Missing War Medals sought of Driver Basil William GRAY 2806 – 7th Field Company Engineers AIF

The war service medals of Driver Basil William GRAY are missing and his family are desperately trying to locate them. The missing medals consist of the First World War British War Medal and Victory Medal.

These missing medals were stolen decades ago, during a burglary in Oyster Bay, Sydney during late 1974 or early 1975. It is hoped that the person responsible pawned or sold the Great War medals, rather than simply throw them away. Now, nearly 50 years later it is hoped the medals are sitting in a collection somewhere with the current owner having no idea of the theft, nor the fact that Basil’s grandchildren are desperately trying to recover them.

The British War Medal and Victory Medal, similar to those missing war medals awarded to 2806 Basil William GRAY. The inscription ‘Dvr B.W. GRAY 7 F.C.E.’ may be impressed on the very edge of these medals. These medals may now be in the hands of an unknown collector. If you have these medals, would you consider kindly selling them back to his family? If so, please contact Medals Gone Missing.

There is nothing remarkable about Basil’s service, other than the fact that this man gave up the luxuries and benefits of civilian life to serve his country. As a driver in the 7th Field Company Engineers, he risked death through enemy artillery bombardments and disease through service abroad. Indeed it appears he contracted malaria in Egypt whilst awaiting embarkation to Europe. So if you are a collector or know of the whereabouts of these missing war medals, you may be kind enough to sell them back to his descendants and put the minds of a country family at rest.

Please contact volunteer Medals Gone Missing Administrator Gary Traynor on 044 969 2401 or through this website if you have any information or can assist in any way.

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Posted in Honour Roll - Australian Stories, Stolen Medals | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corona Virus will not weary us, nor the years of storage condemn. A good news story in time for ANZAC Day! (Walter Joseph HUNT – 162 Australian General Transport Company)

Whilst the title ‘Medals Gone Missing’ indicate what this website is all about, our charter is not simply restricted to the return or missing war service medals.  Every now and then we come across a little gem which has been lost in time …. and the gem, subject of this story once belonged to a man named Walter Joseph HUNT.  Walter served with the 162nd Australian General Transport Company during the Second World War.

But to theorise the fate of how these ‘gems’ survive or even failed to survive; we need to look at some simple facts.

The reverse (back section) of Walter's Pattern 1937 waist belt, showing the rear 1" buckles had been removed.

The reverse (back section) of Walter’s Pattern 1937 waist belt, showing the rear 1″ buckles had been removed.

Soldiers, sailors and airmen during the Second World War (or any war for that matter) came from all corners of the globe ….. and all walks of life. They were issued items of kit – namely uniforms, webbing, accoutrements and various pieces of equipment. Many of these men and women scribed their names or service number onto those items and then went about their business.  At war’s end, much of this equipment was returned to respective Q-Stores and these wonderful servicemen and women went back to wherever it was they came. Many simply fading back quietly into civilian life, never to be mentioned in history books or honors lists.  Post war, those pieces of uniform and kit met all different fates. Much was declared obsolete to the armed services and “sold out of service”.  Or in other words, it was sent to Government auctions and sale yards and offered to the general public as surplus.  Many large items, such as aircraft and motor vehicles were sold for scrap value or ended up on farms where they were cannibalised for their countless nuts and bolts. Because brass was used in many small items, pieces of kit were simply cut up …. the brass going to the melting pot with the cotton or leather body of the item being discarded. Sadly, much of the ex-military kit was burnt or went to land fill …. and all of that valuable history was lost.

Wikipedia states “The Darkest Hour” was a phrase coined by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to describe the period of World War II between the Fall of France in June 1940 and the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. There is little doubt that for Australia, the year 1942 was our “Darkest Hour”.  Singapore had fallen, Darwin was first bombed, Sydney Harbour was attacked by Japanese midget submarines and the battle for the Kokoda Trail was being fought.  To the average Australian, the situation was far more serious than any modern day Corona Virus and we feared for hearths and homes.  One Australian man who answered the call in 1942 to combat that threat, was a Sydneysider named Walter Joseph HUNT.

The AMF (Australian Military Forces) enlistment photograph of Walter Joseph HUNT N256695 who enlisted in 1942.

The AMF (Australian Military Forces) enlistment photograph of Walter Joseph HUNT N256695 who enlisted in 1942.

At 32 years of age, Walter HUNT would have been considered an old man by his younger comrades. He was a married man, when he enlisted into the CMF (Citizen Military Forces) and was posted to a little, obscure unit called the 162nd General Transport Company.

From 1939 through to 1945, an Australian General Transport Company was a unit which was a part of the Australian Army Service Corps. Its job was to transport and resupply Australian troops using various types of vehicles including 3-ton trucks, throughout the Middle East and Pacific theatre of operations. An Australian General Transport Company would be tasked to move stores and personnel; as well as distribute supplies, rations, and ammunition wherever they were needed. This type of unit is rarely mentioned in the history books.  And their men are seldom recorded as performing any heroic deeds, or were the recipient of prestigious awards. Their work was often hot, dusty and boring.  Yet there is no doubt they came under enemy fire from time to time, and their lives were sometimes endangered by disease, poor diet, fatigue and dangerous roads.  Without them, an army simply could not function efficiently, and they formed an essential part of the big jigsaw which made up the Australian Military Forces.

