15 September 2020

William Molloy

Bill is on a roll this week.

The search for the family of  Private William Molloy Regimental Number 3876, started on a road in NSW, when a passing motorist stopped to investigate a wallet lying on the road side. Inside the wallet were two WW1 medals of a Private William Molloy, a copper Maltese cross, two photos and of all things a WW1 Soldiers pay book.

The first question after an initial search for Bill, was that how did a soldier who died in 1957, and whose wife passed away in 1987, come to be on a NSW highway in 2019. And at that point I will stop the discussion on how it got there. I will leave that for the next generation of historians.

So now it was back to Bill and his family. By now if you are a regular reader of the blog, your first thought would be ‘the family tree’. And Bill did have an impressive family tree. At least until the on-line Births, Deaths and Marriages ran out. Then it was back to newspapers and an incredible stoke of luck. Many of the newspapers I needed to follow the family were not locked up behind the barrier that Newspapers have now erected where if you need to access information where once it was free, must now be paid for. Despite this, it was the Ryerson Index that gave me the death details of John Molloy, Bill’s brother. However, death notices are not always as helpful as sometimes one imagines, particularly when 12 of the 13 names mention in the introduction to a death notice are noted being deceased.

After all that, Bill’s medals are now ‘home’ with his great nephew, John, who with his family, who now have the responsibility of caring for and keeping the medals in trust.

The returned medal tally is now 2528.







13 September 2020

REED or REID?

This is Bill's latest success. Even though all the details can't be told, Bill has manage to weave a story which also shows the frustrations these searches can cause. 

Ever thought of how many variations you can get in the spelling of a name? The return of Frank’s medals is in a way, a good but simple example.

It is over three years since his medals along with his Australian Legion of Ex-Servicemen and Women badge and Blood Donors badge, were discovered in a collection of clothing and household goods passed in to a Salvation Army Op-Shop’. And it is almost 18 months since I received them.

The search began as so many of our searches do, from  his entry in the Australian War Memorials WW2 Nominal Roll. Then to the Victorian, Births, Deaths and  Marriages, and here the first discrepancy arose. Frank’s AWM, and National Archives entries all showed him as having been born in 1919, the 16th February 1919 to be exact. But there was no entry for a Frank Edward REED in 1919 or 1920. Or even before, in the Victorian Government on line ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’.

So did he put up his age to enlist, or put it down? Adding to the confusion was that there no details of Frank’s passing with Australian War Graves. Then it was to the newspapers looking for Funeral notices for a Frank Edward REED. But was this ‘our Frank’? To answer this question, it was necessary to develop a family tree and either fit Frank into it, or ‘it’ to Frank. First was to find his father, John and his marriage, well all of the men named John REED who had married in the 20 years before Frank’s supposed birth, in Country Victoria. Then came the plodding part. Looking at all of the John REEDs who had married in that time frame, and there were 15 who ‘fitted the bill’ as it were.

Then to look at children born to the couples. Quickly John Richard REED and Christina Ellen HICKINGBOTHAM stood out. Three of their children had been born in Yea, Victoria. It was in Yea that Frank’s records showed he had been born. But there was no Frank Edward REED born up till 1920, in Yea or anywhere else. It was then back almost to the beginning. 

It was here I ‘discovered’ that a Frank Edward REID had been born in 1919 in Yea to a John and Christina REID, as had a Ronald Richard REID in 1917. Stepping aside as it were I followed up on both. It transpired that both Frank and his brother Ronald had married as ‘REED’, their father’s Surname. So why was the records never corrected? “Yes why”? 

Sadly Frank’s wife had predeceased him, their only daughter dying three years later in 2005. So again then it was off at a tangent. If Frank and Mary’s house had been sold and it would have been after the death of their daughter. Who sold it? Enter  a ‘Good Fairy’ from a local real estate Agency, who handled the sale. Who took it on to contact the sellers.

Two weeks ago on my Saturday walk, I detoured to ‘Jenny’s’ and passed her Uncle Fred’s medals. I also left her with the responsibility to ensure that they would be passed on to the next generation to be kept in trust. The family may not be so lucky if they should be lost for a second time. 

When I sat down with a friend recently, and detailed the search. Other than a “well done, Batman”. His main interest was that I had wandered all over the place in my search. I agreed. But with the current restrictions here in Victoria, many of the traditional research facilities are closed. The only option left was the ‘scatter gun’ approach. Searching on many fronts at the same time, waiting for results then attempting to draw those results into the one frame. But this is a path that must be followed if medals are to go back to the recipient’s family. And not just the easy option of anybody who knew the original recipient.

As for his other question “Well where have they been for 15 years”? All I could say was “Dunno Robin, dunno”.

 

 The returned medal tally is now 2526.

12 September 2020

George Welsh

 

A great story from Bill who had far more input in to the return that he has portrayed below. Well done Bill.

 

It never ceases to amaze me where medals turn up from. In the case of Cpl George Arnold Welsh’s 1939-1945 Australian Service Medal, it was found under the carpet of a second hand car that was being prepared for sale.

It will now take its rightful place in George's medal display replacing the replica that has filled in for it.

This return owes much to Mr Bahr one of the Trustees of the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial, Ballarat, to whom the medal was originally passed by the finder.

 

The returned medal tally is now 2524.


Medal return:  Barry Welsh (left) (son of CPL George Arnold WELSH) accepting the return of the original Australian Service Medal 1939-1945 from Bill Bahr Trustee of The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

Huntley Lindsay

Three WWII medals awarded to 253523 Flight Lieutenant Huntley Edward Lindsay came to me from the WA Police Force. Huntley was from a prominent family in the Greenbushes area of WA. I found several newspaper articles about Huntley from the 1930s but very little about his RAAF service during WWII or in the years following the war. 

I had to put a lot of fragments of information together and then make some assumptions about Huntley's family construct. Once I got to what I assumed was the solution I was able to retrace my research steps and satisfy myself that I had a 95% answer.

Huntley had a daughter, Suzette, who attended Methodist Ladies College in Claremont. She finished high school in 1963. My family will realise the MLC connection although Suzette started at MLC after Gail had finished. It took quite a bit of searching to narrow down that Suzette married Keith Moylan but after 1980 the trail went very cold. Eventually I found Suzette's death notice which gave the first names of her daughter and son. However, even this information didn't lead to immediate success. The only trace of Suzettte's son that I found was on a closed Face Book ocean yacht race page. By pure chance, a friend of mine is a member of the same closed group so I asked for a message to be passed to Huntley's grandson. I received an email overnight confirming the connection and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the grandson's middle name is Huntley. 

There are two other aspects of this search that are worth noting. The medals were issued in the 1970s. This can be determined by they way they are hand engraved rather than impressed. This was standard for RAAF medals that were issued in that time period. Secondly, Huntley's elder brother, Norman William John Lindsay was killed in action at the Somme on 24 July 1918. 

Thanks to Ian G who passed my message to the Moylan family. The returned medal tally is now 2523.