22 September 2018

Frederick Rankin

Another medal out of the Grafton box is the British War Medal awarded to 2864 Frederick John Rankin, 42 Battalion, AIF. The first thing I noticed was that there was a mistake with the naming. The middle initial is impressed as 'K' rather than 'J'. Although mistakes are not unknown I don't come across medals with errors to often. The initials 'F.K.' can be seen in the picture of the naming. 
Rankin was in his early 30s when he enlisted. He gave his NOK as his sister Bertha. In 1920 he married Ellen May Randles but that didn't have any children. Rankin died in 1951 and Ellen in 1959. I found a picture of their headstone which is included below.
Given that Rankin nominated his sister, Bertha, as his NOK I followed that branch of the family. I found Bertha on a family tree which belongs to the wife of Berth's great grandson. The message I sent was soon answered and within an hour of starting this search I had the address to send Rankin's medal to.
The returned medal tally is now 2259.


19 September 2018

New Zealand WWII medals

Medals awarded to New Zealand WWII soldiers don't come my way often. When they do it is usually because the soldier immigrated to Australia some time after WWII. This is the case with 24495 Frank Gaywood Eades.
Frank's medals came to me from the Albury RSL. The President of this sub-branch is a friend of mine and sent the medals to me with limited background information. I could follow Frank in the electoral rolls from the 1950s to the 1970. The only real lead I could follow was another name at the same address which I assumed to be Frank's son. Searching this name opened up what I believe to be the story of how the medal came to be sent to the RSL.
I found Frank's son's death notice from earlier this year in Alubry. It became immediately apparent that this gentlemen had lived in a care facility for more than 30 years. The medals came with the contact details of Frank's brother in New Zealand but these were no longer current. I surmised that after the death the care facility tried to call the family and when they had no luck sent the medals to the Albury RSL.
It took a bit to navigate the New Zealand records and indeed that branch of the family had moved on. As a last resort I used Face Book to message Frank's nephew and after a few days was talking to Mark and will send him the medals in the near future.
The returned medal tally is now 2258.

04 September 2018

Percy Foley 11LHR and 11 FAB

The last series of medals I've been researching, all from the Grafton Box, have provided more than the usual amount of challenges. This search was no different with the problem this time being the name the soldier enlisted under.
The National Archives of Australia lists that 1180 Trooper Percy Joseph Foley served in the 11th Light Horse Regiment. However, not long after arriving in Egypt he transferred to 11th Field Artillery Brigade. This meant that his regimental number changed to 1180a causing a bit more confusion in the research. Percy had a pretty interesting war going AWOL on numerous occasions as well as being wounded in action. When he returned to Australia he first lived in his home town of  Grafton, then moved to Sydney were he was married to Nellie but later moved back to Grafton. Percy died in 1951 having not had any children. Then the trouble for me started.
Percy appeared in the public records from 1915 through to 1936. There was no sign of him before or after this time window. It took a bit of time to work out that Percy was born Pierce Joseph Foley and later in life used Pierce rather than Percy.
Typical of the time, Percy had numerous siblings, several who died as infants, didn't marry or had no children. One sister who I could follow through the records was Sarah Jane Foley who married Charles Sare. One of their sons was Harold Hunter Sare who died aged 29 at Coffs Harbour. The local paper reported the death and mentioned that Harold had two young sons name Max and Rex. This information made it pretty easy to narrow the search for one of Percy's great nephews. I now know that Harold's youngest son, Rex, was just six months old when his father died. I'll be sending Percy's 1914-15 Star and Victory Medal to Rex in the near future. Where the British War Medal is from this trio is anyone's guess.
The returned medal tally is now 2250.

Eric Gray

The next set of medals out of the Grafton Box are the WWI pair awarded to 5584 PTE Eric Arthur Gray. The Grays were one of the early pioneer families around the Lismore area of NSW. This meant that I was able to find quite a bit of information about Eric's father John James Gray. However, tracing the family through the 1940s to 1960s was a little difficult.
Eric was married to Nellie but I can find no evidence that they had any children. This forced me to look at Eric's siblings and thanks to John's obituary following his death in 1934, I had all the names I needed. The brother I followed was Moses Caleb Gray who I now know served with Eric in the 25th Battalion, AIF. Moses diary from a year of his service during WWI is still in the family.
At this point the search became a little more complicated. Moses' daughter married Rolland, known as Rolly, but finding the names of the current generation alluded me for a while. It wasn't until I found a picture of Rolly's headstone which included the names of his children that the last piece fell into place. I've just spoken to Eric's great nephew, David, who was able to fill in the blanks for me about Moses and told be about his diary.
David has been wearing replica medals on Anzac Day in honour of Moses and now will have Eric's original WWI pair to wear as well.
The returned medal tally is now 2248.

03 September 2018

Alfred Gillett

Trying to align some family trees with public records is often difficult. That was definitely the case with 1854 PTE Alfred Gillett who served in the 1st Pioneer Battalion.
Alfred didn't do me any favours by lying about his age when he enlisted. It wasn't until I found this obituary that I realised that he put his age down by eight years in order to enlist that it all came together.

The obituary tells the story of Albert's life and confirms that he enlisted at the age of 52 and not 44 as his service record states. It is through his brother Henry that I followed the family line to the current generation and I'll return the medal to them shortly.
This is another of the medals that were sent to me by the Grafton RSL. The returned medal tally is now 2246.