28 September 2019

Eric's medals

Another of Bill's successes.
This is a story from long ago which I've just wrote. It was not the easiest story to write, this is the first time I have sat down to try and fully record it. Pseudonyms have been used throughout, firstly to protect 'Eric', secondly others who were involved at different levels.    
Eric was a POW of the Japanese and, who sadly, had been separated from his family for many years. When he died in 2002, he left his medals to a mate. Sadly, the mate who has since also passed, was burgled in 2004 and the medals stolen.
Where they went next I do not know, until in 2011 they ended up in the possession of the Victoria Police. In 2012, a newly graduated Constable who had been told to clean up the "Lost Property Room mess” passed them to me.
And so the search began.
In 2014, I found one of Eric's sons who admitted that he and his brother, had been estranged from their father for many years, and they did not know whether they really wanted their father’s medals. However, Eric's grandson who was present said that he would like the medals, the medals of a grandfather he never met. And so Eric’s medals have gone to a grandchild who for all his sacrifices he never met. A grandchild with whom I spoke at great length, and whom I hope left with a better understanding of what his grandfather had endured, firstly as a soldier and secondly as a POW.

The returned medal tally is now 2403.

18 September 2019

Henry Appleby's lost medal group

Fantastic research by Bill.

The search for VX110755 Private Henry Appleby has been truly a search for a man who never was.
It started with a phone call from David Keall, the former President of the Victorian TPI, he had been given a set of medals to see if he could find the ‘owner’.
He had tried but hit brick walls, which we know all about. After a quiet Saturday together looking at what he had and what I could find on line, we both came to the conclusion that Henry was the ‘man who never was’. This was later confirmed when it was discovered that he does not appear on the WW2 Nominal Roll. The Service numbers prior to and after Henry appear but not Henry's.
From War Graves I got his date of death; 31st May 1988, which confirmed that he did exist, only he was missing from the list, why? That is being looked at.
Then it was back to the search roundabout. From the State Library I obtained his funeral details, where he was buried and his wife’s name.
Based on the time since Henry died, I took the well-worn path of looking at other people named Appleby buried in the same cemetery. Then it was to the on-line newspapers looking for what may have been written firstly about Henry and secondly all other Applebys appearing on line.
It was the entry for his wife, Maisie that referred to Henry and their children which finally took me to the Funeral Directors who had conducted her funeral.
Then it was a wait of less than an hour and Henry and Maisie’s daughter Lisa rung me.
From our conversation a gem stood out. Henry medals were stolen in 1983.
So where had the medals been? From the condition of the ribbons and the medals, they appear to have had a hard life. As for the medal’s future, Lisa has already put in train plans to have the medals cleaned and re-ribboned. They will ultimately be passed to Henry’s grandson.
In the future I hope to be able to provide a photo of the refurbished medals. And as for the Nominal Roll well, that is now being corrected.

The returned medal tally is now 2399.

14 September 2019

Helping the police

It is becoming more often that we get requests from the state or territory police forces to find the family of medals that they have recovered following a crime. Usually the circumstance are such that, because of an ongoing investigation, we can't reveal the name of the serviceman.
Just this week I had two such requests, one from Western Australia, the other from Queensland. Using the details provided by the police, I have been able to provide the names of the current generation of both of the families concerned. The police have now used their own resources to make the final contact and arrange for the medals to be returned.
Even though there is no story to tell about the serviceman or the research need to locate there relatives, the story really is about helping out the police, which has been a real pleasure.
The returned medal tally is now 2395.

10 September 2019

Three medals, two wars, one family

Initially this search confused me as I couldn't link the WWI medals awarded to 1417 Hugh Montgomery and VX145510 Leonard Leslie Smith after I received them from the Shrine of Remembrance.
I originally thought this was two separate searches and started by looking at Hugh and determining his wife's and daughter's name. Then I moved on to searching for Leonard's (Len) family. I found his headstone which gave his wife's name and something rung a bell. Hugh's daughter was Marjorie Mabel Montgomery and Leonard's wife was Marjorie Mabel Smith. A bit of deeper checking of the public records provided proof that this was the same person I so what had was medals to members of the same family.
That was probably the easiest part of this search. It then took more than two years to track down Len and Mabel's daughter's. Despite having the names of the next two generation of this family it proved difficult to make that final link. Thanks to a helpful relative on Ancestry I have just heard from one of Hugh's grand daughters and will soon be sending these medals home.
The returned medal tally is now 2388.