28 January 2019

John Highett

Even with a combined WWI and WWII service records that provided a wealth of information, it still took four years to resolve this search.
I received the British War Medal awarded to 2031 John Thomas Lines Highett from Bob Smith in February 2015. During WWI John served in 50th Battalion, AIF and was wounded in action. He also served in WWII with the number SX2614, this time his unit was the 2nd Railway Construction Coy, RAE. The service record also includes a picture John which is a fantastic inclusion.
John's mother's name was Harriet Lines and her surname was used in John's full name and that of his brother Joseph. However, not every public record included this detail which caused the research it become confused.
Recently, I revisited this search and found that a member of the Highett family had put a tree on Ancestry. This was done over a year ago which often means that messages sent via Ancestry aren't read. The tree owner is D Highett so on a hunch I checked the White Pages and found one listing for this name in South Australia which is where John was from. On speculation I called this number today and got the right family. D stands for Danny, who I have just spoken to and he is John's grandson. I'll post the medal off to Danny and Belinda in the near future.
Thanks go to Bob for sending me the medal. The returned medal tally is now 2305.

26 January 2019

Thomas James Hill

This return was a collaborative effort between the WA Police, the WA RSL and Lost Medals Australia.
It started with a group of three medals being handed in to the Perth District Police Station. The Police officer who was handling the case put a post on Face Book which was shared with me.
While social media is great I do find that some well meaning comments actually hijack the search which, in this case, was further complicated with the number on the WWII medals not matching up with the same name on the WWII nominal roll.
The group also consisted of a RAAF Long Service and Good Conduct Medal which had another number on it. The police provided the second number to me separately and I was able to confirm that the medals were awarded to A35311 Thomas James Hill. Through a source I have I was able to obtain Thomas' WWII RAAF service record which gave me the names of his wife and two daughters. This was all provided to the police. The WA RSL were able to track down one of Thomas' daughters and she has now retrieved the medals. I'm hopeful that this lady will contact me soon and I'll provide her with a copy of the service record.
The returned medal tally is now 2305.

Marie Boland

The length of service of WR2995 Marie Joyce Boland was relatively short. She enlisted on 6 June 1945 and was discharged on 24 April 1946. He employment in the RAN was as a coder.
The the next 65 years from 1946 there is no public record of Marie that I could find. That is until her death notice from Jun 2013 appeared in the Canberra times. This notice gave the names of her four daughters but all my efforts to determine there full names and current locations proved very difficult. As a last resort I contacted the nursing home mentioned in the death notice and asked if a message could be passed to Marie's family. With in a day I had a response from Marie's daughter Anne and the medal has now been posted home.
Thank you to Ernie K who sent me the medal in October 2017. The returned medal tally is now 2302.

05 January 2019

Aiken Spence

I never ceased to be amazed at the ever expanding ripple effect that results from one small research effort.
These two medals came as part of the Grafton Box and were awarded to 373 Aiken Spence.
What immediately struck me was that the 1914-15 Star gave the unit as 7th Light Horse Regiment and the British War Medal has the unit as 12th Light Horse Regiment. Aiken's service record shows that he was initially enlisted to the Light Horse Reserve before allocation to 7th LHR then later transferred to 12th LHR. Aiken served at Gallipoli and in the Middle East.
The service record also threw up more facts than I hadn't expected. Late in the war Aiken was Mentioned in Dispatches. This was not the only award made to this family but more on that later. Also there is correspondence from the 1950s requesting a replacement 1914-15 Star. However, the Star I have is not impressed as a Duplicate or Replacement.
With a name like Aiken Spence I thought that the research would be relatively straight forward. However, due to his name being spelt as Aiken, Akien or even Atkien things got complicated. What I could work out was that following WWI, Aiken married Amy Doris May but this marriage ended in divorce in the 1930s. Spence later married Ivy May Bale in 1939. I couldn't find any evidence that Aiken had any children. He died in 1964 and is buried in the Grafton Cemetery.
I then took the search to his siblings; William, James and David. No one in this generation of the Spence family had middle names which made the research that much harder.
William and David were hard to follow so I focused on James which proved to be very interesting.
Aiken's brother was 1244 James Spence DCM, 33rd Battalion AIF. James was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal:

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in organizing a party and attacking a strong hostile post, capturing it and a machine gun, and bayoneting the whole garrison. His fearlessness and determination throughout the operations set a magnificent example to his company.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 219 Date: 20 December 1917
James also served during WWII as N75462 SGT J Spence DCM. This record gave me his NOK name as Effie. Finally I had a name which was far easier to narrow down. The electoral rolls confirmed where James' family lived and I found a picture of his headstone in the Tamworth Cemetery. This picture is below and includes the names of his daughters: Mary, Barbara and Betty. I found Effie and Barbara at the same address in the electoral roll. It was only the one entry and for the year before Barbara married. It really was a piece of luck and it also provided Barbara's middle name of Wynn. From here the search was easy.
Barbara Wynn Spence married Milton Clifford Taylor and they settle on the NSW Central Coast.  The last available electoral roll on Ancestry is 1980 and this entry included the name of their son. Barbara died in 2010 and Milton in 2018. Milton had be a stalwart of the Everglades Country Club having a perpetual trophy named in his honour. His death was noted in the club news letter so I asked the club if they were in contact with Milton's son and if a message could be passed to him. I am extremely grateful to the Everglades Country Club for forwarding my email and I've recently been in contact with Aiken's great nephew and will be returning the medals shortly.
In the back of my mind I still have the question of where Aiken's Victory Medal might be and how the 1914-15 Star is the original rather then the duplicate. Questions that will never be answered.
The returned medal tally is now 2301.