26 February 2017

Donald Rankine

Bill's latest success.
Regular followers of our blog will by now be used to the variety of stories that we tell and the routes we follow to return medals to families.
The story of SX12221 Staff Sergeant Donald Lloyd Rankine and the return of his medals is one such route. A path that had more right and left turns than a street directory. However, to protect the privacy of those involved much of the research has been omitted.
The background to the medals was their discovery in a box along with other sets of medals that the now deceased owner of the box had been trying to return. “It was his hobby” was the comment I received when I started asking questions, including the three most important. “Do you know how he got them, and from where?” and “….how long has he had them?”
“Er, yes” then “Er, no actually” was the answer. So the search began with three important elements missing. From whom and where had they come from and when.
Unfortunately, War Graves had no details of any family deaths, so it became a protracted search through those South Australian cemeteries that are on line. The link that finally took me to the family graves was Donald’s fathers fore names, George Lourdon.
From cemetery records it appears that Donald died in 1970 and his brother, George in 2000. From follow on research I found that neither had married.
So the search then stepped back a generation to their parents and their siblings. It has not been an easy search, but then again as Glyn will tell you few are. While the Internet has opened up vast fields of information, privacy legislation has closed off the critical part.
To Chris, that picked up the challenge deciding that the medals should not be relegated to a drawer. To Carmen who has accepted the responsibility of caring for Donald’s medals. From one ex-service man on behalf of another ex-serviceman. Thank you.

The returned medal tally is now 2022.

More assistance to the Victorian Police Force

One of the difficulties that medal collectors face when researching British issued WWII medals is that they were not named. That makes attributing a group to an individual almost impossible. When we receive groups like this it is impossible to determine the veteran or their family. Following WWII the British went back to the practice of naming medal so every now and then we get a lucky break and a British WWII medal group will have a later issued medal named medal. That is how Bill managed to solve this case of a group of five WWII RAF medals. Unfortunately, due to the circumstance we can’t provide many details.

Alex’s medals are home.
Under normal circumstance Alex’s medals, stolen from his sister’s home along with their presentation case, where they held pride of place along with other mementos, would have presented an impossible task. But it was Alex’s service after WW2, when the British defence forces had gone back to inscribing their medals that gave us the lead, as unlike his WW2 medals, they were inscribed with his name and Service Number.
At the request of the Victoria Police I will not detail the steps taken to find Alex’s family. At the further at the request of his sister the custodian of the medals, we have refrained from including, the usual photograph/s that often accompanies our stories.
But to Jackie of the Victoria Police, whose perseverance brought us into the case, thank you and well done.

The returned medal tally is now 2017.

Ken Astill

The Australian Defence Medal awarded to NX109343 Kenneth Stanley Astill came to me from Ted Ayres who has sent me several medals over the years.
Ken served in an Anti Aircraft Battery during WWII and then had a long career in the New South Wales Police Force. I came across this article about Ken and other retired Police Officers receiving the National Police Service Medal.
Ken died in 2016 and through information about his funeral I was able to make contact with his daughter Julie. I'll send Julie her father's medal in the near future and thanks to Tod for his role in returning this medal.
The returned medal tally is now 2012.

12 February 2017

Walter Kirby

Bill and I have great relationships with the Police forces around Australia. This return was initiated when I received a message from Leading Senior Constable Dale Annesley (VICPOL). Dale told me the following story:

'This medal was found at the Forest Hill Shopping Centre and handed in in 2012. I have an interest in medals so conducted enquires to try and locate the owner. The medal was issued to Walter Edward Kirby dob:28/07/1903 QX16807, served with 3rd reserve motor transport company, was a prisoner of war Java, interned in Thailand. Was born in Gympie, enlisted in Toowoomba nok: Ivy Kirby, died August 1978.'

A quick check of the WWII nominal roll confirmed all the details so I moved to the Queensland BDM and found the names of all of Walter's siblings. From there I moved on to the electoral rolls. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Walter and his wife Ivy had any children. I did located the name of a nephew who is also listed in the White Pages. I passed all this to Dale who has also kindly provided a newspaper article about this medal.
The returned medal tally is now 2011. 
PS, don't tell Bill that this took me about 4 minutes to resolve. 

