16 June 2021

Helping out the Victorian Police

It is always great to help out the police. This return followed a request from the Victorian Police to locate the family of NX166801 George Edward Smith. The police had recovered four WWII medals awarded to George.

There is not a lot to this story other than to say that the search was successful and the medals will soon be returned to George's grandson.

The returned medal tally is now 2636.

13 June 2021

Helping out two different state Police forces

Over the last week I've been lucky enough to be able to help out the Queensland Police Service and the Victorian Police with two searches.

The first search was for the family of 14553 John Leslie Chesher who served in the RAAF during WWII. John's dog tags had been handed in and Kylie T from the Palm Beach Police Station asked for assistance. John led a pretty quiet life and there wasn't many public records available. I did found another name at the same address John was living at in San Souci, NSW in the 1970s. I provided this to Kylie who was able to use resources available to her to narrow down this name to an individual who turned out to be John's nephew.

The second search was for the recipient of an Australian Defence Medal which had been handed in to Leading Senior Constable Lara M at the Sunshine Police Station in Victoria. Similarly to the other search, just by providing the full name to Lara she was able to locate the owner.

It has been a real pleasure helping out both Kylie and Lara and the respective state police force.  

The returned medal tally is now 2632.

10 June 2021

WG Parker

I recently received a parcel from the Directorate of Honours and Awards which contained three medals all awarded to separate servicemen and each with interesting stories.

The first story is of a 1914-15 Star awarded to ON4138 Ord Sig William Gromalle Parker. William was a member of the Royal Australian Navy Reserve and I was a little surprised that his period of service ended in early 1915. It made sense when I found an AIF service record for him. The front page states that William has three years service in the RANR and that he is 'still serving'. William became 1130 Private WG Parker and allocated to the 30th Battalion. William was wounded in action in France and was eventually discharged in 1917.

After WWI, William became a hair dresser and had a large family. One of his sons was Eric Stuart Parker and it is Eric's son Steve who I have contacted. Steve tells me that in the not to distant future there will be a family reunion and he is sure that this medal will create quite a bit of interest. 

The returned medal tally is now 2632. 


06 June 2021

LV James DSC update

My friend Frev has done a lot more research about Lawrence and Simmie and added the details to the Discovering Anzacs website.

AC Coffey

Medals turn up in the places where there is often no logical explanation as to why is should be there. When Susan L contacted me about a medal she found in Goulburn, and there was no family I could immediately identify in the area, I set aside why the medal was found about 70km north of where I live. 

VX14581 Alexander Charles Coffey was born in Maitland, SA which is on the Yorke Peninsula to the West of Adelaide. His life was a little confusing and finding a relative, despite a large family, was a little difficult. Alexander, sometimes referred to as Alex and at other times Alick, enlisted in March 1940. In 1942, while in Brisbane, he married Phyllis. The trail of Phyllis Coffey ran out not long after the war, although she was still in Brisbane after WWII when Alex was was living elsewhere. I had to assume they divorced. There is no evidence they had any children. I found Alex in 1953 living with a new wife, Audrey. They were living in Goulburn which explained that part of the mystery. However, by 1956 both Alex and Audrey were dead. Once again, they don't appear to have had any children. 

One of Alex's brothers, Patrick, was a licensee of two hotels in Goulburn so there is a definite link to that town but the lead ran out when I found that his brother and his wife also died in the 1950s. Having hit one brick wall after another, I refocused the research on South Australia. The clues that led to success was Alex's father's name, John and that he was from Kadina, SA. Almost immediately, I found the headstone for John and Flora Coffey.

Knowing these two name narrowed the search and I soon found a tree which included John and Flora. I've now been in touch with Jess whose father in law is Alex great nephew. 

I'll be sending Alex's Defence Medal off to South Australia in the near future. The returned medal tally is now 2631.  



02 June 2021

LV James, DSC

Some stories really draw me in as I get to know families through the research to find out about a medal I have. That is definitely the case in the search for the family of Lawrence Vernon James. 

