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.