27 September 2020

VX28889 Private Colin Francis Orbell and VX44036 Private Raymond William Betts

A new day brings another success story from Bill. 

Two of the best places we start when returning medals is to look up the National Archives of Australia, to see if the complete service record is available  then to compare it with the DVA nominal roll.

This search was for two soldiers. Colin Orbell was born in Hawthorn Victoria in 1920 and Ray Betts was born in Wellington New Zealand in 1906. They had both been discharged on medical grounds in 1944, having served in New Guinea and that is where the similarity began and ended. That was until the medals were ‘discovered’ in 2013.

It is now almost two years since the medals awarded to Orbell and Betts were passed to me. Prior to this I believe there have been several attempts to return the two groups of five medals, but with no success. So the search began anew. It was not until I hit the brick wall in regard to Orbell, that I turned to Betts. I should have started with Betts, not only was his death details registered on the Ryerson Index, but his death notice was available on line. And like so many of that era, it laid out literally a family history.

But it wasn’t until I started to lay out Ray’s family tree that the penny dropped. Then comparing both family trees it bounced. Colin and Ray, were related through marriage. It was Lorraine, Ray’s daughter who filled me in on this relationship. She was also Colin’s niece. It is to her I have returned the medals, along with the request that the family be made aware of them and a plan be put into action to ensure their safety and future.

The returned medal tally is now 2549.





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