29 April 2020

Help to the NSW Police Force

Over the 20 years that I've been returning medals I've developed some research skills that might not be apparent to others. That is why I really enjoy helping other agencies when a medal comes their way.
Today's search for the family of a WWII veteran started with a message from Senior Constable D of the NSW Police Force. D had a 1939-45 Australian Service Medal and was seeking the family but was stuck at the point of only knowing the general location where the veteran was from. While the details of the veteran and his wife were easy to follow until their deaths in the 1980s the real challenge was working out who their children were. I knew they had two daughters but working out their married names was the real challenge.
One obscure reference gave me a clue of what one daughter's first name was. I then lined this up with just one NSW marriage record from 1955. This gave me a married name and from there it was easy. The soldier's daughter had given her maiden name to her her son as his middle name. 
I was certain that I had the right family so provided the details to D who responded that the contact details I gave him were in the same regional area that he is.
Five minutes later, D messaged me to say that I was spot on and he had just spoken to a very emotional grandson.
I might be able to add some detail to this story in the future but if not, knowing that I could assist the NSW Police was very satisfying.
The returned medal tally is now 2463

28 April 2020

Clarence Wright

This story is quite simple but the emotion behind it is substantial.
I recently received the Australian Service Medal 1939-45 awarded to NX25846 Clarence Vincent Wright from the Directorate of Honours and Awards. I started the search on 26 April and very quickly found Clarence in an Ancestry tree. I sent off a message to the tree owner and got an almost immediate reply. I was communicating with Clarence's granddaughter. This is Rennee and she was about to pass my message to her Auntie Julie who is Clarence's daughter.
Today Julie called me and it was a really a fantastic discussion. My effort to find Clarence's family really wasn't that much but the emotion and relief that Julie expressed was beyond description.
Where the medal has been prior to it being sent to Honours and Awards is a mystery but where it is headed now is where it belongs.
The returned medal tally is now 2462. 

26 April 2020

Nigel Barlow

This Anzac Day weekend is proving to be very productive in terms of successful searches.
This morning I started the search for NX78181 Nigel John Barlow. The available records for Nigel proved to be helpful and it soon became apparent that Nigel and his wife Joan did not have any children.
I then turned to look at his sister, also named Joan, who married Jack Sheppard. The electoral roll gave me the name of Joan and Jack's son who I soon located in the White Pages. Within 30 minutes of starting this search I was talking to Nigel's nephew and arranging to return the medals. 
The returned medal tally is now 2461. 

25 April 2020

Police Sergeant Herbert Lloyd

These last few weeks have presented quite to opportunity to look at some of those searches that have foiled me in the past.
I received the National Medal awarded to Herbert Alan Lloyd in 2013. Herbert was born in the UK in 1936 and emigrated to Australia in 1950. He had a long career in the South Australian Police, dying in 2012.
The searches that involve people from SA are quite difficult given that there so few records available publicly. This search was finalised with the help of Dana who had posted a tree on Ancestry which included Herbert. Dana was able to connect me with Herbert's son Daryl who I'll send the medal to in the near future.
Thanks to Neville C who sent me the medal originally.
The returned medal tally is now 2457.

18 April 2020

Chief Gunner - David Ogilvie

This WWI group of three medals have been with me for 13 years. The medals were awarded to Chief Gunner David Ogilvie. Over the years I've revisited the research and thanks to more information being available online I've picked up another clue or two about David but never quite enough to resolve the search.
A recent review of my notes and a new search linked David to an Ancestry tree. What I had previously put together and what I now know from the relative I've been in touch with is that David was the son of David William Ogilvie and Margaret Ogilvie. He was born in Eglin, Scotland in 1871. David had four siblings, Eliza (b1855-?), Annie Isabella (1859-1902), Margaret (1862-?), Lily (1868-1948) and Catherine (b1874-died in infancy).
David married Phyllis Marion O'Sullivan in 1901 and was a member of the Royal Navy. When the RAN was being established, following Federation, many sailors were loaned by the British Royal Navy to the RAN. A brief RAN service record for David is available at this link. After WWI,  David and Phyllis remained in Australia. David died in 1945 and Phyllis in 1949. They did not have any children.
Through Ancestry I've been in contact with Doug who is the great grandson of Annie Isabella.
Doug tells me that: 'David's father (David William) appears to have been quite a character and had mixed fortunes during his life. He started out as a photographer but took over his father's shoe making business. He may have had 'social problems' which affected his business. Eventually he ended up in the Elgin Poorhouse where he died in 1899. The Poorhouse records stated he was a widower but in fact his wife had moved back to her roots in Arbroath where she died in 1915. Her tombstone has the following inscription - In memory of Margaret Ogilvie who died 25th Feb 1915 aged 80 years - erected by her son David, officer of HMAS Australia'.
David was indeed an officer aboard HMAS Australia as the Chief Gunner. It appears that in 1916 he was promoted to Command Gunner.
Thanks go to Dave G who originally sent the medals to me.
The returned medal tally is now 2455.


