20 August 2019

Ray Thompson

In the past I've done a return for Daryl B which must have been satisfactory to him as Daryl called me recently about another set of medals that had come his way. I collected the WWI British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to 388 Charles Raymond Thompson yesterday and have now been in touch with Ray's great nephew.
Ray was a member of the 22nd Machine Gun Company having enlisted aged 25 in 1916. By March 1917, Ray had spent time in England to do further training then proceeded to France with his unit. On 14 September 1917, Ray was killed in action. His body was never recovered so he has no know grave. Ray is commemorated at Menin Gate.
Ray was the son of Charles Gordon Thompson who was the first school teacher at Cobram, Victoria. Charles was very well regarded in the community so on his untimely death in 1909 the published obituary gave me lots of clues about the Ray's siblings. I was then able to follow the family through to the 1980s but ran out of clues from the electoral rolls. Although, I did have one distinctive name to work with. This name led me to a company in Melbourne so I sent off a speculative email. Very shortly after this I received a reply from Geoff, Ray's great nephew. As it turns out Geoff had recently retired from this company but the thoughtful staff member passed him my email.
Ray's service record makes interesting reading. There are several letters from Ray's mother to Army seeking information about the possibility of Ray's remains being located. The replies must have been heartbreaking for Ray's mother.
Quite a bit of luck went my way with this search. This included prompt replies to Ancestry messages that I sent, which don't always occur, quite distinctive middle names across several generations and a Geoff's thoughtful colleague. The best outcome is that Ray's medals will soon be returned to his family.
The returned medal tally is now 2381.


    

07 August 2019

Michael Feeney

This is a great story that covers three generations of Australian servicemen.
It starts with 380 Michael Joseph Feeney a 22 year old Irishman who enlisted in 1916 having emigrated to Australia in 1912. Michael served in the 4th Division Motor Transport Company, Australian Army Service Corps.
Following WWI, Michael settled in Rockhampton. He enlisted again, at the age of 48, in the Army, this time during WWII and served in the Volunteer Defence Corps. Older men were used for home service in WWII so that younger men could be released to fight overseas and Michael did his part. For his WWII service, Michael was awarded two medals. 
These medals were purchased at a garage sale in Townsville 25 years ago by Jayson who mentioned them to Army PR soldier SGT Dave Morley. Dave passed he medals to me this morning and it didn't take long to find the second generation serviceman.
In the electoral rolls I found Michael, his wife and their son. This was Brian Michael Feeney. As I followed Brian it soon became apparent he was in the RAAF and in the late 1970s was living in Canberra. The 1977 roll gave me Brian's son's full name, which is quite distinctive. This is Chris, and the 1980 electoral roll listed his address as 6 RAR, Gallipoli Barracks. Here is the third generation. On a hunch I had a look on the Defence internal phone directory and sure enough I found Chris who is still serving in the Australian Army. 20 minutes after receiving Michael's medals from Dave I was talking to Michael's grandson. Chris tells me that he has never seen the WWII medals and has no idea how they came to be at a garage sale. Chris has been looking for Michael's WWI pair of medals for many years but there whereabouts remain a mystery.
Thanks to Jayson for wanting to see the medals returned to the family and to Dave for connecting me with Jayson.
The returned medal tally is now 2379.