Alfred and Samuel Morey

Some stories are really complicated to tell due to family complexities, the passages of time or side stories that just seem to over take the medal and the soldier.
In this case it is probably better to start with what I know and then introduce a tangent.
I was recently sent a Queen's South Africa Medal awarded to 573 Troop Alfred Charles Morey who served with the Victorian Bushman. I also received the 1914-15 and British War Medal awarded to 3025 Samuel George Morey, 1 Divisional Ammunition Column, AIF. These came to me from Adrian F of South Coogee.
Unraveling the connection between Alfred and Samuel was a little confusing but I eventually confirmed they were brothers. All this research also led me to James Mathew Morey but more about him later.
A letter that Alfred sent to his mother from South Africa was published in the papers and makes for interesting reading. A copy of this letter is below. In the letter Alfred mentions his wife but I could not find any evidence that they had children.
Samuel was a different story. He was the father of many children, several of who served in WWI:
665 Gunner Percival Henry Morey.
91 SGT Walter Henry Morey who was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal.
11777 Gunner William Ormsby Morey who was Mentioned in Dispatches.
It was through Percival's line that I have been able to contact the current generation. Percival and his wife Olga had a number of children. Their eldest son was Dennis and it is his family who I'll send the medals to. Here are the pictures of Alfred and Samuel's medal and Alfred's letter. James' story is further down the page.
The returned medal tally is now 2010.

Now back to Alfred and Samuel's brother, James. 568 Trooper James Matthew also served in the Victorian Bushman. He was a police constable in Victoria but it is the story of James and the regimental mascot, 'Bushie', which really makes for interesting reading.

25 January 2017

Hugo Stach

This one of those different returns that come our way every now and then.
I was recently contacted by Rhett B who had come across a silver tray that was engraved with the name LT HF Stach. The tray had been presented to Hugo Frederick Stach for winning the 440yrd championship at the 14 Infantry Brigade sports carnival that was held in January 1919.
Rhett has asked me why this tray would have been presented and this is the reason. Following the Armistice in November 1918, sports carnivals were organised to fill in the time until transport ships could be arranged to return the troops to Australia. It is likely that this sports activity was held in England.
Hugo was pretty easy to find in the electoral rolls and in the Victorian BDM records. He was the son of Julius and Bridget Stach. The family name was actually Stach Von Goltzheim but it is not unsurprising that they dropped the Von Goltzhiem in 1914. Hugo died in 1929 having never married. I now know that Hugo was gassed during the war and never fully recovered. He had three siblings; Florence who died in 1964 also having not married; another sister, Elfrieda who married Arthur Bates and a brother Vincent who died of wounds on 26 April 1915 at Gallipoli.
This is a summary of several relatives of Hugo's who also served during WWI:
3158 Sergeant Arthur Ralph Kenney, 58th Bn, killed in action, 19 July 1916; 
3353 Pte William Harold Kenney, 6th Field Ambulance, died of wounds, 10 October 1915; 
3257 Pte Wilfred Rupert Stach, 5th Machine Gun Bn, returned to Australia, 12 November 1916; 
Lt Cyril St Michael Stanislaus Power, 60th Bn, returned to Australia, 21 July 1917; 
12381 Pte Edward Aloysius Power, 10th Field Ambulance, returned to Australia, 27 May 1919;

It is through Elfrieda and Arthur's family that the tray will soon be sent, specifically to Hugo's nephew Cecil. I am grateful to Lynne and Jennie, who is also related to Hugo, for assisting me put the pieces together.
The returned medal tally is now 2007.