Walter Joseph HUNT (on right wearing helmet) and a comrade pose on motor cycles whilst serving with the 162nd Australian General Transport Company. It is believed this photograph was taken somewhere in Australia. The unit was to serve in Milne Bay New Guinea during 1944.

Walter Joseph HUNT (on right wearing helmet) and a comrade pose on motor cycles whilst serving with the 162nd Australian General Transport Company. It is believed this photograph was taken somewhere in Australia. The unit was to serve in Milne Bay New Guinea during 1944.

So when a Pattern 37 waist belt turns up on eBay bearing the name W.J. HUNT and the militia service number N256695, issued to a man from the 162nd General Transport Company … it barely raises an eyebrow amongst the militaria collectors who seek out  collectables.  Especially when the belt has been stripped and is devoid of its brass work.

One can only wonder where the belt of Walter HUNT had been laying for the past 75 odd years?  During that time, it could easily have been tossed into some garbage bin and ended up in land fill, or shoved into the corner of a  shed, where it would gradually succumb to damp and rot.  But by some small fortune it survived …. and every item has a story to tell.

A British Pattern 1937 waist belt was usually manufactured with two small, 1-inch brass buckles stitched to the rear of the belt.  These buckles would accommodate the 1” shoulder braces which supported the weight of the Pattern 1937 ammunition carriers, fixed to the front of the wearer. When the belt was not in campaign use, it was often used to simply decorate the uniform i.e. worn with the General Service Tunic during periods of leave or around barracks.

The Pattern 1937 (also colloquially known as Pattern 37) waist belt. Note the brass fasteners (buckle) has been removed.

The Pattern 1937 (also colloquially known as Pattern 37) waist belt. Note the brass fasteners (buckle) has been removed.

In the case of Walter’s belt, these rear buckles had been removed, which is not uncommon. It is likely the buckles were removed in the post war search for scrap brass. But could it be that they were removed by Walter himself during his service? He was a driver with the 162nd Australian Transport Company which would require him to regularly enter and exit a motor lorry.  Did Walter find that the buckles caused damage to the seat of his lorry or often became snagged on things as he entered and exited the vehicle?  This suggestion is plausible, however the caveat to this suggestion is the fact it was an offence to damage or destroy items of military issue equipment. Did his Commanding Officer turn a blind eye to such things due to practicality?

Many soldiers were issued a new uniform at war’s end.  So is this the belt which Walter used in service between 1942 and 1945?  Or is it in fact his “coming home” belt which he was issued just prior to discharge?  To quote a family member, “Walter was always immaculate and dressed perfectly without a thing out of place”. So perhaps Walter wore this belt when he proceeded home at the end of the war, and then threw it into a cupboard as he re-entered civilian life. The belt being long forgotten, until ending up in his deceased estate and/or put up for sale.  His grandchildren certainly do not seem to have any memory of it.

Walter Joseph HUNT was on deployment to New Guinea when his first born child, baby Maureen came into the world during January of 1943.  This places Walter in or around Port Moresby during the battle for the beach heads of Buna, Gona and Sanananda which ended the Kokoda campaign.

Walter Joseph HUNT was on deployment to New Guinea when his first born child, baby Maureen came into the world during January of 1943. This places Walter in or around Port Moresby during the battle for the beach heads of Buna, Gona and Sanananda which ended the Kokoda campaign.

Fortunately in the case of Walter’s belt, there is a happy ending to this story.  And this story is as much a tribute to the wonderful work of leading history researcher – Sandra Smith of Medals Gone Missing ….. as it is to a wonderful little relic of the Second World War.   Whenever a challenge is put to Sandra …. she rarely fails to find some descendant or other of any given serviceman. And in this instance, Sandra has managed to locate a granddaughter of Private Walter Joseph HUNT.

Walter’s family sent through some photographs of their grandfather’s face, knowing that his World War Two service belt had been found.  A Pattern 37 waistbelt which he would have worn over 75 years ago!  For the volunteers of Medals Gone Missing …. it is always a tremendous thrill to see the face and look into the eyes of a person who starts off as ‘just a name’ and becomes subject of their research.

But an even bigger thrill will be returning this valuable family link to a bygone digger …. On ANZAC Day 2020!

Walter Joseph HUNT once signed his name on a piece of paper, stating he was prepared to give his life if necessary, in service of his country.  He served on dusty roads in Australia and New Guinea.  The Japanese did not get him …. and he survived the risk of motor vehicle accident, malaria, dysentery, the threat of tropical ulcers and scrub typhus.  His Pattern 37 belt survived the war and 75 years of dubious storage.