12 April 2020


Even though I have seen this so often when researching families, I am still amazed at the long term impacts from two world wars. This is yet another example of where a large family line ceased in two generations.
My research is of 413079 Flying Officer Alfred Charles Roland Flashman but I'm going to start this story with his grand father and show how quickly a family line can become extinct.
Alfred's grandfather was Charles Ordry Flashman. Charles, a brother and two sisters emigrated to Australia in the early 1860s. Charles was a teacher by profession and after time as a head master of several school in NSW he was appointed as an inspector of education. A position he held for many decades. 
Of the four siblings in this family, the brother married but had no children, the sisters were spinsters. and Charles had three sons. The sons were; Harold Norman Flashman, a bachelor grazer near Tamworth, Alfred Eldred Flashman, a bachelor solicitor from Mosman and Alfred John Flashman a solicitor from Nyngan NSW. Alfred became the shire mayor as well.
Alfred and his wife Gladys had three children; a daughter Jen who died in 1923 aged six years, a son Bruce who died in 1948 having never married and Alfred.
Alfred joined the RAAF in 1941 and became a Lancaster pilot. He was part of the crew of Lancaster LM 324 which took part in a bombing mission on 15 June 1943 over Oberhausen, Germany. The aircraft was shot down and all the crew were KIA. This link is to the NAA file for the repatriation of Alfred's personal effects and also contains some of the correspondence to his father following confirmation of Alfred's death. The very last page mentions that Alfred was engaged to a Miss B Hooke of Toronto, Canada. A RAAF officer was dispatched to notify her of Alfred's death. This link to Canada most likely means that Alfred completed the Empire Air Training Scheme in Canada.
I found mention of Alfred's ill fated mission on another website and have added copy of the information and a picture of the aircraft at the bottom of this post.
Alfred is buried in Heverlee War Cemetery, 30km to the east of Brussels.

This branch of the Flashman family died out in just two generations so I have had to go back quite some way to find another line that is related. I'll soon send them Alfred's Australian Service Medal 1939-45. As can be seen in the pictures the medal disc has come away from the suspender which is how it came to be lost.

Another picture I found online was that of Alfred's uncle Arthur's headstone.

Alfred's medal was sent to me by Ron in 2015 and the returned medal tally is now 2452.

Avro Lancaster III (LM324 UV-) on a mission to Oberhausen on 1943-06-15

  • lancaster.jpeg

On Monday, 14 June 1943, (a part of) the aircraft of the 460 squadron (RAAF), took off for a mission to Oberhausen in Germany from a station (airfield) in or near Binbrook. One of the crew members was A14228 Flight Sergeant D P Birk RAAF. He departed for his mission at 22:54. He flew with a Avro Lancaster (type III, with serial LM324 and code UV-). His mission and of the other crew members was planned for Tuesday, 15 June 1943.

