12 December 2020

David Mytton

I recently received an email from Margaret P who found a WWI Victory Medal among her late brother's possessions. Margaret's brother lived in North Queensland but she wasn't sure how he came to have this medal.

The medal was awarded to 5864 Private David Christopher Mytton. David was part of the Australian Veterinary Hospital. While there was a large requirement for veterinary services during WWI, it isn't often that I see medals to a unit like this. David was almost 45 years old when he enlisted in 1916. He was from a reasonably large family who lived in England. David emigrated to Australia and was a Tin miner around Charters Towers. There is no evidence that David married and based on the fact that his NOK was his mother, I'm confident that he remained a bachelor all his life. 

As part of my research I found several news paper articles that mention David. I've added them here as well as his death notice. The lost item advertisement, placed in 1949, is interesting. I wonder if his medals were in the port when it was lost? For those who have never lived in Queensland, a port is a bag. David died in 1953.

I quickly found David on an Ancestry tree and was soon in contact with a decedent of David's brother John. Margaret is now in contact with the family and David's Victory medal will soon be sent to them.


The returned medal tally is now 2587.


05 December 2020

Cyril Maddock

This Victory Medal has been in the possession of Glen H for some time but he wasn't progressing very far with the research so I had a look for him.

The medal was awarded to 34317 Cyril Vivian Maddock. Cyril, and his son Ian Cyril, were rather easy to track through the public records but I had real difficulty locating the current generation of this family. Through Ancestry I fired off a message to the owner of a tree which included Cyril. That message was passed on to Cyril's grandson who I connected with Glen.

As part of the research I came across these two photos of Cyril.

The returned medal tally is now 2586.




A stolen ADM

This is another story that started with a medal being handed in to the Queensland Police Service and my mate Tim seeking a little bit of help. 

Tim had received an Australian Defence Medal but was stuck locating the soldier. All Tim had was the initial and the surname. It took a little bit of back tracking through open records but I was able to give Tim the first and second name. Using this information Tim found a burglary report from 2018 when the medal was stolen. He now has been in contact with the owner and the medal is on the way back home.

The returned medal tally is now 2585.

22 November 2020

Sister Kathryn Concannon

This is the latest set of medals that I received from Bob and the Mt Gambier RSL. Bob tells me that this collection was found in a roof space of a house in Mt Gambier.

The medals were awarded to SFX26182 Lieutenant Kathryn Concannon. With the medals is a photo album and other mementos belonging to Kathryn. Using Trove I found several newspaper articles from the 1930s about Katheryn graduating a nurse and being appointed as a nursing sister at a regional hospital in South Australia. As I've mentioned in the past, the public records available from SA are a bit thin so didn't hold out much hope for a quick result, despite the unusual surname. I did find that Kathryn died in 1985 and that there was no one listed in the White Pages in Mt Gambier. But I got a break, Kathryn is included in the family tree on Ancestry. I fired off a message to the tree owner and sure enough I had found the keeper of the Concannon family history.

As part of the research I also found that Kathryn's brother Alexander John was KIA on 3 May 1917 at Bullecourt.

Thanks again to Bob for sending me the medals which will soon be sent off to Ros who is also in Mt Gambier. 

The returned medal tally is now 2584.


09 November 2020

Jack Parker Thomas

This story is the result of helping out my mate Tim L from the Queensland Police. I can track the exact time it took to conduct this search thanks to the time stamp on our text conversation.

At 1401 I opened a text from Tim which had the details of a RAAF veteran whose four medals had been handed in. The veteran was A31329 Jack Parker Thomas. The basic details were easy to find on the DVA nominal roll. It looks like he was listed as presumed dead at one point but later repatriated to Australia. When I checked the electoral rolls it looked as though Jack continued to serve in the RAAF until 1960. 

 Jack was from Bright in Victoria and also lived in Melbourne. In 1980 he moved to Queensland. He died in Noosa in 2004 but his ashes were returned to Bright where he is commemorated. I couldn't find any evidence that he married or had children so I looked at his siblings. 

At 1418 I responded to Tim that his brother Frank had married Thelma Cook and their daughter Wendy had married William H. The White Pages has one entry in Bright for this surname so on a hunch I gave the number to Tim.

At 1525, Tim texted me back to say that the hunch proved correct and the number was for Jack's great nephew who also holds Jack's ashes. In less than 90 minutes this search was resolved and will soon be finalised when the medal are back with Jack's family.

 The returned meal tally is now 2581.


31 October 2020

A very small world

Earlier this month I posted the story of Gerald Crawford and the relationship that this return established with Bob of the Mt Gambier RSL sub-branch. After the Crawford success, Bob told me that he had more medals that had come to him via the South Australian Police. The medals are the Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975, the Australian Service Medal 1945-1975, the Australian Defence Medal and the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal all named to Hector Donald McKaskill.   

