16 June 2019

Ted Newman - WWII group of 4 medals

By just saying that this search took 30 hours from start to finish belies the research effort that went in to locating the family of Ted Newman.
I collected the WWII group of four medals and other personal items belonging to NX174330 Edward (Ted) John Newman from the Post Office on Friday afternoon. The medals were sent to me by Boyd T who had the medals as the result of being the Executor of the Estate of the brother of Ted's second wife. Are you with me so far? This is just the start of the complications I faced in this search. 
I started looking at Ted and his family yesterday at 1000. As the search progressed I found little documentary evidence and when I did it only gave me 1/2 a clue and then there was no other evidence to corroborate that clue. I started with what Boyd know of Ted. That is, he was married and had a son. He then divorced and remarried to his second wife, Barbara. Boyd was able to tell me that Ted died in 1974. The electoral rolls from 1950 to 1974 gave me no additional information.
I found Ted's death notice and the next 1/2 clue. The notice provided the name of Ted's son, Warren and his wife Mary Anne (the spelling varied across sources). However, a reasonably common name like Warren Newman was difficult to pin down in the public records. For a couple of hours I just couldn't find Warren or Maryanne and out of desperation looked at the NSW marriage records which, on line, are available up to 1969. To my immense relief I found Warren's marriage from 1968, this included his middle name and Maryanne's maiden name. Other than confirming their address until 1980 and yet another variation of Maryanne's name, I got no more information. The White Pages was of no help.
What I also gained from Warren's marriage details was the area he was in at the time, this combined with Maryanne's unusual surname sent me down another line of inquiry. I found several families with the same name in the same geographic area and one family tree on Ancestry. Even though Maryanne wasn't mentioned in this tree I had no where else to go so I sent off a message to the tree owner.
By the time I got to this point of the search it was 1800 last night and eight hours of frustration was at an end. I even made the comment that if my message was to the wrong family I was not sure where else to look for Warren.
Not two hours later I had a message via social media from Warren's daughter just making sure that my request to contact the family was legitimate. 30 hours after I collected the medals I was in touch with Ted's family and could confirm that I indeed had his medals.
This morning I spoke to Warren and I was able to explain how the medals had gone via Boyd to me. We also spoke about his grandfather who served in WWI. This was Leslie John Felton and the link will take you to his WWI service record which Warren has not seen before.
It really has been quite nice to assist Boyd find a solution to finalising the Estate he was responsible for. I am very grateful to Troy who passed my Ancestry message on to Warren's family and also Lynda who has connected me with Warren. The pictures below are of Ted's medals, his discharge certificate and identity discs.
The returned medal tally is now 2370.

15 June 2019

Bede Sullivan

I received the WWII War Medal and Defence Medal awarded to NX27358 Bede Joseph Sullivan from Helen D who tells me the medals were found amongst the possession of a deceased relative.
Bede married but had no children. His sister married but she also had no children. Their brother Arthur didn't marry.
I then had to turn to the family of Bede's father William. He was from a large family and I found a trail through William's sister, Catherine. She married William Brennan and it is their grandson, Don who, thanks to another family member, I've been in touch with. Don tells me that he remembers the Sullivan family living in the same NSW regional town as him.
While doing this research I found that one of Bede's cousins was William Gregory Brennan died of wounds he received at Gallipoli. This is his obituary.
Thanks to Helen for sending me the medals and to Jezella for connecting me with Don.
The returned medal tally is now 2366.

10 June 2019

Wickens update

This link is to the story about Alfred Wickens whose BWM was recently returned. In summary the medal was in the possession of recently commissioned Captain Leon Upton and returned to Mark, a relative of Alfred. All this occurred in the UK.
Leon and Mark meet up and the the medal was handed to over. Mark has taken the next step and visited Alfred's grave. These photos are of Marks visit. He tells me that the workmen who were doing some repairs moved their tools to tidy up the sit a bit. The last photo is one that I took last week of Alfred's name in the commemorative cloisters of the Australian War Memorial.

