Missing British War Medal Returned of an AIF Tunneller Who Found Himself Serving in the B.G.R.O.C (4th Australian Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company) – Corporal Andrew Ross FAULKNER

In June 2011, Medals Gone Missing by a lovely lady who stated that she wished to return a British War Medal from the Great War to a direct descendant of Corporal Andrew Ross FAULKNER. This lady, who wished to remain anonymous indicated that she could not recall how the medal came to be in her possession, but that she had kept the medal safe since she was a child and that she would like to have it returned to its rightful place. She indicated a vague memory that the medal may have once been in the possession of her grandfather at one time.The recipient of the British War Medal, Sapper Andrew Ross FAULKNER. Born in Bright, Victoria circa 1873, this soldier was 44 years of age when he enlisted into the AIF on the 18th of April, 1917. Stating his calling as ‘Mining Engineer’, it was natural that Andrew would enter the Mining Corps. His wife and next of kin at the time of enlistment was Mrs Louisa FAULKNER. Andrew would be allocated the service number 7562 and according to the First World War Embarkation Roll, he boarded HMAT Anchises (A68) at port Sydney on the 8th August, 1917.

IMAGE RIGHT: A photograph of Andrew Ross FAULKNER, probably taken circa 1900 – when he was a 28 year old mining engineer.  In 1904, Andrew took a patent on a new system of mine ventilation.  Joining the AIF late in life, he was 44 when he enlisted and his profession naturally led him to being designated as a ‘Tunneller’.  However it is not known why he would be transferred to the 4th B.G.R.O.C. A.I.F.

Landing in England, it appears that Andrew was deployed to France with the Engineers but has been transferred to the 4th Australian Broad Gauge Railway Operation Company (A.B.G.R.O. Coy) whilst in France. His records do not clearly state when this transfer took place, however he was with this unit when the First World War ended.
According to Andrew’s service records which are on hand with the National Archives of Australia, Andrew Ross FAULKNER made application for his Victory Medal during September of 1923. As the option for ‘British War Medal’ was struck out, it is evident that Andrew was already in possession of this particular award. What happened to his British War Medal after that, can only be speculated upon. As the medal is missing the ribbon hanging bar, is it possible that it was accidentally lost one day as the medal dislodged from its ribbon?

IMAGE LEFT: The missing British War Medal of Corporal Andrew Ross FAULKNER as kept by a little girl who in later life, generously sought to return the medal to its rightful place.  With the ‘bar’ that suspends the medal ribbon missing, is it possible that the medal was lost by its owner one Anzac Day during a march?

As a result of the medal listing on the Medals Gone Missing website, we were contacted by Mr Wayne FAULKNER who is a direct descendant of Andrew Ross FAULKER during January 2012. Contact was made with the good Samaritan who was in possession of the British War Medal and true to her word, this lady agreed to surrender the medal. This she handed over free of any charge or profit, still wishing to keep her identity secret. It is generosity like this which maintains our faith in human nature.

IMAGE RIGHT: The British War Medal showing the inscription ‘7562 Cpl A.R. FAULKNER’.

And the descendants of Corporal Andrew Ross FAULKNER could not have been happier! Wayne is the great grandson of this Aussie digger and since May of 2010, he had been researching his family tree. Wayne wrote to Dept of Defence to ascertain if he could locate Andrew’s war service medals, but was told the awards had been forwarded to Andrew at that time he was working on the No 3 Sawmill at Gembrook, Victoria in 1923.

IMAGE LEFT: The British War Medal which bears the inscription ‘B.G.R.O.C. A.I.F.’ which stands for ‘Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company, Australian Imperial Force’.

Wayne indicated that his great grandfather hailed from Irish stock and that Andrew’s parents were William and Ellen Faulkner; the first white settlers in Bright Victoria. They settled in this location in 1852 and started a family.

Who would have known back then, that one of their sons would become swept up in the Great War. A near relative, John James FAULKNER was seriously wound at the Nek in August 1915 as a member of the 8th Light Horse Regiment. This proud unit would leave its mark on this Gallipoli battlefield when its soil was stained with the blood of young Victorians who made up the first two waves of the attacking force during the August offensive.

