16 July 2022

Arthur Dwyer - WWI BWM

This return was rather straight forward from my perspective. however, the result is that much more exciting.

I recently received a message from Evelyn who had a WWI British War Medal to return to the family. The BWM was awarded to 60662 Arthur Dwyer. I soon found Arthur on an Ancestry tree and sent off a message to the tree owner. The response I got was: 'OMG, it is my grandfather's medal. I am so excited'. That makes all the effort worth it.

I've now connected Evelyn and Arthur's granddaughter, Gaye. The medal will soon join the rest of the family medal in Gaye's possession.

The returned medal tally is now 2768.


26 June 2022

Assistance to the Victorian Police

This search started after I received an email from Detective Senior Constable B Gibson of the Victorian Police. The email described how the medals awarded to NX33899 Cyril Dempster and 3751542 William Maxwell Dempster had come into the possession of the police as well as several photos.   

Cyril enlisted on 17 June 1940 and was reported missing in Malaya on 1 April 1942. Cyril died while a POW at Sandakan

William Dempster, based on his medal entitlement, was a National Serviceman. From the information I found on public records I surmised that William was Cyril's nephew. By using the electoral rolls I narrowed down where William lived and found a family by the same name in the general location. I provided this information to Detective Senior Constable Gibson who has now arranged for the medal to be handed back to the family. 

The returned medal tally is now 2767.

Alfred McKay

The background of how this research commenced is explained in this story:

Lost Medals Australia: KIA at Gallipoli 

Another medal Pam and Graham asked me to return was awarded to 295 Alfred Hugh Bartley McKay, 17 Battalion, AIF.  I found Alfred on an Ancestry family tree and sent off a message. I've just been in contact with Alfred's great grand daughter and connected her with Pam and Graham. The medal will be sent to the family in the near future.

The returned medal tally is now 2760.

02 June 2022

Almost a WWI trio

This search started with an email from Donna from the Directorate of Honours and Awards. Recently, the 1914-15 Star and British War Medal awarded to 3195 DVR Henry 'Harry' George Lusher were handed in before being forwarded to me. 

Harry's service record is pretty interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Harry applied for the Anzac Medallion in 1967, so where is that now? Secondly, under the stamp denoting the Victory Medal, is another stamp stating the medal was returned in 1923. 

I didn't find much about Harry following the information of his war service other than him on a few Ancestry family trees. I contacted one owner, Kym, who is Harry's great niece. I'll soon post Harry's medals to Kym and information about how to apply for the Victory Medal.

Thank you Donna, it is always a pleasure to help out the Directorate of Honours and Awards. The returned medal tally is now 2759

01 June 2022

Australian Service Medal

It isn’t to often I receive contemporary medals. This Australian Service Medal with clasp Kuwait arrived in mail yesterday. It was sent to me by Jackson S who found the medal and wanted to see it returned to the veteran. 

This medal really interests me as it was one of the first occasions the ASM was awarded. The ASM was instituted in 1988 and the Kuwait clasp was awarded for service in 1990-91. The earlier examples had different naming styles between the Services. This version has the name first followed by the service number. Also, the engraving has a shadow effect. The naming is now done using a laser. 

The medal will soon be sent back to Damian we served in the RAN. Thanks to Jackson for sending the medal to me. The returned medal tally is now 2757. 

31 May 2022

WW2 Coldstream Guards medals

After the recent story about helping out the WA Police, I received a message from another staff member, Ed, who had a set of WW2 medals awarded to a solider from the Coldstream Guards. 

The soldier was Harry Harold Ealden. After service in WW2, Harry emigrated to Australia and died in 1990. The medals were left with Ed’s father who was President of the WA Guards Association. Ed’s father was a former Irish Guardsman.

Usually, WW2 medals awarded to British soldiers are difficult to research as they were issued unnamed. However, in this case the medals had Harry’s details on them. 

I found Harry’s great niece, Kate, via Ancestry and she has now been connected with Ed. 

Thanks Kate for the picture of Harry and thanks Ed for the research challenge. 

The returned medal tally is now 2756.