As soon as I saw the name it immediately rung a bell with me, but before I got to excited I needed to prove a link which I suspected existed. I found Hector in the electoral rolls and that he was an Army officer with many years service. I also found the Commonwealth Gazette entries that conformed several long service awards and promotions. I also found that Hector died in in 1995 in WA. It wasn't until I found the death notice of Hector's wife, Ruth, which mentioned her son David 'Spike' McKaskill, that I knew my initial suspicion was correct.   

Many who read this forum, particularly members of the Royal Australian Armourd Corps, will recognise the name 'Spike' McKaskill. Spike, like Hector, had a long career in the Australian Army reaching the rank of Brigadier before he retired. I worked for Spike when we were both posted to Land Development Branch in 2003-04. That is why the name McKaskill was so familiar to me when Bob first told me about these medals. 

Thank you to Lea who helped me reconnect with Spike.  

The returned meal tally is now 2577. 

Bob receiving Hector's medals from the SA Police

24 October 2020

WWII and Vietnam War medals going home

Two great stories from Bill.

Regular readers of our Blog will know that we often had to explain: ‘While we don’t yet have a photo of the medals, when one becomes available it will be immediately posted’.

With the current virus lock downs, the reductions in mail deliveries and security of mail in general, I have adopted, for the time being, a new approach. Where, in the past, I’ve had the medals mailed to me, I now leave the medals with the RSL/finder, research the family then put them in contact with the medal holder. These are two such stories

 29545 Corporal Keith John O'Leary

Keith served in Vietnam from the 24 April 1970 till the 29 October 1970. He passed away in 2009. Rather than a long search interrupted by time limitations on the Victorian Government BDM’s. It was here that War Graves came into the search and provided me the exact date of Keith’s death. The newspapers then provided me the names of the family and, above all, the name of the Funeral Directors as well as where Keith was buried.

Two phone calls later and Keeren, who had the medals, with the aid of Rob Brown OAM (President) and Glenda Marin (Secretary) of Cobram RSL, was able to start the process whereby Keith’s Vietnam Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, were on their way to Keith’s son Shaun. As to where the medals had been since Keith applied for replacement medals in 1990, until they surfaced in 2019, is a mystery.

VX111521 Private Arthur John McDonald 

The return of Arthur’s medals owes much to Tina’s husband Kevin who found the medals in a shed nearly a decade ago, and Tina who kept the search going. Tina’s search was aided by the Team at the Australian Surname Group: GenieLiz, Huggable Montie, VTinOZ, Isobella, and Tree Fae.

Rather than write a story that will in no way show the contribution of these people who together were able to find Arthur’s son, now living in Darwin, here is the full story.


When I talked to Arthur’s son, he told me he lasts remembers seeing his father’s medals sometime before his mother died in 1989.

The returned medal tally is now 2573. 

19 October 2020

Thomas McDowell

I’ve collaborated on several occasion with Ted Ayres from York, WA to return medals. This latest story is the most intriguing and the difficult search. Ted told me he had been approached by fellow York resident, Brian, about a medal he had. Brian was originally a Queenslander and had been an officer in the RAAF throughout the 70s and 80s and later a police officer.                   

The medal Brian had was a British War Medal awarded to 1910 Thomas McDowell who enlisted in Queensland in 1916 and was with the 4th Pioneer Battalion, AIF. Tom served on the Western Front where, like so many at that time, was gassed. The medal came in to the possession of Brian’s family via his grandfather who was a great friend of Tom’s. Both had been miner in Charters Towers between the wars. Tom gave Brian's grandfather a pair of engraved cuff links thanking him for being a good mate some time prior to WW2 along with the BWM. Tom passed away in 1939, however Brian recalls his grandfather and his father speaking with great affection about Tom.

Following the death of his grandfather and father, Brian became the custodian of Tom’s BWM which has now been in Brian’s family for over 80 years. Given Brian’s history of service in the ADF, he was very conscious that there might be a family of Tom’s out there somewhere who would better be the custodian of the medal.

Ted and Brian did some initial research and accessed Tom’s WWI service record and that’s when things got confusing. The service record indicate that Tom was married to Violet McDowell and living in South Brisbane at the time of enlistment in 1916. However, later in the records there is an indication that his widow, Josephine McDowell, was applying for a grant under the War Service Homes Act.

This is the point that I got involved. Thomas proved very difficult to track down and there were conflicting details in the public records. It was only by using his service number or unit name in separate searches on Trove did I piece together most of the story. Confusing the search was the fact that Thomas occasionally used his middle name of Henry. Once I confirmed that Thomas McDowell and Thomas Henry McDowell were the same person the story unfolded.

Thomas died in 1939 and I found his obituary but no children were mentioned. I was also able to follow Thomas and Violet in the Queensland electoral rolls up until 1939. The clue from the obituary that help considerably was that Thomas was born in Victoria, not in Charters Towers as listed in the service record.

I then went to the Victorian BDM records and it was at this point I found the first mention of Thomas Henry. Using the full name I found a newspaper notice placed by Mrs TH McDowell about the desertion by her husband.

The wife’s name is not given but it indicates that Thomas Henry was an engine driver which is also the employment for Thomas in the electoral rolls.