06 June 2019

Defence Force Service Medal

This return is a real collaboration between Bill and myself.
Bill had the medal and provided me with the service details. I could use this and track down the phone number of the former soldier. Bill was then able to contact the person and finalise the return.
There really isn't much more to add to this story.
The returned medal tally is now 2364.

27 May 2019

10th Battalion AIF BWM

This is the story of a collaboration I had with Gary H who, for many years, had the British War Meal awarded to 3981 Julius Verno Sobels.
Julius was from South Australia which, as long time readers will know, is the most difficult Australian State for accessing public records. It was small snippets that we put together that led Gary to a relative in NSW and the medal has now been returned to the family.
The returned medal tally is now 2363.

21 May 2019

Leo Cunningham

This is one of those cases that go very smoothly from start to finish.
The 1939-45 Australian Service Medals awarded to NX14683 Leo George Cunningham arrived in the post on Friday. Over the weekend I found a family tree which included Leo. I fired off a message and this morning I received an email from Leo's grandson. My message had been passed on and we are now in contact.
I'm very grateful to the tree owner for putting me in touch with the family and also Chris C who sent me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 2362.

19 May 2019

Matthew Kelly - 1st Remount Unit

This is the second of the Remount Unit medals that Murray M sent me.
This 1914-15 Star was awarded to 390 Matthew Kelly. Matthew stated his age was 49 and 8 months when he enlisted in late 1915. Right on the age limit of 50 to enlist in the Remounts. However, it appears that Matthew might have lied about his age to make himself 10 years younger. All the evidence points at Matthew being born in 1856 making him 59 rather than 49. He died in 1938 aged 82 which confirms the year of birth. While it was common to see young men put their age up it was far less common to see an age put down.
Matthew's death notice names his numerous children with Allan being the oldest. Allan also served in WWI as 559 Allan Wain Kelly, Australian Army Veterinary Corps. Allan was very easy to follow through the electoral rolls. His second name of Wain was what I used to trace his descendants.
One of Allan's sons is Kevin Wain Kelly who served in the RAAF during WWII. The use of the name Wain also extend to the next generation of this family and I was able to identify Kevin Kelly Jnr in the 1980 electoral roll. The leap forward 39 years and a current contact number for Kevin was a bit of needle in a haystack to find but a punt lead me to North West, WA where Kevin now lives. Through Kevin Jnr I've now got the contact details of Kevin Snr who lives in Victoria. To add to the family service record, Kevin Jnr also served in WWII, Joy Alice Meharry.
Matthew's full medal entitlement is the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 
The returned medal tally is now 2361

18 May 2019

Henry Cecil Beauchamp

This return is a cracking story, much of the research has been put together by others and I'm very grateful that it landed with me to put the last piece in to the puzzle and locate the family. It is also a pretty complicated story so I'll try to be succinct.
My part in this epic began recently when I received an email from Murry M telling me that over the years he had obtained several medals awarded to members of the Remount Units. The Remount Units were pretty interesting in their own right. In order to free up Light Horse troopers who were left in Egypt while the majority of the regiments were fighting at Gallipoli, the Remount Units were raised. There were two units each of four squadrons. The enlistment age for a remount soldier was raised 50 and they were drawn from Boer War veterans or men who had experience handling horses. Following the withdrawal from Gallipoli the remount soldiers were used to deliver horses to Palestine and Syria.
Murray's interest in Remounts was due to a member of his own family having served in the same unit.
These are the medals that Murray sent me along with a substantial amount of research.

