27 August 2019

Malcolm Wren Thatcher

This is the second return I've done after being given two lots of medals by my colleague Ben W. This link is to the first story which was relatively easy by comparison to the General Service Medal awarded to 1/3893 M W Thatcher.  
I went down several paths on the search and it took close to three weeks to come to a conclusion. The first path I followed was looking at the name Michael William Thatcher but the ages just didn't line up with someone who would have served in the Australian Army to be awarded a GSM with clasp Malaya. Thanks to Wayne W, a fellow researcher, who provided me with two gems; the correct name - Malcolm Wren Thatcher and date of birth - 19 February 1939.
The name Malcolm Wren Thatcher only appears in a limited number of public records, these are electoral rolls which end, on Ancestry, in 1980. These rolls showed that Malcolm worked as a station hand on several properties in southern NSW. I just couldn't find any information after this so I wondered if Malcolm had died.
Working on the other piece of information I had, Malcolm's date of birth, I searched the exact date in the newspapers on Trove. To my surprise I found a son born to Mr and Mrs D Thatcher on 19 Feb 39 in Queensland. I hen went down the path of tracing this family. I didn't have the exact name of this son but managed to find a relative of another sibling whose name I did work out. This relative had quite a distinctive name combination and I found him online. My message to him was soon answered but it was the wrong Thatcher family. Who would have thought that two boys with the surname of Thatcher would have been born of the same date?
I had to start over again but I just couldn't find any clues. I then turned to the Australian Genealogy Face Book group and posed the problem online. Karin M then provided the clue that finally sent me on the right path. Karin found a 1930 newspaper marriage notice for Milton Mervyn Thatcher and Mona Duval Wren. Milton and Mona lived in Tumut NSW which all made sense with Malcolm's address through the 1960s.
The next clue I found was Mona's headstone, which is pictured below. Mona died in child birth in 1941 leaving Milton with five young sons. This new information just led to more problems in the search.
Milton is mentioned quite a lot in the local Tumut newspaper, particularly in the 1920s and 30s. By all accounts he was a great singer and won several local talent contests. Milton was known as 'Winkie'. In 1946, Winkie married another Tumut local, Margaret Jean Roddy. He died in 1988 but his death notice in the Tumut and Adelong Times wasn't on line.
From Mona's headstone I got the names of Malcolm's brother's so I checked back the Tumut electoral rolls and worked out the full names. One was Peter Edward Thatcher who died in 2016. Similarly, Peter's death notice was available to view but the local church news letter noted his burial. I sent a email to the parish office and this morning I received a reply which pointed me towards Peter's family. Shortly after this I was talking to Liz who provided my Malcolm's phone number. He is still alive and living in Albury, NSW. I've now spoken to Malcolm who can't recall how he lost this medal but was quite emotional o hear that it would returned to him.
This was a difficult search but I was really assisted by Wayne, Karin and Ralda. Thanks to Ben and his dad for trusting me with this search.
The returned medal tally is now 2382.

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