18 December 2018

Medal to HMAS Sydney KIA

Growing up in Western Australia, I knew very well with story of the disappearance of HMAS Sydney during WWII (the full story are in the links below). The location of this ship remained unknown until 2008. To now return a medal awarded to one of the sailors lost on this ship is very moving. This is Bill's story of his research.

A question that Glyn and I are often asked by a family when we return a medal from a broken group is; “Do you think you will ever find the missing medals?”. My answer has been and probably will always be, ‘I don’t know’.
The search for the family of 23467 Seaman Morton James Morphett RAN, who was killed when the HMAS Sydney sank off the WA coast after a naval battle with the German Raider Kormoran, is one that ended with the same question.
This story begins in 2008 or thereabouts when Morton’s 1939-1945 War Medal was found in front of the Windsor (NSW) War memorial. The medal was found less its ribbon, which may explain how the medal came to be lost. Whoever was wearing it may have just pinned to a coat, relying on a safety pin to keep it securely in place. It didn’t. Over the last 10 years, this medal has passed through many hands. What they discovered along the way sadly was never recorded. There were times I felt more like an auditor than a researcher when I stumbled over the trail of someone who had gone before me. The major problem was where an auditor may have a complete set of records, mine were largely non-existent
Out of respect and at the request of Morton’s family, I have not include the details of the search.
This afternoon, after I have completed this story for our blog I will, as I have so often in the past, wander down to my local post office and mail off to Morton’s great nephew Craig, Morton’s medal. This will bring to close the beginning of the search for Morton’s medals. A search started by his brother Warren, who also served in the RAN during WW2, but who sadly died in 2011, and who had for many years searched for his brother’s medals, even wearing a set of replicas along with his own on ANZAC Day.

The returned medal tally is now 2293.


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