The first soldier I looked at was 1211 Henry Cecil Beauchamp. Henry's WWI AIF service record was easy to locate on the National Archives of Australia website but from it many questions came out. Firstly, his attestation paper says that he served in the 21st Lancers, a British unit. This explains the experience that Henry had to be a remount soldier as well and being aged 48. Later in the service record there is a letter (page5), dated 1967, from his daughter applying for the Anzac Commemorative Medallion. This was presented to soldiers who had served at Gallipoli. In this letter Henry's daughter states that her father had served at Omdurman (in present day Sudan), South Africa, India (with Sir Winston Churchill) and in WWI, including having gone to Gallipoli. The letter is annotated with the letters NE which stands of Not Entitled. Henry did not go to Gallipoli and I wonder if he embellished his record a bit despite his extensive service. This question comes up again in later research.
Two more interesting pieces of information that came out of his daughter's letter. She stated that prior to enlistment in the AIF they lived at Duntroon and that Henry's Long Service and Good Conduct Medal had been stolen at some time. The mention of Duntroon interested me and I found a link that confirmed that Henry worked as a civilian groom at RMC.
I found that Henry died in 1929 but it was his wife's death notice that helped me move forward. However, looking back at Henry's life made things a bit more complicated. Henry was know at a point in time as Henry Cecil Strickland de Beauchamps, Henry Cecil de Beauchamps, Leonard Hudson and Henry Cecil Beauchamp.
On 1 February 1886, aged 18 years and 7 months, Henry enlisted in the Royal Marines and was assigned to Depot Battalion. Not long after that, on 22 June 1886, he enlisted in the 21st Hussars under the name Leonard Hudson. Luckily, these British service records are available unlike meany that have been destroyed. There is a note on one page to say that Leonard's alias was Henry Cecil Beauchamp and a comment from his Commanding Officer that says:
'Claimed the benefit of the Queen's Pardon having confessed to having fraudulently 
enlisted into the 21st Hussars whilst belonging to the Royal Marine Light Infantry'.
This entry is undated but he continued to serve at the following locations:
Home (UK) 17 June 1886 to 21 November 1887
East Indies 22 November 1887 to 23 April 1894
Home (UK) 24 April 1894 to 16 June 1898.
No mention is made of serving in Africa and with a discharge date of June 1898 he missed the Battle of Omdurman by three months as it occurred in September 1898.
Henry re-enlisted on 23 April 1900 in to the 21st Lancers and served through to 10 February 1909 when he discharged with the rank of Sergeant. He qualified for his Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 1907. There is no mention that he served in South Africa.
This is Henry in his Lancers uniform. 
(Reproduced with kind permission of his family)

It is not clear exactly when Henry moved to Australia. It must have been about 1911. He would have been in his mid 40s. It was Henry's wife death notice that gave me the information I needed to move forward. In total they had 8 children, some who also emigrated while others stayed in the UK. 
Their eldest son was Harry Cecil Beauchamp. Harry's son served in the RAAF during WWII. This was FSGT Warwick Melville Beauchamp.
Warwick died on 19 April 1944 when his Liberator aircraft crashed while taking off at Sigiriva for an attack on an enemy convoy. Warwick is buried at Liveramentu Cemetery, Columbo. Warwick is mention in the 2014 Anzac Day address that was given of the HE Robyn Mudie, the Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. The following photos are of Warwick's headstone and the funeral of Warwick and his crew mates.
The family that I followed was that of one of Henry's daughters, Evelyn. It is her grand son, Brendan who I recently contacted and will send Henry's medal to. Henry served in the AIF from October 1915 to June 1916. For this service he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. It is the British War Medal what will be returned to his family. Where his other medals are is an interesting question. I also wonder what medals he was actually awarded in addition to the confirmed Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Murry is to be congratulated on the research he did prior to handing over everything to me. I'm just so pleased to be able to have quickly located Henry's great grandson.
The returned medal tally is now 2360.

WWII medal group of four

Bill combined with the Victorian Police Force to complete this return.

