, there was no mention of how War Graves had two service numbers, but the National Archives and the AWM did not.
It was a question that would not be answered until almost a year later, when I finally found and spoke to Kevin, Ronald’s brother.
At the conclusion of WW2, Ronald signed on to serve in the RAAF. Through, some error, mistake, or administrative procedure, Ron was given a new service number and all reference to his original number was erased from both the AWM and the National Archives.
Readers will note that there are only three medals involved and only one, the 1939-1945 Star, is actually impressed. This was quite common with RAAF medals issued at the end of WW2. It was the number 438631, that originally led me to believing Ron had served in the RAAF. His later issued medals carried his new service number.
Ron led an adventurous life in the RAAF, serving in Japan at Nagasaki and later at Maralinga in South Australia.
However at this point, at the request of his family, we can say no more.

The returned medal tally is now 1999. 

06 January 2017

George Patroni

I'm using a leave period to spend some time revisiting several searches which have proved difficult in the past. A fresh look and a calculated guess has resolved this case.
I received the 1914/15 Star awarded to 929 George Patrick Walton Petroni from Major Neil Leckie who has entrusted medals to me in the past. It was relatively easy to follow George through the electoral rolls but a link to the current generation of his family eluded me.
Following the War, George was a publican all around Australia so there were a few gaps in the records. I found his head stone (pictured below) which gave me the name of his children. This included the name Patricia. Today, I found one reference to a Patricia Patroni on the Victorian BDM and her marriage to J Rowlands. It then became a process of elimination through the electoral rolls and one entry for their son, Peter. This entry also gave be a general location in Victoria in 1980. I found the same name/initial combination in the White Pages for the next suburb and this became the educated guess. Sure enough, when I rang the number I had located George's grandson.
Patricia's husband served in WWII and I've added a picture of his plaque.
The returned medal tally is now 1996.

Bill Lloyd

While the story behind this medal is relatively simple it is the coincidences that have occurred to get it back to the family which are interesting.
The War Medal awarded to VX118640 Ernest William (Bill) Lloyd was another of those sent to me bu Ted Ayres from York, Western Australia. Bill was from Melbourne and lived there all his life so how the medal ended up in a small WA farming community is a mystery.
In my search for Bill I found a picture of his headstone and entries in the electoral rolls but not much else. I revisited this search yesterday, having let it rest since May 2015. To my surprise I found Bill on the Ancestry tree of Dr Alan Arnold. Alan is Bill's nephew. I was surprised even more to discover that Alan lives in Canberra and listed in the White Pages. I called Alan and found that he lives only a short distance from me. Another coincidence is that Alan lectured at ADFA for several years and many of my contemporaries were students there at the same time.
This morning I called past Alan's house and dropped Bill's medal off.
The returned medal tally is now 1995.

04 January 2017

Ronald Reoch

In many cases there is not a lot to tell about the solider, the medal or the search. This is one such case. 3837 Roland Reoch was a solider in 15th Battalion AIF. It was a reasonably easy to trace his family through the electoral rolls until 1980. It then took me over 18 months to make a connection with a family member who I can return the medal to. It will now join his brother Richard's WWII medals.
Thanks to Mark R who sent the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 1994.

03 January 2017

Jack Iredale

The WWII War Medal awarded to 427886 Jack Keith Iredale has had a pretty tough life. The medal has come away from the suspender and there are two big nicks in the rim just past the name. This is another medal sent to me by Ted Ayres and it has taken since April 2016 to locate Jack's son Rod.
The returned medal tally is now 1993.