30 May 2022

FTG Ford

There is not a lot to this story due to the limited amount of public records available from South Australia. I do know that SX40000 Frederick Thomas George Ford was born in 1924 and died on 24 November 1990. I couldn't find any evidence that he married but I did find him on an Ancestry family tree. The tree belongs to his nephew Len, a retired soldier. 

These medals came out of the RSL Care SA bag. The returned medal tally is now 2752.

Assistance to the SA Police

This is a week for helping out a couple for state police forces. This time the SA Police. 

There really isn't lot to tell about this return other that three contemporary medals were handed in and I was able to determine the serviceman was a member of the Royal Australian Navy. I put the police in contact with the the veteran and the medal will be returned.

The medals were the Australian Active Service Medal, The Afghanistan Medal and the Australian Defence Medal. Also with the group was the sailor's Returned from Active Service Badge. 

The returned medal tally is now 2748.

Assistance to the WA Police

This search started with a message from my research friend Sandra. The WA Police had posted a request to find the family of 3264 Arthur Vivian Smith so that his WWI Victory Medal could be returned to his family.

Arthur's service history is rather interesting as he originally enlisted into the 28th Battalion, AIF before transferring to the 1st ANZAC Cyclist Battalion. As part of my research of Arthur, I looked at his entry in the electoral rolls. As it turned out he was on the same page as my grandparents who also had the surname of Smith. 

I could not find any evidence that Arthur married or had children but I did find him on a tree which it turns out is owned by his great nephew. John has now been in touch with Tony from the WA Police and the medal has been retuned.

The returned medal tally is now 2744.

11 May 2022

Medal returned live on radio

Not long after Anzac Day I received an email from Emelie, a producer for the 2GB Drive show with Jim Wilson. Jim had been contacted by a listener who had a WWII Pacific Star that was found amongst her possessions but did not belong to her family. The listener, Carol, was hopeful that the 2GB audience could help find the family of NX29664 Sapper Bernard O'Reilly

Emelie also put a post on social media which my mate Grahame M saw and passed my details to Emelie. It took a couple of hours to work out that Bernard died in 1979. He had a son, also named Bernard, but know as Bernie, but he died in 2019.

Bernie's death notice gave me the contact details for the funeral director which I provided to Emelie and from there things moved pretty fast.

Yesterday Bernard's Pacific Star was handed back to his family live on air:

'You're going home!': Emotional in-studio moment as lost WWII medal is reunited with family - 2GB - Sydney's premier news and talk radio station

It was great working with Emelie on this return. Thanks to Grahame for the referral which got this all rolling.
The returned medal tally is no 2743.

Contemporary medals returned

This return is quite unusual as I don't see that many contemporary medals that become lost. These medals were found at a charity shop then sent to the Directorate of Honours and Awards. I have a great relationship with the Honours and Awards staff and try to help them as much as possible. 

It took me a bit of time to work out how to contact Bob whose was awarded these medal but luckily he responded to a message I sent him. Bob told me he was also awarded two other medals in addition to the AASM, the Afghanistan Medal and the ADM. It is a bit of a mystery why they aren't all together. 

The retuned medal tally is now 2742.

24 April 2022

George Michie - WWI pair

This return has been several years in the making. Each time I've had a look at this soldier a little bit more information became available and yesterday it all came together.

My part in the search for the family of 909 George Leslie Michie started following an email from Mike V who came across the WWI medals awarded to George in a collection of coins he had. Mike did a considerable amount of research on George then enlisted my assistance to track down George's family. 

George was a 34 year old civil servant when he enlisted in 1916 and allocated to 55th Battalion, AIF. I think that his obituary summarises his war experience far better than a retelling of his service record.

While I could find details of George's immediate family, it was difficult to pin down the current generation and find their contact details. As we approach Anzac Day 2022, Mike spurred me on to have another look and sure enough, some recent information posted online led me to the final piece of the puzzle. After sending out a couple of speculative social media messages, I was in contact with George's granddaughter. This is Robyn and she is now in contact with Mike. Persistence pays off.

The returned medal tally is now 2739.        

23 April 2022

Harry Wallis

It is very satisfying to finalise a search just prior to Anzac Day. These WWI medals, awarded to 2258 Harry Edmund Wallis, are more to come out of the RSL Care SA bag. 