Charles Gorringe

Some searches are destined to go smoothly, this is one of them. I hate to let Bill know that it took less that 7 minutes from start to finish.
It began this morning with a referral from the WA RSL. Arron S had come across the medal in a coin collection left to him by his father in 1979. There was no family connection to Arron so he contacted the WA RSL and then emailed me. The medal is a WWI British War Medal awarded to 277 Private Charles Gorringe who served with 10 ALH Regiment. Charles was 38 when he enlisted but had already served 12 years in the 10th Hussars, seeing active service in the Boer War. Enlistment date for Charles was 20 October 1914 making him one of the original members. Any one who has seen the movie Gallipoli will know that the AIF trained in Egypt prior to moving on to Gallipoli. It was during this time that the mounted infantry units were re-rolled as infantry and left their horses behind. 10 ALH Regiment arrive at Anzac Cove on 21 May 1915. One of the first action 10 ALH Regiment was involved in was at Walker's Ridge. At this location, on 16 June 1914, Charles received a shrapnel wound. I've searched the unit war diaries but there is no mention of his name. The war diaries notes that a Corporal was killed by an explosion on that date so Charles might have been wounded at the same time.His service record shows periods of hospitalisation for illness and then in 1916 he transferred to the 28th Battalion, AIF. He was further wounded twice while fighting in France as well as suffering outer illnesses. Charles was discharged in 1917 being medically unfit.
Charles and his wife Elizabeth had four children. One was Reginald William, his son is Harrison Reginald who I located in Perth. I've spoken to him today and his grand father's medal will soon be returned to the family.
Thank you Arron and Royceton.
The returned medal tally is now 2006.
 A young Harrison on his grand father's lap. Reginald is int the back ground.
 Harrison receiving Charles' medal from Arron.

Thank you Arron for providing these photos.

09 January 2017

Cecil Westwood MN

Cecil Thomas Westwood was born in Lincoln UK in 1917, the son of James and Edith (nee Broadbury) Westwood. During WWII Cecil served in the Merchant Navy. He later moved to New Zealand and continued his career as a marine engineer. He was married to Mairi Mackinnon but there is no evidence that they had any children. I've located a relative in NZ and will send them this collection shortly.
Cecil's miniature medals, his passport and several other persona items were found by the staff of the Townsville St Vincent de Paul's.
Thanks to Alicia for sending this collection to me.
The returned medal tally is now 2005.

08 January 2017

Ernest Davies - our 2000th return

The search was a reasonably complicated one which pivoted on one simple constant fact that I could follow through the both UK and Australian records.
6452 Ernest James Davies was a 33 year old single draper when he enlisted in 21st Battalion, AIF in 1916. Ernest saw service in France but he suffered from the conditions he encountered in the trenches.
Ernest was born in 1883 in Aberdare, Wales to James and Ann Davies. His parents names were in his service record so he was easy to find in the UK census records. He was one of 10 children. The problem I faced was working out which of the many men by this name was the right person living in Australia. This led me back to that one constant: Ernest was a draper.
I located the correct immigration record and found that Ernest, at the age of 30 in 1913, left the UK aboard the Orient Line ship "Otranto" for Melbourne. This helped me to narrow down the possible options in the Australian electoral rolls until I isolated the correct man based on his employment - a draper. Also at the same address was Gladys Davies who turned out to be Gladys Annie Ester Price who Ernest married in 1925 aged 42. There is no evidence that they had children so I had to go back and research Ernest's nine siblings.
One sister, Lena, married Arthur Jenkins and their son was Thomas James Jenkins. Thomas' daughter is Linda who married Neil Pxxxx. Their daughter is Sarah who I found is doctor in the UK. My only contact option was to call Sarah's practice, request their email address and hope an email would get through to her.I got far more in return than I could hope for. Sarah forwarded my email to Linda who has contacted me with some additional information which has filled in a few blanks that I had about the Davies/Jenkins connections. Linda is Ernest's great niece and I'll soon end the medal to her in the UK.
This search has been going on since June 2015 when I received Ernest's BWM from Max Howard of the Toodyay RSL. How the medal ended up in rural WA is a mystery I don't think will every be explained.
This might just be a simple medal but for Bill and me, as well as all those associated with Lost Medals Australia over the years, it marks a significant milestone as this is the 2000th medal that we have returned.