11 October 2020

What's in a name?

Bill's success stories from today.

Australian Defence Medal 1939-45

At the request of the families involved much of the research has been omitted. However without the help of the team at Australian Surnames Group I feel I would still be wandering in the dark awaiting for the current restrictions to be lifted so I could physically access the Victorian State Library’s records, that is if there was anything in the records that would help the search. To date having concluded both searches, I doubt it.


The first search, well actually the first hurdle was Raymond himself, as I was later to find. His date of birth on his enlistment papers did not match up with the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages data base (BDM’s). But that is not new; many young men ‘fiddled’ their date of birth when enlisting. So it was on to Marriages and there was his marriage to Margaret.

Raymond died in 1994, which while outside the current released NSW BDM’s, it was still later enough to be picked up by the Ryerson Index. This in turn led me to the Worona Memorial Park. A quick check on line, while there was no actual Raymond there was a Raphael/Raymond. A quick check back to the BDM’s and there was a Raphael born in the same year as ‘our’ Raymond.

But back to the Memorial Park, and Raphael’s (Raymond’s) burial plaque, which mentioned his children, and his daughter’s very distinctive name. I later asked his daughter why Raymond and not Raphael? Her answer was quite simple. “Dad didn’t like Raphael, so he changed it to Raymond”.


If Raymond’s story was of changing names, then George’s was one of shortening them, and following marriage convention, where a wife would not only change her surname but also in many cases adopt those of her husband.


NX81519 Sergeant George Charles Flight


The return of George’s medal owes much to the searching skills of the Australian Surnames Group, who, when an ever widening gap opened in the search, were able to step over it.


One of the problems of research is that with the introduction of printed forms, that only just have to be filled in is that they usually only accommodate two given names. In George’s case where there were three, George Charles and Martin, literally from his Christening the Martin was almost always omitted, there being no position for a third given name on forms. So that whenever I came across George’s name written in full, I often had to stop and backtrack that I was still following the ‘right’ George Charles Flight.

BDM’s often our first ‘go to’ was strangely’ silent while it did list George’s siblings, little else could be developed. Of his seven siblings, three did not marry. One, Nancy, disappeared completely. One died having had no children.

So now it was time to follow George’s brother Joseph, and his sister Eileen.

From a promising start Joseph’s path was soon overgrown. That left Charles’ sister Eileen as the best if not the only option. From there it was ‘easy’ path to Eileen’s grandson Jonathon, Charles’ great- nephew.

As we sat talking over the phone and I went through the family tree and how we had ‘found’ the family. The one question I had to ask was who was Mrs A.E.Bridges? The name on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission postcard that was in George’s file.

To which Jonathon replied “That was Aunty Nancy”.


Once again thanks to Gary E for referring these searches to Bill.

The returned medal tally is now 2565,

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