This has been a long time finalising.
The background to these medals are that the veteran died in April 2013. His wife passed away in January 2015 after which the family home was sold.
The new owners decided in 2017 to update the house. It was while a second story was being added that the medals were found. At that point the Police at Corio, Victoria became involved and later asked for my assistance.
The veteran’s daughter died in 2018. Her husband then kind of went on a ‘wander’. Finally I located him via his wife’s hairdresser (don’t ask). All that is now passed and the medals are ‘home’. Interesting way the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal were mounted. Also they were wrapped in plastic and paper so they are in very good condition. It appears that the veteran wore them each ANZAC day, up until just before he passed away.

The returned medal tally is now 2359. 

06 May 2019


Bill's latest story.
One of the things that Glyn and I have often commented on, is when we receive medals that have done the rounds. The search to return ‘George’s’ medals definitely fall in to this category and along the way been through many hands.
Bought in an Op-shop in Adelaide in 2004, they laid in a drawer till 2010, when the son of the purchaser found them and started to look for the recipient or his family. Eventually they landed in my mail box, late in 2016, and the search began anew.
War Graves, often my first port of call, had no registered date of death. So began a long hunt, via the State Library, and it’s newspaper archives, and the Electoral Rolls. 
First came a series of conflicting death notices. In short it soon became apparent that George, had been married, divorced and later remarried, and had outlived both wives. Then came the next question; if ‘George’ had died in 2006, as I now believed, how had his medals come to be sold in Adelaide in 2004. Unfortunately, since his death 2006, the funeral directors who handled his funeral had been taken over, and the hoped for records that would show a possible next of kin, had long been mislaid. In addition, ‘George’s’ ashes like his two wives had been scattered, and the name on his file was that of the Funeral Company which had been taken over.
Complicating the search was that none of the names appearing in ‘George’s’ death notice were found in the Electoral Rolls as living with ‘George’ and his first wife.
So now it was back to the State library, and the slow search to find a marriage notice of his daughter, or should I say a lady who shared the first name of ‘George’s’ daughter.
Then the slow grind to find her and her husband, only this time via a combination of both of their names on the electoral rolls. However, for every step forward, I found myself slipping back. Particularly when I thought I had found ‘George’s’ daughter and her husband. But he had moved following the death of his wife, ‘George’s’ daughter. Fortunately the newspapers were up to date and the funeral directors willing to pass my details to the family, in this case ‘George’s’ son in law.
'George’s' medals are now home, with his grandson. Shortly they will be wending their way to A1 Service medals (that’s a free plug, Glyn). I then hope to post an updated picture, of ‘George’s medals.

The returned medal tally is now 2359. 

30 April 2019

F W G Johnson

The story behind these medals is pretty hard to believe but not much surprises me these days. Having now spoken to Fred's daughter I can fill in all the gaps.
These medals are in as issued condition and still in the box of issue. Along with the medals was a letter written by Fred in 2002 addressed to Christies requesting that the medals be mounted to wear. Somehow the medals went missing in the mail, they eventually found their way to the Directorate of Honours and Awards before being sent to me.
Fred was NX30929 Frederick William George Johnson, he served in Syria and later PNG. After WWII he didn't participate in Anzac Day marches but in the early 2000s he decided to became more involved and get his medals mounted. Fred died in 2004.
It took me some time to work out Fred's family tree but today I was able to track down Fred's nephew. To my very pleasant surprise he was able to provide me with the Fred's daughter name and phone number. I was soon talking to Sandy who filled in all the blanks about Fred's medals.
Thanks again to Honours and Awards for sending these to me and to Peter for helping me get in touch with Sandy.
The returned medal tally is now 2355.

Post Anzac Day losses and finds

After each Anzac Day I get multiple requests about medals that have been lost or found. When a group is lost all we can do is record the details in case they come our way.
When an individual medal or group is found the information comes to me via the Police, RSL, individuals or Facebook posts. Over the last few days I've had six different requests for help after medals have been found. Three searches have proved to be rather straight forward but the details just can't be shared. All I can say is that two singles, a group of three and a group of five medals have been returned after being lost on Anzac Day 2019.
The returned medal tally is now 2350.