Harry was a 19 year old tailor from Adelaide when he enlisted in May 1915.  He was allocated to 11 Battalion, AIF. Harry's service record gives a lot of details about being hospitalised on multiple occasions but not much other details about his war service. He was wounded in action in 1918.

There are two details in his service record which I found interesting. Harry was also entitled to the 1914-15 Star. Also, in 1970, while a resident of the War Veterans Home, now RSL Care SA, Harry applied for the Anzac Medallion. Neither the star or medallion are with the other two medals which prompts me to wonder where they are now. 

Harry did marry, however there is no evidence he had children. Harry died in 1976. I'll be sending these two medals to a relative of Harry's with the intention that these medals will be displayed for others to see.

The returned medal tally is now 2737.


09 April 2022

Medals to two generations of the same family

These are three more medal that came to me from RSL Care SA. I was a little bit confused at the start of this research, despite the surname on all the medals are the same the initials are different. My confusion was trying to make the connection between the two individuals.

The oldest medal is the Imperial Service Medal (1st type) named to JJ Gould. The other two medals are the 1914-15 Star and the Victory Medal awarded to Lieutenant R E Gould, RFA. I enlisted the help of the experts on the British Medal Forum who assisted me to correctly identify the ISM and who it was awarded to. The recipient of the ISM was Joseph James Gould. This is the London Gazette entry for the award of this medal.

Additional clarifying information  provided to me was:
'Of the 1906 awards [ISM] in 1906, 40 went to people working in various departments of the War Office, including the Royal Arsenal and of these 39 were to men and one to a woman. It is most likely the he had completed, at least, 25 years service in, or around 1906, and it is likely to be a retirement award, hence his age about 65.'

The two WWI medals were awarded to LT Ralph Edmond Gould RFA .

Having all the names was the key which led to the current generation. Via an Ancestry family tree I've been in contact with the great great grandson of Ralph and 4 x great grandson of Joseph. Timing is everything and this family will be in Canberra next week and I'll be able to hand them the medals.

Thank you so much to Andrew, Damon and Radal from the BMF whose knowledge and skills significantly assisted this research. The returned medal tally is now 2735.

23 March 2022

World War Two and Korean War medal group

This group of eight medals awarded to 21419 Jack Sydney Cowling, RAN came to me from the NSW RSL. Prior to that, Sofie from WA with the help of the Mandurah RSL sub-branch, had forwarded the medals to the NSW RSL. 

There was something niggling in the back of my mind about this name so I did a search of my research notes and found this email:

'Some years ago there was a burglary at my Melbourne home, and my father's service medals were stolen (amongst many other items). He was a Chief Engine Room Artificer in the RAN, #21419, serving from 1937 (perhaps 1936) until after Korea. He served on HMAS Hobart from the time it was transferred to the RAN in the UK until after the Tokyo Bay surrender, then at various shore stations, and then HMAS Sydney (the aircraft carrier) in Korea. Hence he received  a number of Service Medals, including Africa Star, Burma and Pacific, United Nations, Long Service and Good Conduct as well as Defence and some others. They have his service number inscribed on the rim. I guess I have given up hope of seeing them again but to-day I became aware of your organisation, and thought I would contact you to see if you can assist or suggest avenues I might pursue in trying to locate them.'

This email was sent to me in 2014 by Jack's son Sid. 

Jack joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1937 as an Engine Room Artificer. At the time he probably didn't realise that the majority of his career would be spent at war. This link is to the synopsis of his WWII service. He later went on to serve in the Korean War as described in this link. While it is hard to read, this is Jack's service card. It looks like Jack spent the entire period of WWII on HMAS Hobart (I). He was aboard HMAS Sydney (III) during the Korean War. 

Jack discharged from the Royal Australian Navy in 1954. He and his wife settled in Melbourne before he died in 1967. 

Jack's service record indicates that he was also awarded a long service and good conduct medal but that is not included in this group. The style of naming is exactly what I would expect for medals issued by the Royal Australian Navy. The font is different to those issued by the Army and the impressing is more pronounced.  

Thanks to Sofie who initiated the chain of events which ended up closing the loop with Sid. Thanks also to Ivan and Tracey from NSW RSL. Jack's stolen medals will soon be returned to his son. 