The medal was sent to me by Nicky and Eian M who found the medal under the following circumstances:

'There is sure to be a story attached to this medal because it is a complete mystery how it came to be just sitting on the top of the garden bed when I have not only gardened in this area for years, but we frequently walked past it whenever we go to the back shed'

It took me a bit of time to work out exactly who I was looking for as some records had the name spelt as Lawrence and others as Lawrance. Indeed, this misspelling caused me some concern as well as providing me a bit of medal education. When I first received the medal it was very apparent to me that the medal had been altered slightly. The rim near the naming is thiner than it should be as is width of the medal at the same point. While not easy to see it is very noticeable to the touch. In most cases I would suspect that this medal was renamed to some one other than the original recipient. However, the naming looked to be official and not poorly done as I've usually seen on medals that have been renamed. I checked with the members of the British Medals Forum who are far more knowledgeable than I am on this type of thing. I found that the naming was consistent with a medal issued by the Admiralty, that it was not unusual for a medal that had an incorrectly name to be returned so that a correction could be made and that the naming indicated someone who served in the Merchant Navy. Based on this information, I am of the opinion that Lawrence's first name was misspelt with an 'a' rather than an 'e' and he returned the medal to be corrected. Once I knew all this I was able to narrow down exactly who I was looking for.

With the confirmation of Lawrence's correct name and occupation I found his date of birth, 1880, and when he received his Master's certificate. Then came the surprise, Lawrence was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross at the Dardanelles (Gallipoli) for his skillful handling of his ship.

There was only a few references to Lawrence in the public records after WWI. Mostly these related to ship movements or court cases that involved member's of the crew on ship captained by Lawrence. The vital clue was a record of Lawrence's marriage to Eleanor Rose Simpson. Then the search got really interesting.

Eleanor was Staff Nurse (later Sister) Simpson who served in the Australian Army Nursing Service during WWI. Eleanor's record shows that she had to resign in 1917 when she married. Before this she had nursed those who were wounded or evacuated sick from Gallipoli.

I'm not exactly sure when Eleanor returned to Australia to live but I did find the emigration record for their son Peter Vernon James. Peter served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Reserve during WWII. In 1950 he emigrated with his wife, three daughters and his sister. 

This gave me multiple clues to follow up. What I found was that Peter married Dorothy after she had divorced, it didn't appear that his sister Patricia married and the names of his step daughters to compare to the BDM records. 

I tried to follow Peter but other than a few electoral roll entries all the clues ran out in 1997 when he died. His death notice didn't provide many clues of value but the epitah with reference to his time at sea is touching.

From the NSW BDM, I established that Rosalyn Ethel married Ronald Freeman. From the electoral rolls I could easily follow Rosalyn, Ronald and their family as they moved on several occasions. The leads ran cold from the 1980s so I had to go back to the records I could confirm some facts on several occasions. Then something rang a bell of familirarity. On the back of the envelope that Nicky sent me the medal in was a street name in St Ives, NSW. I checked the exact address with her and this is what was familar. Rosalyn and Ronald had lived at the same address in 1954. It appears that the several blocks were owned by Ronald's family and used as an orchard before being developed for housing. It appears that the medal has been there for all the time but it is a mystry as to why it would appear now.

Finding one of Lawrence's decendent's proved difficult so I looked at Peter's wife, Dorothy. I soon found her on an Ancesry tree that is owned by Dorothy's nephew. This is Martin who was able to very quickly put me in touch with his first cousin, Peta. I know this name from the emigration record where Peta is listed as 5 months old in 1950.  

Peta and I are now in contact and she is so proud of the family's heoric service. It is such a pleasure to be able to return this medal to Peta.    

Thank you to Nicky and Eian. The retruned medal tally is now 2630.

31 May 2021

RT Tragardh

Having a distinctive surname has its advantages and this search has definitely benefited from that. I received the Australian Service Medal 1939-45 last week from Ross G who found the medal amongst his father's medals. The medal was awarded to VX85608 Ronald Thackeray Tragardh. His brother also served in WWII, he was VX68469 Charles Thackeray Tragardh

I found Charles' death notice which gave me the names of all of Roland's children. From there is was a process of elimination to find the contact details of the one of the children and this led me to Ron's son, Ian. As it turns out this is a family who has volunteered to serve their nation across the generations as Ian's son was also an Australian soldier until recently. 

Thanks to Ross who sent me the medal. The returned medal tally is now 2629.

30 May 2021

Mobbs family medals

When I received an email from Senior Constable Bell from the Queensland Police Service I was somewhat confused about the medal groups and the names. It took a bit to work out I was looking at the a father and son. 