IMAGE RIGHT: Colour patch of the Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company, Australian Imperial Force.  It is not clear from Andrew’s service records, why a Mining Engineer would be transferred to the B.G.R.O.C. but clearly men with his skills were clearly needed in this corps.

Thankfully, Andrew would be spared this type of fighting as a member of the Engineers; however he was transferred to the B.G.R.O.C. (Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company of the Australian Imperial Force) and it is this unit which is inscribed on his British War Medal.  Despite the fact that this was not a ‘front line’ unit, infrastructure such as railways which brought supplies up to the front were always subject of enemy artillery.  So it is not surprising that when he returned from the Great War in May 1919, he was still suffering the effects of gas to his eyes. This soldier slipped quietly back into civilian life at Wandiligong ( 6km from Bright). His mother Ellen had passed away in January 1918, whilst Andrew was on active service. But being a married man, he returned to his wife whom he referred to as Louisa. Andrew Ross and Louisa FAULKNER had 8 children – the youngest being 7 years of age when he returned from the war. Their eldest child – was James Alexander FAULKNER in turn would father a boy, Ross Edward Alexander FAULKNER who was born in 1916 and would see service in the Second World War. This bloodline would continue down to Wayne who has now become the custodian of Andrew’s British War Medal.

Interestingly, James Alexander FAULKNER had a daughter named Elizabeth who was born the 1st ANZAC DAY during 1915!

In returning to the sad story of Andrew Ross FAULKNER, sadly the health of his wife was not good and she only lived another 13 months after Andrew’s repatriation.

If only a medal could speak, there is no doubt that this particular British War Medal would have its own tale to tell. In terms of locating the medal listed on the Medals Gone Missing website, Wayne stated:- “It is hard to believe that I should even find the entry. I knew nothing what so ever regarding your organization. It was entirely by accident that I found you. I did another Google search on A.R. Faulkner just the other day and was taken to you. It is amazing”.

However, as this new custodian also bears the middle name of “Ross”, we can be sure that it is being well cared for and has taken pride of place back with the descendants of Corporal Andrew Ross FAULKNER.

IMAGE RIGHT: The British War Medal as it looks complete with the hanging bar and ribbon.  Corporal Andrew Ross FAULKNER was also entitled to the Victory Medal which is missing.  Can you help to reunite this medal set?  If so, please contact Wayne FAULKNER through the Medals Gone Missing website.

WISH TO READ ABOUT AUSTRALIAN TUNNELLERS DURING THE GREAT WAR?  PLEASE Click Here

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About gary

Gary Traynor is the volunteer Administrator of the Militaria based website MEDALSGONEMISSING. The aim of this "NOT FOR PROFIT" website is to reunite families, with lost War Medals and other items of militaria. Anything from medals to items of uniform. What Gary refers to as their "lost heritage". He has been actively involved in the Militaria world and researching of Military History for well over 30 years. As a result, Gary also conducts valuations and offers advice on all items of militaria. He has acted as advisor to a number of television and Foxtel productions; including Sir Tony Robinson's "Tour of Duty" series which featured on the History Channel. Gary is a field historian and conducts tours to Gallipoli, The Western Front, Kokoda and many other major battle sites around the world. He was a member of the Australian Army Reserve (UNSWR & 4/3 RNSWR) and served for 23 years with the New South Wales Police Force. He is perhaps the only person who has been employed at the Australian War Memorial in all three capacities .... as a volunteer, part time and full time employee .... starting as a qualified tour guide, working in the public galleries as an Information Assistant and finally Assistant Curator in Military Heraldry & Technology. Medalsgonemissing is a website that will assist you in locating your family's lost war medals and other awards. If you have an ancestor who served in any of the British Commonwealth Armed Services at any time - and whose medals are lost/stolen or simply missing....then so long as the medals are out there - this site will help you to locate them. However the site also contains articles of interest in relation to Military History, War Memorials & Uniforms / kit. Please explore our website as there is sure to be something of interest to you.
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One Response to Missing British War Medal Returned of an AIF Tunneller Who Found Himself Serving in the B.G.R.O.C (4th Australian Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company) – Corporal Andrew Ross FAULKNER

  1. Pingback: Reflections on Finding a Missing War Medal – Good luck, Coincidence or Providence? A story from a First World War Descendant & the Missing War Medal which found its way home. | Medals Gone Missing

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