30 August 2018


Bill's persistence really paid off with this return.

It is nearly ten years since ‘Robert’ bought a set of WW1 medals impressed to 1423 PTE Private George Chioman, RWR. The source was a deceased estate auction in Victor Harbour, South Australia.
From his research Robert believed the medals may have come to Victor Harbour via Queensland. In the end he posted an advert in the ‘Found Medals’ Section of ‘Vetaffairs', the magazine published by the Department of Veteran Affairs. It was there that I saw his request for help. This is where my part of the story begins.
While the 1423 regimental number was compatible with the Australian numbering scheme used during the First World War, it was the RWR that directed me to the United Kingdom. This led me to find the medal card of Private George Chipman, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
With the aid of Jenn from the Australian Genealogical Surname Group, we were able to track forward to George’s grandson, Stephen, who still lives in England. .
George Chipman, who died in England in 1961, had an eventful war. He was taken prisoner in 1917, and saw out the last years of the war as a POW in Munster, Weestfalen, Germany. To say that Stephen was astounded to get a call from Australia, is putting it mildly.
As to how George’s medals got to Australia, that is another story.
It is an amazing co-incidence that, as we were contacting Stephen, he received another email from a lady who had come into possession of a POW post card, that George had written to his brother, Albert along with a photo that she believed to be George. Out of respect to George’s family we have refrained from posting the photo. However, the post card is in itself a snapshot of history.
Perhaps I should close with the email that Robert sent to Stephen. It says it all:

Hello Stephen
My name is Robert xxxx I live in a town called Victor Harbor, a coastal town 80k South of Adelaide, South Australia.
About 10 years ago I purchased a set of WW1 medals at a deceased estate in Victor Harbor. 
There is a slight possibility these Medals may have found their way down from Queensland (Aust).
I tried on many occasions to find a relative to hand over the Medals, but had no luck searching Aust Archives.
I posted a “found Medals ad”, in a paper published by Aust Veteran Affairs. 
I was soon contacted by a Military history/research group who were prepared to take up the search on my behalf.
They had access to records world wide, and soon came up with a “hit”.
The rest is, as they say, history.
Whilst this search was going on I was contacted by another WW1 Veteran’s family who said, the Service number is the same as our Grand Fathers!
It seems the British and Aust Government used the same numbering system during WW1, hence the duplication of numbers.
I am a Vietnam Veteran, my Father a WW2 Veteran and my Grand Father a WW1 Veteran.
My, and my families Medals are very precious to me.
So, would you like me to post the Medals to you, it would be my pleasure.
Their was a huge amount of time and effort put into tracking the rightful owners, we both owe the “team” A HUGE THANKS AND WELL DONE!

The returned medal tally is now 2245.


29 August 2018

Trooper Tom Barnes - Australian Horse.

This Queen's South Africa Medal came to me recently as part of a box of medal forwarded by the Grafton RSL Sub-Branch.
Most of the information I could find about Trooper Thomas Walter Barnes was from newspaper articles available from the National Archives of Australia web site - Trove. I've added two of the most interesting articles below.
The official record shows that Barnes had the regimental number '5' and served in the Australian Horse. However, the medal gives his number as '8'. It is most likely that the medal is incorrect.
Barnes was born in 1875 and spent his early years around Murrumburrah, NSW. He belonged to the Murrumburrah detachment that made up the Australian Horse contingent. Barnes had two daughters but I've been unable to establish if either had children of their own. He died in Gladesville, NSW in 1937.
I found Barnes included on an Ancestry family tree which is owned by Barnes' great nephew. It is to this family I'll return the medal to in the near future.
The articles are really interesting, especially the comments about Barnes' horse and reference to Banjo Paterson.
The returned medal tally is now 2242.

A new NSW box

Long term visitors may remember the excitement over the NSW RSL box of medal that came my way some years ago. A recent arrival from the Grafton RSL Sub-Branch was a box of medals awarded to 14 different veterans ranging from the Boer War to the Korean War. Most impressive is a WWI Military Medal. I have one result already and will post the story shortly.

19 August 2018

Ray Curtis and the Battle of Coral

Lost items come to us through the most unusual sets of circumstances. This all started with an email from a friend of mine and fellow officer, Leo M. He had purchased an old army trunk from a recycle center and inside found an identity disc belonging to 214950 R G Curtis.
A bit of research showed that Ray Curtis was a Platoon Sergeant in 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment at the time of the Battle of Coral. This link is to a picture on the Australian War Memorial website which shows Ray inspecting a captured weapon following the battle.
Finding Ray's contact details proved a little difficult to find so I used the 1 RAR network to get a message through to him. I am very grateful that my email passed through several supportive former battalion members, including jcal, to reach Ray.
Today I connected Ray and Leo so that a return can be arranged.
The returned medal tally is now 2241.