The first is 53546 Allan George Mobbs. The second is 2900538 Allan George Mobbs. Allan Snr enlisted late in 1917 as a 20 year old and was able to enlist again for WWII. The next round of confusion was that Allan Jnr had three service numbers. The number commencing with the digit 2 indicated that Allan Jnr served after WWII. This turned out to be part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan.

I eventually narrowed the family connections and was able to provide Senior Constable Bell the name of a member of the current generation. The medals will soon be returned to the family. 

There wasn't much information available about Allan Snr or Jnr. I did know from the electoral rolls that Snr was an orchardist. This information led me to a very interesting news article. I'm sure that most Australian readers will know the name Tilly Devine. Tilly was notorious Sydney criminal and poor out of town orchardist Allan had a run in with her in 1922.

 The returned medal tally is now 2628. 

29 May 2021

Contemporary Australian medals

I didn't have to put in much effort to find the owner of these three medals. The real effort was made by Roxanne S who told me that she works in a library in regional NSW. A person came in to her library with three medals which were believed to be stolen. Roxanne got my details from the NSW RSL but the person with the medals wasn't keen to take the matter further. Roxanne then took it upon herself to contact me and send on the medals.   

What I received was an Australian Active Service Medal, Afghanistan Medal and NATO Medal. Based on the service details I was able to track down the owner who tells me that these medals as well as other valuable items were recently stolen. There is still a missin Australian Defence Medal out there some where.

Well done Roxanne The returned medal tally is now 2618.

24 May 2021

Alfred Freeman

This is the second pair of WWI medals sent to me by Sarah. The first pair were awarded to 2nd AM FH Hill. This pair was awarded to 53016 Alfred George Freeman. The story of Alfred's medals is a bit difficult to follow and I'm not sure when this pair was issued.

Alfred's number is not part of the regimental numbering system where each regiment or unit started at number 1. If a person moved from one unit to another they kept their number and added a letter to the end. However, Alfred enlisted in early 1918 and was a general reinforcement from Queensland rather than recruited direct to a specific unit. From his service record, Alfred looks to have spent time in 41st and 42nd Battalions before being reallocated to the Graves Registrations Detachment

For some reason it appears that Alfred didn't receive his medals in the mid 1920 as was normal so in 1927 the RSL wrote to the Army on Alfred's behalf. There is a note on the correspondence to say that the BWM and Victory Medal were in store. On the final page of the service record it indicates that the medal were sent. However, in 1971 the RSL wrote again on Alfred's behalf stating that he had never been issued his medals with the notation: 'Issue'. I suspect that two sets have been issued and this is the 1971 issue. The numbering if very cleanly impressed and the naming on each medal is opposite. That is, the BWM naming is the correct way up when looking at the obverse but when looking at the obverse of the Victory medal the naming is upside down. This isn't uncommon but just suggestive of a later issue.  

As far as I can establish, Alfred didn't marry or have children. I've located a great niece of Alfred's and will send her his medals later this week. 

Thanks again to Sarah. The returned medal tally is now 2615.

16 May 2021

Frederick Hill

Over the years we have been returning medals, there has only been two occasions when medals named to a member of the Australian Flying Corps have come our way. Bill has had one success and I had the other. Medals impressed with AFC are less common than those to other corps since the AFC was relatively small and if the soldier transferred in from another corps then the original unit or corps will be on the medal.

This pair was awarded to 2511 2nd Aircraft Mechanic Frederick Francis Hill. Frederick was a 23 year old carpenter from Rockhampton, Queensland. He was enlisted direct in to the AFC in Special Draft number 1. Following WWI, Francis returned to Rockhampton and raised a family. At some point his medals left the family and came in to the possession of a Vietnam War veteran. His daughter Sarah came across them and sent them my way.

From what I could work out, most of Frederick's children left Rockhampton and had their own families. His daughter Mavis settled in Melbourne, it is one of her sons that I've been in contact with and will send the medal to in the near future.

Thanks to Sarah for sending these medals to me. The returned medal tally is now 2613.

25 April 2021

Claude Hogarth

 This search was referred to me from several sources. Thank you to my network. 

John C had posted the following on line:

“ I would like to return this WW1 RETURNED FROM ACTIVE SERVICE BADGE to the family of C HOGARTH - it may have been found in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney by my late father himself a WW2 Vet”

These are the pictures of the RAS badge. 

