31 May 2020

H E Miller

When I started this search I had to think hard about which soldier I was looking at. I only recently received the WWI Victory Medal awarded to 1073 Henry Ernest Miller. When I searched his name the first result I got was for a 2010 story from my own blog. This was not for the current search but for 3387 Henry Ernst Miller
Once I sorted out my own confusion I looked at some other resources and found 1073 Henry on an Ancestry family tree. My message to the tree owner was answered very promptly and she is 1073 Henry's daughter. The search took less than 20 minutes.
This medal was found on a road in Frankston, Victoria. As can be seen in the photos the medal was had a tough life. It looks like it has been run over a mower on several occasions.
Thanks to Emily S who sent the medal to me.
The returned medal tally is now 2479.
A portrait of Henry taken during WWI.


This search was quite easy and was resolved within an hour of commencement. However, what it did open up to me was many hours of family research that had been done on NX8038 Neil Fisher Henderson.
I received three WWII medals awarded to Neil from the Directorate of Honours and Awards and commenced the search yesterday afternoon. Neil was a Lance Sergeant in 2/33 Battalion. He was killed in action on 23 June 1941 and is buried in the Commonwealth War Cemetery Damascus, Syria. 
Neil was the son of Harry Morphett Henderson and Elizabeth. From Harry's death notice I found the name of his other son which was Jack Morphett Henderson. Then from Jack's death notice the name's of his sons: William, Robert and James. It didn't surprise me that William's second name was Morphett. William died in 2019. His death notice gave me his widow's name and I was able to find her number in the White Pages. We had a lovely conversation and I was provided the contact details for Neil's nephew, James (Jim). 
After speaking to Jim I was given access to an extensive file that records Neil's service. This was compiled by another of Neil's nephews. I've spent the morning reading a transcript of the diary that Neil kept. It is a typical record of the mundane life of a soldier and completely fascinating. The rerun of these medals are going to add to the family archive.
Thanks once again to Donna from the Directorate of Honours and Awards for trusting me to complete this search and to Jim (and Hugh) for all the extra information on Neil.
The returned medal tally is now 2478

30 May 2020

More assistance to the WA Police Force

This search started with a referral from my friend Sandra in WA. She saw a social media post looking for the family of a medal which was handed in to the Port Headland Police Station after Anzac Day. The medal was awarded to WX13350 William Edward Kearns. The search was quite easy and it took about 20 minutes to locate the name of William's great grandson. I've connected him with the Police Officer from Port Headland to let them arrange the return.
Thanks for the referral Sandra.
The returned medal tally is now 2475.

24 May 2020

WWI Royal Artillery KIA

Searches involving medals awarded to British soldiers can be a little problematic. The main issue is the lack of service records available online. Many were lost during WWII as a result of the Blitz.
When a service record is accessible, the search becomes so much easier. These records contain the name of the next of kin, their address as well as the names of any children. This provides a great starting point. This particular search benefited from having a complete service record available.
My part in the travels of this British War Medal commenced with the arrival of a package from the Directorate of Honours and Awards. The Honours and Awards staff had received three WWI medals from the NSW Police Liverpool station but where they came from before that is unknown to me. One of the medals is the BWM awarded to 103269 Gunner Albert Stanley Christian, Royal Garrison Artillery.
From Albert's service record I knew that he was a 31 year old drapers assistant from Lancaster, UK. His wife was Harriet (nee Hudson) and their son was Cyril. Albert enlisted on 10 July 1916 and was a gunner in the 2/3rd Siege Battery. Albert was killed in action in France on 28 April 1917. He is buried in Henin Communal Cemetery Extension.
Not only did this search get off to a great start with access to Albert's service record but he is also included in many Ancestry family trees. 30 minutes after I started looking for Albert, I was looking at a picture of his wedding to Harriet in 1910.
This is the full wedding party.
One of the Ancestry family trees appeared to be owned by Albert's grandson so I fired off a message. Overnight I've heard back from John and sure enough I have the right family.
How this medal traveled from Lancaster, UK to Liverpool, NSW is a mystery. A reverse journey will now occur when I send this medal back to John in Lancaster.
The returned medal tally is now 2474.

22 May 2020

Help to WA Police Force

It is always great to assist the Police. This time it is the WA Police Force.
The returned medal tally is now 2473.