The returned medal tally is now 2732.

20 March 2022

Sid Spence

No medals are being returned on this occasion, rather, three personal items which I have no doubt were precious to SX1770 Sydney Stewart Spence. The collection includes Sid's dog tags, his pocket watch and a pocket book of bush ballads. 

The inscription inside the front cover of the book is very touching. It says - S.S.S 4.5.40 So you wont forget "the outback".

My research led me to believe that Sid didn't have any children. This was confirmed when I contacted Sid's great niece yesterday. This is Kay who tells me that she remembers Sid well from childhood holidays. 

Sid died in 1990 while he was a resident of RSL Care SA. When Nathan from RSL Care SA handed me the bag of medals last month, it was Sid's watch which he pulled out as an example of the type of items he was keen to see returned to families. And Sid's watch is still working.


17 March 2022

KIA at Gallipoli

It is highly likely that 1769 Sydney Victor Jones lied about his age when he enlisted 8 January 1915. He gave his age as 19 but it is more likely he only turned 18 when he was killed in action at Gallipoli on 10 June 1915. 

Sydney was a member of 2nd Battalion, AIF and at Gallipoli at the same time as his brothers Harold and Arthur. They were member's of 13th Battalion, AIF. 1915 was a tragic year for this family; Arthur was WIA in May and Harold in August. Their father, Evan, died in a horse gig accident towards the end of 1915. 

Sydney was originally buried at Brown's Dip and later moved to Lone Pine Cemetery. The correspondence between Sydney's mother and the Army about the epitaph on this headstone is in Sydney's service record. One letter very tactfully explains there was a 66 character limit (including spaces) allowed on headstones and what the Army suggested might be left out to meet this limit.

This research started from an unusual source. I was contacted late last year by Graham whose wife, Pam, ran a successful medal mounting business for many years. Now in retirement, Pam has a few medals that were left with her and never collected. In this case the medal was Sydney's British War Medal. I've connected Graham and Pam with Tony who is Sydney's great nephew. In one of those 'it is a small world' moments, Tony is a good friend of my cousin Stephen.  

The returned medal tally is now 2724.

16 March 2022

AB Couch

37856 Gunner Arthur Barry Couch was 27 years old when he enlisted in 1917. He was allocated to Artillery. This photo is a group portrait of the 37th Battery, Australian Field Artillery taken outside the Chateau at Cocquerrel, France, on 14 June 1918. I've marked Arthur. 

Even though he married, Arthur did not have any children. I've found his great niece who I'll return this medal to. Arthur's nephew was QX17723 Roy James Couch who was capture on Ambon as part of Sparrow Force. In 1999 I commemorated Anzac Day at the Ambon Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. Following the service the Indonesian military took us the location of the fiercest fighting and to where most of Sparrow Force were captured.

Arthur's medal was sent to me by Jill who found it in the garden of her house. When I checked the electoral roll I found that Arthur had lived at the same address as where Jill found the medal for many years before he died in 1967. The medal looks exactly how I would expect after being in the dirt.

The returned medal tally is now 2723.

15 March 2022

FS Harding

The service record of 1151 Frank Stanley Harding shows that Frank had a reasonably straight forward period of service between March 1915 and August 1919. Page 19 of the service record is a synopsis of his war years with one entry that sticks out; he went AWOL in Cairo. Having read many other records, I think Frank could have got in a lot more trouble than other soldiers. For being AWOL, he was awarded 7 days field punishment number 2 and 10 days loss of pay. Frank was a signaller and served in 2nd Division and 4th Division Signal Company. 

This collection is rather interesting. Frank was awarded the WWI trio but I only received the British War Medal. Included, is the Anzac Gallipoli Medallion and lapel pin. The really interesting bit is that Frank's letter to the Department of Defence applying for this medallion is also in the service record.

I didn't find much information about Frank's other than his headstone and his name on an Ancestry family tree. I fired of a message to the tree owner and today I received a reply from Frank's great granddaughter. This is Mandy and I'll send her this collection later this week.

These are, of course, more items from the RSL Care SA bag. The returned medal tally is now 2722.