29 January 2020

Charles George Shaw

When I saw that 4599 Charles George Shaw was a soldier from Tasmania I thought I was in some difficult research. Based on previous experiences researching Tasmanian soldiers, I knew there are very few public records available on line. Even Ancestry only has a few electoral rolls available from the 1950s.
The search did start out to be quite confusing. The early records I could find named Charles' mother as Ellen (nee Atwell) but in the service record there is a letter from his mother but using the name Jane and she gave her address in Sydney. For a while I was quite confused then I discovered that in the last few months the Tasmanian public records office have made available online multiple Birth, Death and Marriage records as well as other important documents. All free and easily searchable.
What I discovered was that Charles' mother was indeed named Ellen; his father was Charles. However, Ellen died when Charles jnr was six years old. Within a year Charles snr had remarried, this time to Jane Bailey. What I also found was that Charles snr and Jane had another son; William Duncan Shaw. If this wasn't fantastic enough information, I also found a picture of Charles jnr.

After WWI, Charles jnr simply disappeared from the records. There is no record of him having married or dying. Given that he was single at age 40 when he enlisted I made the assumption that he had no direct descendants.
I then turned my attention to Charles' brother, William. He also served in WW1 with the regimental number 6826. After WWI William and his with Ruby lived in NSW. They were much easier to follow though the records and via death notices. William also served in WWII but he lied about his age and made himself 10 years younger than he really was in order to enlist.
William and Ruby had three daughters and it took some tricky maneuvers through the NSW BDM, electoral rolls and death notices to work out their married names. This lead me to the family of one of William's granddaughters who died in September 2019. Her death notice gave me her three daughter's first names but what their married names were eluded me.
The only solid piece of information I had was the name of the funeral director. On Monday I sent the company an email asking for a request that the family contact me be forwarded. First thing yesterday morning I received an email from William's great granddaughter who was able to confirm all the family connections. I'll send her the medals in the near future.
I am very grateful to the Directorate of Honours and Awards who sent me the medals after they had been handed in. Also to Robert B Walker Funeral Directors who forwarded my message on.
The sharp eye reader will have noticed that the ribbons are on the wrong medal. This is how the medals came to me and it looks like they have been like this for many years.
The returned medal tally is now 2425.

Fred Twining

This is another international return that has taken five years to finalise due to a few false starts.
42081 Frederick George Twining was a British WWI soldier in the Royal Artillery. Finding Fred proved difficult which caused the false starts.
The records alternated between spelling his surname Twining and Twinning. As a result, it took some time to determine that Fred was born in 1891 and died in 1934. But then the trail run cold, I just couldn't find a link to the current generation. I revisited this search recently and found a new tree on Ancestry that included Fred. I've just received a reply from the tree owner who is Fred's great grandson. This is Mike who tells me he is looking forward to surprising Fred's granddaughter, and her siblings, with Fred's medal.
The mystery remains about how this medal got to Australia since Fred's family remained in the UK.
Thanks to Roger S who sent the medal to me originally.
The returned medal tally is now 2423.  

13 January 2020

Haywood and Gascoigne medals

When Trevor P of the MacLean RSL Sub Branch contacted me about these two medal I thought that it was two different searches and one was going to be difficult. Trevor couldn't find the two soldiers in the Australian records but I soon determined that the WWI medal was awarded to a British soldier and the WWII medal to a South African Union Defence Force soldier. And that is were the difficult lay.
The WWI Victory Medal was awarded to Gunner John Arthur Haywwod, Royal Artillery. Public records shows that he was born in 1885, he was married to Sarah Jane Crook in 1909 and died in 1961 in the UK. I located Sarah and John's headstone (picture below) which does not mention any children. I also found all of John's siblings but is appears that very few of his quite large family had children either. There was no obvious link to Australia.
From previous experience I knew that there are precious few little public records available about the SAUDF. The only record I could find that mentions Corporal Edward W Gascoigne, was that he was a POW, having been captured in Italy by the Germans.
What I couldn't find was any link as to why these medals would be in Australia. After over 10 hours of research I had not progressed past the 1960s for the John and 1943 for Edward. Out of frustration I expanded the one Haywood family trees that I found and there, in a distant branch, the name Gascoigne appeared. I've now been in touch with the tree owner in the UK and will send her the medals in the near future. What we can't work out is how the medals ended up in Australia. All I can think of is that they were part of a family collection that changed hands multiple times and ended up here.
Thanks to Trevor who sent me the medals.
The returned medal tally is now 2422.