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.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Glyn. You aren't addicted are you. Like a dog with a bone.