I still couldn’t confirm the link between Thomas and Josephine and on a hunch, based on the desertion notice placing the wife in Boulder, WA I looked at the WA BDMs and found a marriage between Thomas Henry McDowell and Josephine Sharkey in WA in 1902. This is just too much of a coincidence and I knew I had the right family. I also found that they had three children. Two of the three children (both sons) died in infancy. The surviving child was a daughter, Therese

The only family member that I could follow now was Therese. This is when the second major brick wall arose but it was principally through newspaper articles that I could unravel the family tree. What I did find interesting is the search started in FNQ, moved to Victoria then WA and back to FNQ. 

The next mention I found of  Therese was her marriage to Peter Doyle. Of most interest was the mention that Therese was the daughter of Mr and Mrs TH McDowell. This suggests that Thomas was still connected to Therese in some way.

Peter and Therese were the licensees of several hotels in Townsville and Ingham over the years. However, they lived a house in Railway Estate, Townsville and I could follow them through the electoral rolls. And thanks to the gossip column of the Townsville Bulletin, I knew when Josephine visited her daughter.

In the 1950s the clues ran dry except for one article that mentioned that the children of Peter and Therese Doyle were named Peter and Janice. I was running out of options until I found a family tree which included them. A message to the tree owner soon put me in touch with Jancie. The family story that Janice told me pretty much aligns with what I found although she did add that Thomas is reputed to have spent time in the South African gold fields as well.

Thanks to Peter McH who facilitated the final connection with Janice. 

The returned medal tally is now 2567.   


17 October 2020

Helping out a mate and the QPS

I'm been connected with a group of researchers for close to 20 years now. The initial common topic was the Australian Light Horse but we all have other areas of expertise. While most of our interactions are online, we have met multiple times over the years. They have also been very supportive when I've deployed. So when one asks for help, I drop everything else for them.

On Wednesday, Tim L who works for the Queensland Police Service, inquired about an Australian Defence Medal that the QPS were looking to return. By Thursday morning I was able to provide the full name of the former soldier to Tim although the contact details I found were from 2007 and not current. However, the name was enough for Tim to find the owner. Tim has now sent the medal back to Robert who is very thankful that his ADM has been returned having misplaced it years ago.

The returned medal tally is now 2566. 

11 October 2020

What's in a name?

Bill's success stories from today.

Australian Defence Medal 1939-45

At the request of the families involved much of the research has been omitted. However without the help of the team at Australian Surnames Group I feel I would still be wandering in the dark awaiting for the current restrictions to be lifted so I could physically access the Victorian State Library’s records, that is if there was anything in the records that would help the search. To date having concluded both searches, I doubt it.


The first search, well actually the first hurdle was Raymond himself, as I was later to find. His date of birth on his enlistment papers did not match up with the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages data base (BDM’s). But that is not new; many young men ‘fiddled’ their date of birth when enlisting. So it was on to Marriages and there was his marriage to Margaret.

Raymond died in 1994, which while outside the current released NSW BDM’s, it was still later enough to be picked up by the Ryerson Index. This in turn led me to the Worona Memorial Park. A quick check on line, while there was no actual Raymond there was a Raphael/Raymond. A quick check back to the BDM’s and there was a Raphael born in the same year as ‘our’ Raymond.

But back to the Memorial Park, and Raphael’s (Raymond’s) burial plaque, which mentioned his children, and his daughter’s very distinctive name. I later asked his daughter why Raymond and not Raphael? Her answer was quite simple. “Dad didn’t like Raphael, so he changed it to Raymond”.


If Raymond’s story was of changing names, then George’s was one of shortening them, and following marriage convention, where a wife would not only change her surname but also in many cases adopt those of her husband.


NX81519 Sergeant George Charles Flight


The return of George’s medal owes much to the searching skills of the Australian Surnames Group, who, when an ever widening gap opened in the search, were able to step over it.


One of the problems of research is that with the introduction of printed forms, that only just have to be filled in is that they usually only accommodate two given names. In George’s case where there were three, George Charles and Martin, literally from his Christening the Martin was almost always omitted, there being no position for a third given name on forms. So that whenever I came across George’s name written in full, I often had to stop and backtrack that I was still following the ‘right’ George Charles Flight.

BDM’s often our first ‘go to’ was strangely’ silent while it did list George’s siblings, little else could be developed. Of his seven siblings, three did not marry. One, Nancy, disappeared completely. One died having had no children.

So now it was time to follow George’s brother Joseph, and his sister Eileen.

From a promising start Joseph’s path was soon overgrown. That left Charles’ sister Eileen as the best if not the only option. From there it was ‘easy’ path to Eileen’s grandson Jonathon, Charles’ great- nephew.

As we sat talking over the phone and I went through the family tree and how we had ‘found’ the family. The one question I had to ask was who was Mrs A.E.Bridges? The name on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission postcard that was in George’s file.

To which Jonathon replied “That was Aunty Nancy”.


Once again thanks to Gary E for referring these searches to Bill.

The returned medal tally is now 2565,