The very least we can do this ANZAC Day, is ensure that Corona Virus (Covid 19) does not dampen his memory or cast a shadow over his service!  Returning his wartime belt to is grandchildren on the 25th of April will be the highlight of our day!

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Posted in Honour Roll - Australian Stories, Military Medals, Military Memorabilia, Missing Militaria - Now Found! | Leave a comment

Missing First World War Memorial Plaque – Trafford Cyril PETTIGREW – 7th Battalion AIF Gallipoli – Can you help?

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I am searching for the missing First World War Memorial Plaque (colloquially but incorrectly known as a ‘Death Plaque’) which was commissioned in memory of Trafford Cyril PETTIGREW.

Trafford Cyril PETTIGREW is my great-uncle and his service number was 505.  He served with the 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force and tragically was killed in action on 25 April 1915 somewhere on North Beach near Anzac Cove.

A blank First World War Memorial Plaque, similar to that commissioned in memory of Trafford Cyril PETTIGREW.  Trafford served with the 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF and he was tragically killed in action at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915.  Can you help this family recover Trafford's lost Memorial Plaque.

A blank First World War Memorial Plaque, similar to that commissioned in memory of Trafford Cyril PETTIGREW. Trafford served with the 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF and he was tragically killed in action at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915. Can you help this family recover Trafford’s lost Memorial Plaque.

The plaque was taken by deception from my father, Joseph Cyril Pettigrew, in Sydney around 2000-2003, before he died. The person involved purported to represent some sort of museum and took the plaque on loan for a display. My father, an ex-serviceman VX21279, was in his eighties.

Also missing, although I believe legitimately to have been lost, are Traff’s Trio consisting of the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. In 2018 the Department of Defence Honours and Awards section were gracious enough to allow me to claim Traff’s Commemorative Medallion as his nearest surviving next of kin. To me, the plaque represents not only Trafford Cyril’s bravery and sacrifice,  but also the sons, uncles and cousins that were never to be.

 

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Missing General Service Medal 1793-1814 with Maida Clasp to Donald GRANT sought by family – Can you help?

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The descendants of Donald GRANT are searching for his missing General Service Medal 1793-1814 awarded for his participation in the Battle of Maida.

Donald GRANT was born in Nigg, Scotland. He fought at the Battle of Maida and received the General Service Medal as a member of the 78th Regiment of Foot (Ross-shire Buffs).  The Battle of Maida took place on the 4th of July 1806, and was a battle between the British Expeditionary Force and a First French Empire division outside the town of Maida in Calabria, Italy during the Napoleonic Wars.

An example of a General Service Medal 1793-1814. Whilst this actual medal shows a clasp for Busaco, the missing General Service Medal of Donald GRANT may still have a clasp for Maida attached to the ribbon.

An example of a General Service Medal 1793-1814. Whilst this actual medal shows a clasp for Busaco, the missing General Service Medal of Donald GRANT may still have a clasp for Maida attached to the ribbon.

It is believed the General Service Medal with bar for Maida, ended up in New Zealand and we would dearly like to locate it.  We fully appreciate that anything could have happened to this medal and it may even be in possession of a museum or a private collector who values this medal in their collection.  However we would very much appreciate it, just to discover where it is and with your kindness, negotiate the possibility of selling it back to our family.

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Are you related to Private John HENDERSON who served in the British Machine Gun Corps during World War 1?

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Are you related to a British soldier named John HENDERSON who served in the British Army during the Great War?  The man whose descendants we are looking for served in the Machine Gun Corps and Medals Gone Missing Chief Researcher, Sandra Smith indicates that five (5) men by that name served in this unit during 1914-1918.

In particular, John HENDERSON of the Machine Gun Corps who is subject of our search had the Service Number 127323 and the good news is that he survived the conflict – and does not appear on the Commonwealth War Graves List of those who died during the Great War.

The Great War cap badge of the British Machine Gun Corps, showing the Crown over crossed Vickers Guns. Image courtesy of the website British Military Badges U.K.

The Great War cap badge of the British Machine Gun Corps, showing the Crown over crossed Vickers Guns. Image courtesy of the website British Military Badges U.K.

One of John’s war service medals has appeared in Australia, so is it possible that John or one of his descendants emigrated to the southern hemisphere post war?

Sandra states “This is going to be a tough one to crack as most of UK World War 1 Service Records were destroyed by Hitler’s bombing during the blitz circa 1940” so we are hoping that somebody out there is searching for John’s medals?

PLEASE NOTE:- This medal is NOT for general sale and will only be returned to a next of kin upon very strict proof of relationship.

Name: John Henderson
Military Year: 1914-1920
Rank: Private
Medal Awarded: British War Medal and Victory Medal
Regiment or Corps: Machine Gun Corps
Regimental Number: 127323
Previous Units: 127323. M G C. Pte.

If you are related to John HENDERSON, please contact the Medals Gone Missing Administrator immediately as a window of opportunity may close (in early 2019) to recover this particular medal.

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Posted in Honour Roll - British Stories, Military Medals | Leave a comment