Based on John’s description of where the badge was found and the other information available on line, I narrowed it down to the only person who fit the bill. This was 7716 Claude Horatio Hogarth. His service record can be found here: https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=4760965

Not long after working out who Claude was I found a direct descendant on Ancestry. Within 5 minutes of sending a message to the family I was able to connect John and Kerryn from the Hogarth family.

A nice result just before Anzac Day. The returned medal tally is now 2611. 

18 April 2021

Australian Active Service Medal

It never amazes me what just turns up in the mail. Last week I received an Australian Active Service Medal. Included in the presentation case was the Iraq 2003 clasp, miniature and Returned from Active Service Badge

The recipient wasn't aware this medal was missing so it is nice to get it back to him. Thanks to some well refined search techniques it took me less than one minute to locate the owner. 

The returned medal tally is now 2610.  

10 April 2021

Leonard Seymour

This search had an outcome that I wasn't expecting when I started researching NX155505 Leonard Edward Seymour about 12 months ago. 

The 1939-45 Star and Pacific Star awarded awarded to Leonard were sent to me by Sue M last April and since then each lead I had ran cold. Indeed, Leonard proved very elusive to track down. I now know that he distanced himself from his family and there is very little public information about him. All I had to work with was the name of his WWII NOK. This was his mother Nellie. From this I used the NSW BDM to find the names of all his siblings and his father, Leonard snr. I also found a couple other people with exactly the same name living in NSW. This made tracking the Leonard I was after through the electoral rolls very difficult. Leonard may have married in 1950 but there were no children and he may have died in 2004 but I couldn't be 100% certain.

When all the other leads dried up I went back to the NSW BDM and found two marriages for Leonard snr. The first to Nellie in 1921 and the second to Esther in 1967. This was the key to success. I used the combination off all the information I knew to be correct to find Leonard snr's death notice. I've added this below. What this gave me was the names of the other children and their partners. Leonard jnr is named on his own.

I then looked at family tress of the other children and followed Florence who married Alex Archer. They had several children and this is where I found the unexpected. One of Florence's sons was 2788583 Private Gary Alex Archer. Gary was a member of 9 RAR and served in the Vietnam War. On 4 Feb 69, Gary died of injuries he received in an accident at Nui Dat. Originally buried in Terendak cemetery,  Malaysia, Gary's remains were amongst those which were repatriated to Australia in June 2016.

I've now been in touch with Leonard jnr's nephew and his family. I think that a few missing pieces about the family might now be filled in. I also know that the family have great pride in their military history and that Leonard's WWI service will now take a place in the family history story.

Thank you to Sue for sending me the medals. The returned medal tally is now 2609.

14 March 2021

Allan Brown

This search came to me by a circuitous route which included contacts at the Army and Air Force History units and the Directorate of Honours and Awards.

The original request for assistance came from Queensland Police Sergeant David H who had recovered two WWII medals awarded to NX127488 Allan Owen Brown. What I was able to provide David was that Allen died in 1984, his wife Mary died in 2004. They had one son whose name is William. In the late 1970s they were living in Bexley NSW. I wondered if William had moved to QLD so I provided David with his full name. This turned out to be the case and David found William on his own database. AS it turned out the medals were stolen a year or so ago.

Thanks to Tim at AHU and Jo at Honours and Awards for the referral.

The returned medal tally is now 2607.

27 February 2021

George Henry Dawe

This is a really interesting story which threw up several surprises along the way. 

My part started recently when my colleague Nick B showed me a WWI pair of medal awarded to 4481 CPL George Henry Dawe. George was originally allocated to 5th Battalion, then reallocated to 46th Battalion before ending up in 4th Division HQ. Nick had already established that George was mentioned in dispatches and here is a citation.

George was 32 when he enlisted and his father was his next of kin. This made me wonder if he ever married. I'll come back to that because the first post war information I found about George was when he gave evidence against a Victorian MRH.

One other article about this case mentioned that George was an actor which led to a whole lot of new search parameters and results. This time I found two articles in The Bulletin about George. The first about being an actor in London before WWI.

The second is about his death in 1924 aged 44. It also confirmed that he did marry.

