03 October 2019
Tom's 5 WWII medals
Bill's latest assistance to the Victorian Police, which once again comes with a caveat that we can't provide much in the way of personal detail of the this WW2 veteran.
Tom was a teenager typical of his time. 23 days after his 19th Birthday he talked his father into letting him enlist. This was in late 1942 and the great adventure that was WWII began for Tom. Recorded issues for Tom included parcels sent to his unit for Christmas 1943 that were finally off loaded in March 1944 due to the need to keep diverting ships. There is no recorded history of what his unit thought of that. Nor of the several thousand shirts and trousers they off loaded only to be later told they were all too small.
Tom finally came home in November 1946 as a result of having low discharge points. This was a system which ensured that those who had served in a theatre of war the longest were demobilised first. The time between Japan’s surrender and his return was spent guarding Japanese POWs. Who, it is recorded, seemed to be able to get home quicker than the victors.
His medals are a story in themselves.
Found in a roof of a house undergoing extensive renovations. They were passed to the Victorian Police. How long the medals had been in the roof (a common hiding place once upon a time, when houses had manholes) I cannot say, Tom’s son in law cannot remember having seen the medals for almost longer than he can remember.
It has taken nearly 5 years to return Tom’s medals to his family. Electoral rolls, always a good research resource, went haywire at the time of the sale, coinciding as it did with the death of Tom and his wife. I even went to the point of having the Police visit the premises where I believed their daughter and son in law were living. While they did leave a message to be contacted they never were. The search was not helped by Tom’s daughter and her husband living well and truly on the outskirts of a small Victorian town. But as Glyn will always say when asked what does he do when he hits a brick wall “You try something different”. I followed this principal. It just took a lot of phone calls and a bit of detective work to get a result. You all need to get your haircut sooner or later, don’t you? There was no men’s hairdresser in town, not enough business. But there was a ladies hair salon. Which doubled for both men and women. It was here that I finally tracked down Tom’s son in law. Where he would, every six weeks or so drop by, from where he was now living with his daughter, Tom’s granddaughter, following the death of his wife.
Tom’s medals are now in trust with a grand daughter who will pass them to the next generation, when she thinks, as she said, they are old enough to understand what they mean.
The returned medal tally is now 2408.