16 August 2018

Fromelles KIA part 2

Bill and I get numerous requests to find medals that have been lost for many years or known to have been sold in the past. This is an almost impossible task. However, Bill has achieved the impossible.

For those of you who follow this Blog, you would be quite used to Glyn and I receiving medals then going looking for either, the recipient, or a next of kin. This story goes the other way.
It is a story that has been two years in the making and it came in two parts; this is part 2.
If I take you back to 1st July 2016 and the story of the search for the Death Plaque of 1707 Pte Cyril David Jones, who was Killed in Action at Fromelles on the 20 July 1916, I introduced you to Lee his great niece and her search for the plaque and medals of her great Uncle. 
This is the continuation of that story. When I returned the plaque to Lee, her final words, after her profuse thanks, were of the order: ‘do you think you’ll ever find the medals?” My answer, the only one I could honestly give her, was “I don’t know, I just don’t know”. 
However, I added Cyril’s name to my weekend Internet search roster. 
Shortly after returning Cyril’s Plaque, I was approached by the new memorabilia officer of the RSL Club that had been given Cyril’s plaque and medals in 1972. He asked me would I complete the lists that I had started on several years before, a request to which I agreed. This was for two reasons, the first that I had no luck blind searching on the internet. Secondly it allowed me to search much more thoroughly the club and its environs than I had before. 
My first step was to make up a list of any and all of the retirement homes within a 5 Km radius of the club, homes whether they were associated with the RSL or not, but where someone from the club may have in the past set up a display. Then came the follow on phone calls, to which the answers varied from “No we have no RSL stuff here” to “Yes, we do”. It soon appeared that at some time in the past, the club’s previous memorabilia officer had a very large list of homes that he and his wife would regularly visit changing over the display to match up with various military campaigns that Australian forces had been involved in. Usually the comments received digressed to the fact that he had not been for quite some time, almost two years, in fact, which aligned with his passing.  And so started my visit program. 
It is now two weeks since I rang Lee, asked her to sit down, and told her I had found Cyril’s medals. They were in a plastic shopping bag at the back of a display cabinet. Last Saturday I had the privilege of returning Cyril’s medals to his family.
This has, as I said above, been along search, nearly two years in fact. I do not think I would ever like to do it again. If Cyril had not been one of the fallen at Fromelles, had I not got involved in the search for the NOK of the fallen, met Sandra Playle and Tim Lycett and some truly fine Australians, I don’t know if I would have had the determination to keep going.

Sandra and Tim have been friends of mine for many years, this is another wonderful connection to the amazing research they have done.
The returned medal tally is now 2240.

13 August 2018

An Australian Defence Medal returned

More and more, medals are coming to us from the Police after they have been recovered following a suspected theft.
Recently, the South Australian Police located an Australian Defence Medal and an 'I am an Australian Soldier' medallion in a car and the driver's name didn't match the name on the ADM. Constable Ben S sent an email to the South Australian RSL requesting assistance and this email was forwarded to me.
The ADM had the soldier's employee number, initials and name but the medallion had his full name. I used this information to find him on Face Book and discovered that we have a mutual friend. I fired of a message asking for Constable Ben's contact details to be passed on and left it at that. Today I have received word that the solider has been in contact with SAPOL. Very soon his ADM and medallion will be sent home.
Thanks to Nathan K from RSL Care in SA and Brad C for your assistance.
The returned medal tally is now 2238.

06 August 2018

Patrick Fendlen

The search for 4907 Patrick James Fendlen of the 53rd Battalion, AIF, started with an email from Terry M who had come across Patrick's British War Medal amongst his father's WWII medals.
The search for Patrick was some what difficult as his name was sometimes spelt with an 'i' in place of the second 'e'. Once I worked out that he lied about his age to enlist the pieces started to fall in to place.
He was born in 1870 making him 44 when he enlisted but stated his age as 34. He was married to Rachel but this was her second marriage and she already had four children. Rachel died while Patrick was still serving in France although he was returned to Australia for health reasons not long after.
In Patrick's service record there is a letter from his brother saying that there was no children from the marriage to Rachel and I couldn't find any connection between Patrick and Rachel's children after she died.
Patrick later married Mary Sayer, however, that marriage didn't last long as in 1920 a warrant was issued for Patrick's arrest for the desertion of Mary. The warrant gave his age as 54 which verified my calculations about him lying about  his age on enlistment. Patrick spent time in Darlinghurst prison and died in 1937. 
I've tracked down a distant relative who is also the family historian and he will hold the medal until a closer relative is found if this is possible.
It was great to connect Terry and Wayne about Patrick's medal and provide them both with addition details about Patrick. Although, how his medal came in to Terry's father's possession remains a mystery.
The returned medal tally is now 2236.