George's widow was Eleanor, better known as Lala. They had married in 1921. Lala's first husband was KIA during WWI. This information led me to George's grave. George's family were monumental masons which might explain the grandeur of the family headstone. George also worked as a monumental mason when acting jobs were scarce.

Knowing that George didn't have a direct descendant led me to look at his wider family. Other names on the grave gave me the information that I needed. George's brother Frederick also served in WWI with 2nd Field Company Engineers. The family line I was able to follow was through Fred's eldest daughter and onto her oldest son. This is Bob G who is George's great nephew.

I've now connected Nick and Bob and will post photos of the medals in the near future. The returned medal tally is now 2605.



18 February 2021

John Cadger

This is another search that I've revisited many times over the years. Every now and then there has been a snippet of information that finally led to me being able to return this medal to the family. There is very little to tell about John Cadger other than he was in the 7th Battalion of the Scottish Rifles. I took many hours of research time to get almost nowhere. Having it finalised is very satisfying.

Thanks to Liz J who sent John's medals to me and to Sue P who put the final piece in place. The returned medal tally is now 2603.

Henry Payne

This return has been 13 years in the making and finalised on the barest of information. 

I received the 1914-15 Star awarded to SS-17784 Henry Payne in 2007 and it took several revisits to the records to draw everything together. Henry was a soldier in the British Army Service Corps and it was considerably lucky that his pension record is available on line. Henry was discharged from the Army in 1916 due to being medically unfit. I was a bit surprised by this until I worked out that Henry was born in 1867 making him 47 when he enlisted. In 1911 Henry was living with his 88 year old widowed mother and four siblings so I made an assumption that he didn't marry or have children. 

I found Henry in an Ancestry family tree and sent a message to the tree owner. Overnight received I received a reply from the tree owned who is the great grand daughter of Henry's sister Ellen.

Thank you to Glenda R who sent me the medal via Charlie E.

The returned medal tally is now 2601.

I forgot to take a picture of the reverse f the medal. An update will come soon.

17 February 2021

Francis Nunn

Other than the WWII DVA nominal roll entry for WX10318 Francis Herbert Nunn, I found no other Australian records for this soldier. This was a very frustrating search that commenced in 2013. I was only thanks to snippets of information that appeared on genealogy website over several years that helped me piece together Francis' family tree. After Francis discharge in 1944 I found no more information about his.

What I did know was when and where Francis was born. His place of birth was Steeple Bumpstead, Essex, UK. His siblings were William, Gladys and Eric. This information led me to Ben who is the great great  grandson of Francis' sister Gladys. Francis was the only member of his family who emigrated to Australia so these medals will be sent to England where his family remained.

Thanks to Garry G who sent me these medals in 2013. The returned medal tally is now 2600.


06 February 2021

William Watkin

When I first received information about this medal from Ivan of the NSW RSL I was confused by the naming: J.85452 (DEV.B.10850) W. WATKIN. SIG. RFR. I hadn't seen the medal at this point and even though I suspected that the 'J' at the beginning of the service number meant Royal Navy, the inclusion of RFR made me wonder if this was a Royal Fusiliers medal. 

Ancestry gave me no clues but the UK National Archives confirmed that W Watkin was William Watkin who served in both WWI and WWII in the Royal Fleet Reserve. Now RFR made sense. Knowing the full name opened the flood gates of information. William was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 1901. He married Ida Etchells and died, also in Sheffield, in 1992. William and Ida has two sons: John 'Jack' Watkin and William 'Bill' Watkin.  

In 1948 Bill emigrated to Australia. On the ship he met Bridget Gannon and they married in 1949. Bill worked as a bricklayer and lived in Mt Pleasant, Western Australia. The 1977 electoral roll gave me the name of Bill and Bridget's daughter. Bill died in Fremantle as did Bridget, however, I was surprised to see that Bridget was cremated in North Ryde, NSW. That might have explained how the medal was found in Redfern by the NSW Police. 

When the medal arrived I recogised it as the Reserve Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. The ribbon, as seen in the pictures, represents the Royal Fleet Reserve. 

Once I had all the information I found a Watkin family tree on Ancestry. The tree owner kindly provided me with Bill's daughter's contact details. Now all that remains to to send William Watkin's medal to his granddaughter.

Thanks to Ivan for sending me the medal and John W for his assistance in this search. The returned medal tally is now 2596.