09 April 2019

Walter Speechly

The incorrect spelling of a name and two regimental numbers really complicated this search.
It all started in September 2017 when I received three sets of medals from Stuart H. All three searches are now resolved.
What caused the confusion was that Walter Charles Speechly often had his surname spelt Speechley. Even on the original service record Walter has manuscript amended the spelling in his own hand and crossed out the last 'e'. This error continued all though his records and even on his medals. The naming on the 1914-15 Star is different to the BWM and Victory Medal. To top this off Walter had the regimental numbers of 1208 and 1330.
Having all three WWI medals, especially when not mounted in one group, is rather exciting. It looks like they were pinned on to a jacket with safety pins (we all know what Bill's opinion about safety pins is). Walter was at Gallipoli and was wounded in action on 22 May 1915 when he received a gun shot wound to the left thigh. He was later wounded in action a second time in August 1916. This time a gun shot wound to his right leg.
Walter was pretty difficult to follow through the records, the search had to be doubled to cover both spellings. I couldn't find any evidence of him having children so my search extended to this siblings. This lead me to an Ancestry family tree which included Walter's sister Christine. The tree owner in Walter's great nephew, Michael. He has an interesting story of his own. Michael was originally from the UK but 35 years ago moved to Connecticut, USA. His interest in his family history has uncovered several times removed grandparents buried in the same area which he never knew about prior to starting his own research. Michael's interest in this family makes him the ideal person to receive Walter's medals.
The returned medal tally is now 2340.   

James Sidney Burke

This is the last of the medals out of the Grafton Box.
2495 James Sidney Burke was 32 when he enlisted in 1915. An interesting comment on his service record is that he was born at sea. James was discharged in Nov 1916 and during his period of service was in 1st Battalion, 1st Pioneer Battalion and 53rd Battalion. James never married and it looks like he lead an itinerant labouring life. He was in trouble with the police for selling sly grog and this was reported in the newspaper. I also found James' funeral notice. Both these entries are below.
The information on James was pretty sparse so I turned to his mother, Mary. From her death notice I got the names of all James' siblings. One name was Stephanie Genevieve Hosford which was pretty easy to follow through the BDM and electoral rolls. Stephanie and her husband moved from NSW to VIC so I had to search back and forth across the different state records. From Stephanie's death notice, which named all her children, I focused on one son, Peter and soon found him in the White Pages. This morning I spoke to Peter, James' great nephew, who I will send the medal to in the near future. 
The returned medal tally is now 2337.

01 April 2019


While the research in to this soldier occurred in Australia the distance between the location of the medal and return location is only a hundred miles or so apart in the UK.
The research started with a recent email from WO1 Leon Upton, RSM 8 Rifles. Leon's father is in the second hand trade and had several medals on a shelf. Leon noticed that a WWI British War Medal was named to an Australian, Private Alfred Louis Wickens. Wickens enlisted on 15 Nov 1914 and was allocated to 8th Battalion AIF. He was originally from the Isle of Wight but emigrated to Australia prior to 1914.
During WWI Wickens was in and out of hospital on multiple occasions and wounded in action in March 1918. Having survived almost the entire war, Alfred was killed in action in August 1918. He is buried in Rosieres Communal Cemetery Extension. Alfred's service records shows that his medals were sent to his parents address on the Isle of Wight. This explains how his medals got to the UK.
Finding Wickens' family proved reasonably easy and he is included on an Ancestry family tree. Mark is the tree owner and related to Wickens on his mother's side. I've now connected Leon and Mark and they are currently working out how to meet up.
It has been a real pleasure to work with Leon on this search.
The returned medal tally is now 2336.