11 April 2020

Leslie Powell

This return is another result of revisiting an old case. It commenced in 2011 when I received the 1914-15 Star awarded to 131 Sapper Leslie William Powell who served in 1st Field Company, Engineers.
Leslie was born in Shepard's Bush, London. It is unclear exactly when he emigrated to Australia. He was a very early enlistee in to the AIF which is represented by his low Regimental Number, 131. His actual enlistment date is 15 September 1914 which was just five weeks after war was declared.
Leslie's 38 page service record is quite detailed about the administrative aspects of his service. It shows that he was 28 years old in 1914 and that he had served for three years in the British Army, Royal Engineers prior to leaving the UK. Leslie's time at Gallipoli was interspersed with periods of hospitalisation due to various diseases and other illness. Interestingly, he is listed as missing in August 1915 but I suspect that his admission to hospital was not known by his unit at the time. I checked the unit War Diary and no mention is made of this event. In late 1915 he was returned to Australia for a three month period of convalescence. By the end of 1916, Leslie was back in England and did a series of training courses before heading to the front in France. He was hospitalised on several more occasions as well as being charged for AWOL a couple of times. Leslie was finally discharged in 1920.
Leslie's service record names his sister, Kathleen Vera Powell, as his next of kin. Kathleen lived in Ealing, UK. This really didn't help searching for a relative in Australia which was quite confusing as there were quite a few people with exactly the same name. I found Leslie's death notice from 1954. Leslie died while a resident of the Narrabeen War Veterans Home. Using this information I was able to back track and piece together Leslie's life after WWI.
Leslie marred Amelia Harris in the late 1920s. The were both in the 40s and they didn't have any children. Amelia died in 1948. Leslie's sister Kathleen looked like my best option to follow but I couldn't find any records of her. I then turned to Amelia's family. She was one of eight children but as with so many families of that era, there were no further generations. I followed each of Amelia's siblings and by using a combination of birth, deaths and marriage records and death notices I could confirm that there were no children to six of the siblings. The only brother of Amelia's I couldn't completely rule out as having had children died in 1959. He died in Dubbo and the local paper isn't available online so I wrote to the editor of the paper asking if the paper had any records of this family but I didn't receive a reply.
In 2014 I revisited the search and nothing new about the Harris family emerged. I then turned to the Powell family in the UK. Leslie was the son of William and Augusta Powell but beyond that I found nothing.
Yesterday I did another search on Ancestry and found a recently published Powell family tree which included Leslie. What I didn't know previously was that Leslie had a brother. I've now been connected with this family and will send them Leslie's 1914-15 Star in the near future.   
Leslie's medal was one of several groups that was sent to me by Diane F in 2011. All these medals came from a second hand store that she ran for many years and once the shop closed she thought the medals were best back with the family.
The returned medal tally is now 2451.

10 April 2020

Bob Goodwin

I'm back to revisiting some of the older searches where a result has eluded me in the past. As always I am hopeful that new information posted online will give me the clue I need which will help locate a family.

The search for the family of 76399 Ernest (Bob) Vaughn Goodwin started so well about six years ago. I had Bob's date of birth, his place of birth, his NOK, all the basics which usually lead to success. But once the research got to 1980, when the online electoral rolls end, I was stumped.
I had a look at this research again today and found a new family tree on Ancestry which gave me the name of Bob's brother; information that I didn't have previously. From there I was able to piece together the missing information that led me to the family of Bob's brother.
I didn't quite have the correct family construct but with a lot of help from Corporal S, I was put in touch with the the right person to send Bob's medals to.
Thanks go to Lascel V Z, who sent me the medals originally and to CPL S who facilitated my contact with Bob's family and greatly assisted this search being resolved in about three hours after it took me six years to get this far.
The returned medal tally is now 2450.  

02 April 2020

Alfred's medals

Bill's latest success.

Many of our searches begin with the Victorian Police Force. In the case of ‘Alfred’ it also ended with them.
His medals were found one Sunday afternoon on the road past the local tip. The finder who takes this walk regularly with his son, admitted he was quite surprised when his son came up to him and asked if the medals he had found on the side of the road were real. Indeed, they were. But it was Mum who cleaned them and then contacted the RSL seeking help to return them.
Slowly, and it has been a slow search, mainly because Alfred’s last listing in the electoral roll was before his young son was included. The complications continued when Alfred's wife remarried, and of course changed her name.
I finally got to the end of the search but at the request of Alfred’s son I have cut short describing the full search.
While Alfred's son is most appreciative to get his father’s medals it is almost matched by the excitement felt by the finder of these medals and whose mother cleaned them then sought our help.
The returned medal tally is now 2446.