17 May 2020

John Charleston - NZEF

Following WWI, the next of kin of British and Empire soldiers who died during WWI received a Memorial Plaque. The plaque is often called the Dead Man's Penny. It is made of bronze and over the years many have been sold for their scrap metal value.
The plaque only has the name of the soldier who died. Their rank and any decorations are not included as the concept was that in death all are equal despite their rank and what they might have done to have died.
When I was first contacted about the Memorial Plaque sent to the family of John Charleston, I thought that with no middle initial it was going to be hard to determine which soldier to research. However, a search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission showed that there were two candidates. One for WWI and one from WWII. That discovery was a relief.
The soldier I was researching was 33301 John Charleston who was a rifleman in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. John died of disease on 15 March 1918. He is buried at Codford St Mary New Churchyard in the UK.
John was married to Mary Agnes (Dolly) Skyes. Dolly was born in NSW and moved to NZ where she married John. After John died, Dolly returned to Australia with some of their children. Their children where Clarence (remained in NZ), Annie, Arthur and Kenneth. Dolly later remarried Archibald Flemming. Dolly looks to be about six in this photo.
Unraveling the family tree of John and Dolly's children proved complicated. I even resorted to contacting the Funeral Directors who arranged some of the family funerals but this proved unsuccessful.
It was through Ancestry that I have found a relative. This is Dianne and has a great interest in the history of this whole family. I'll send her the Memorial Plaque in the near future.    
How the Memorial Plaque came to me is also an interesting story. In March I received a call Amanda R. Amanda told me that her for many years her father would buy items at flea markets and auctions. The plan was to save military memorabilia and use it is displays. Amanda and her father had John's plaque for a many years but she thought that it was best back with the family.
What adds to this return is that the plaque is still in it's original envelope and packaging.
The returned medal tally is now 2472.  

WWI - Died of Wounds

756 Allan Douglas MacDonald was 19 years old when he enlisted in the AIF on 11 January 1915. His widowed mother lived in Kinglake, Victoria, and had to provide written permission for him to enlist. This note can be found on page 20 of the service record. Allan's mother later moved to Whittlesea, Victoria. He was allocated to 22nd Battalion, AIF.
Allan seems to have had a little bit of trouble with authority and was charged a number of times for failing to obey an order and failing to return from leave. He also saw a fair bit of fighting. In June 1916 he received a gun shot wound to his right hip for which he was hospitalised and spent time in England. Allan was wounded a second time on 19 September 1917, this time the wound was to his head and lower jaw. He didn't recover and died of his wounds later that day.
Allen is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in the Ypres Salient.
I had a bit of difficulty following Allan's mother,. but in his service record there is one reference to his brother, Keith Colin MacDonald. Keith went on to serve in WWII. This link it to a photo which includes Keith in New Guinea.
I recently reviewed the search for Allan's family and came across a new Ancestry family tree. As a result I've now been in contact with a relative of Allan's who I'll return the medal to. They still live in Whittlesea so the medal is going full circle.
Allan's Victory Medal has had a tough life. It is well worn and the impressed naming is difficult to read. The medal condition can be seen in these photos.
Thanks to Vicki D who sent me the medal in 2014.
The returned medal tally is now 2471.

10 May 2020

National Medal

This National Medal came to me from a surprising new contact, the Honours and Awards Secretariat at Government House. It is a pleasure to provide assistance to Vince.
The medal was awarded to Len Thomas. From Commonwealth Gazette entries I knew that Len was an Army Reserve Sergeant in the Royal Australian Artillery and that he received the Efficiency Medal in 1968. From this I could roughly work out that Len enlisted 1953 and was, therefore, born around 1935.
The only other information I found out about Len was five electoral roll entries from 1958 to 1980. After that I could find nothing so I started to think that Len might be dead. I put out a call for help on the Australian Genealogy face book page and with in minutes I had a message from Nicole (who has helped me in the past) to let me know that Len is still alive and his phone number.
I've now spoken to Len who told me that he was called up for National Service in 1955, was posted to an Air Defence unit from 1956 to 1972 and then to 23 Field Regiment, RAA, until he discharged in 1980.
The returned medal tally is now 2470.

06 May 2020

Korean War group

This search was pretty bizarre, mainly because it started with a wealth of detailed information, went no where and ended with success.
It started with an email from a very hardworking advocate from a Queensland RSL sub-branch. The advocate had a lifetime worth of documents, and a medal group, belonging to a deceased Korean War veteran. The documents included a statement that the veteran wanted his medals to be left to his young grandson and that his daughter was to be the custodian for the time being. The statement even gave their full names. Despite this detail there was only one slight lead to follow. The two names I had were listed on a US criminal background search website as 'maybe related to Dxxxxx', but this possible information was behind a very expensive paywall. It wasn't worth the outlay of $1000USD to find out that the maybe information was actually irreverent to the search. I did find it interesting that neither name had any digital footprint at all.  
The veteran was only mentioned in three electoral rolls between 1958 and 1980 but from this it was clear that he had been married twice. I took this information back to the advocate and it was just what was needed to find the name of a relative who had an enduring power of attorney. The medals and all the documents relating to the veteran will shortly be back with his family.  
Well done to the advocate who has been chipping away with this search for several years. He did say that I was his last resort and I was very pleased to help out.
The returned medal tally is now 2469.