30 March 2019

WWII and Korean War medal group

These medals, awarded to Alan Sivell, cover two wars while serving in the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. When I was first contacted about these medals they had just been handed in to an RSL club after being found among items handed in to a charity shop. The RSL then took the medals to the Victorian Police and they were then sent to me
I was a bit confused at first when I couldn't find a RAN WWII record for this sailor but did find the post WWII service record for CPO Alan Sivell. The record states that Alan commenced service in the RAN in 1951. I made the assumption that the WWII medals were earned in the RN. This proved correct when I received the medals and noted that the WWII medals were not named and there was no Australian Service Medals 1939-45. Alan discharged in 1966.
Through Face Book I was able to get in contact with Alan's grandson and then Alan's son. The family now live in New Zealand and I'll get these medals back to them prior to Anzac Day.
Thank you to the finder of these medals and my Victoria Police contact Dionne.
The returned medal tally is now 2335.

16 March 2019

John Formby

These two medals and Returned From Active Service Badge came to me via Noel of Defence Archives after they had been sent in by a member of the public. The medals arrived in the post yesterday and even though I have a result with in 18 hours, the search was quite difficult.
The medals are the United Nations Korea Medal and General Service Medal 1918-1962 with Malaya clasp awarded to 5/2569 J E Formby. The first problem I encountered was was that Formby doesn't appear on the DVA Korean War nominal roll. This is not the first time I've come across a missing entry on this particular roll. What is did mean was that I had to find his full name through another source. Ancestry provided the answer after a lengthy search: I was looking for John Ernest Formby. The only usable information was two electoral roll entries in the 1960s for John giving his occupation as 'soldier', his residential address in a Canberra hostel and his date of death which occurred in Melbourne.
What his hostel address suggested to me was that John was single. Indeed, by the end of this search I found no evidence that he had ever married. Using the date of death from Ancestry I found where John was buried using the Victorian Cemeteries data base. To my pleasant surprise his date of birth was also listed. This proved to be a difficult next step in the search and after some frustration I turned to Trove and by narrowing the date search parameters to John's the year and month of birth, I found his birth notice.
From this notice, I learnt that John was the son of Mr and Mrs E Formby. Back to Ancestry and it took an hour narrowing down John's parents to Ernest James and Ethel Formby. There was a couple of electoral roll entries for different address in Victoria but the trail then ran cold.
The only reference I could then find was Ernest's death notice from 1949 which included the names of John and his two sisters, Doris and Ivy. By this time the entire family was living in WA.
What was becoming apparent with this search was that there was only one clue to take me to the next step. Usually there are multiple pieces of evidence which helps to corroborate what I've found or provides something extra to work with.
Each of John's sisters proved difficult to follow through the records as Doris married twice and Ivy married a man who was divorced.
Doris' first marriage was to Allan Scahill, a WAFL footballer in the 1930s and was awarded an OBE in 1979 for services to sport. WA electoral roll entries for Doris and Allan included their son and daughter, Patricia. Luckily, Scahill is a fairly uncommon name in WA so I used the WA reverse marriage site to narrow down the possibilities of who the daughter might have married. Allan's second wife was also named Patricia which confused me for a bit but once I worked out who Patricia (the daughter) married thing became clearer.
Patricia and her husband lived in Bunbury for many years and a check of the White Pages provided a possible contact in the same area. Taking a punt I rang the number today and sure enough I had found who I was looking for.
Patricia was able to confirm all the family connections but didn't know anything about John from after the late 1940s. At about the age of 18, John just disappeared and was never heard of again by his family. Patrica and I surmised that John joined the Army at about that time which also lined up nicely for service in Korea.
What I also found during this research was that Doris' second husband, Patricia's stepfather, was Gordon Winslade. This name rung a bell with me and I recalled my grandmother and her circle of friends using it in the 1970s. I mentioned it to my mother today and she confirmed that Gordon Winslade was a real estate agent in WA and this was the context that I would have heard him being spoken about.
It was really nice talking to Patrica and being able to fill in the blanks about John.
The returned medal tally is now 2321.