Remembering my Great Uncle.

Tailgunnerdownunder
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Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:50 am

When you have an interest in military history there are many events, battles, weapons, machinery and the human factor to consider and capture your interest on the subject. Having said that I think it's fair to say that when you add one's own family history into the mix it takes on a whole different meaning. Several times we have seen this in posts here on Broadsword by our members and most recently by Christopher. I thought I might share a story of my own involving my great uncle who enlisted and fought against the Japanese in WW2.

As a young boy growing up I had the opportunity to meet and develop a relationship with my great uncle Robert Kerr. I remember him as a tall man with a gentle nature and who seemed happy to take life one day at a time. I knew that he had served in WW2 but not much else about when and where. Once when I tried to ask him he became rather angry so I never mentioned the subject again. He did however give me some of his wartime gear as he knew I had some interest in WW2. I think he was pleased to be rid of it.
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Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:55 am

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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 7:42 am

Sadly he passed away in 1986 at the age of 82. He never married and lived his life on the family property with his brothers nearby. It wasn't until a number of years passed by and I was to continue to receive more of his personal papers and possessions (family members know of my strong interest in all things military)from that period in his life that I began to research his service records. It is certainly true.... the internet is a wonderful thing.
I was able to discover that he enlisted early in 1942 at a time when Australia was in a very serious position following Pearl Harbor and the unstoppable advance of the Japanese throughout south east Asia. He was assigned a role in the air defence of the Australian mainland (71st Australian Mobile Searchlight Battery)firstly in North Queensland (Townsville) then as the war threat changed to outside the Australian mainland. He spent time on Thursday Island (northern most tip of Australia) before returning to Brisbane in 1944. After a period of R&R he was sent to New Guinea and then finally to the island of Morotai in eastern Indonesia in early 1945.

His unit was part of the Australian 6th Division.
His searchlight battery was classified as an engineer unit and had quite a distinctive unit colour patch.
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Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 7:45 am

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Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:19 am

Morotai island in May of 1945 was where my great uncle's service ended abruptly. While serving there he suffered a serious medical condition and had to be flown back to Australia for emergency treatment. Thankfully he made a slow but successful recovery from a cerebral hemorrhage to live a full life and for me the opportunity to have a special relationship with my great uncle which I cherish to this day.
Earlier this year as I myself was recovering from surgery again took the time to read over his service records and realised that his service medals were never issued. I began the process of applying for them which took a period of several months. Not an easy process and I wasn't very hopeful of success but was willing to try nonetheless.
After applying via exceptional circumstances and waiting patiently I arrived home from work to find a rather large package waiting from the Directorate of Honours and Awards, Department of Defence, addressed to me.

When I opened the package this was what was inside.....
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Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:29 am

The 1939–1945 Star was awarded for specified periods of operational service overseas between 3 September 1939 and either 8 May 1945 in Europe or 2 September 1945 in the Far East theatre. The broad criteria were 180 days of service between these dates, with more specific criteria depending on service arm.
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Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:36 am

At the same time as the Second World War campaigns against Axis Forces in Africa and Europe, Allied forces were also fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. This campaign began on 8 December 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. It took place in the sea and air of the Pacific Ocean as well as on land, with Japanese forces quickly invading Malaya, Singapore and the Philippines. While the Japanese advance across the Pacific was stemmed by mid–1942 the war continued, both at sea and on numerous Pacific islands, until the final Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945.

The Pacific Star was instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to those who had served in operations in the Pacific Campaign from 8 December 1941 to 2 September 1945.
(Wikipedia)
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Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:46 am

The duration of the Second World War in Europe was from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, while in the Pacific Theatre it continued until 2 September 1945. The Defence Medal was instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945, to be awarded to British military and civilian personnel for a range of services in the United Kingdom, and to Commonwealth and British Colonial personnel who served from or outside their home countries in a non-operational area or in an area subject to threat, such as attacks from the air.
(Wikipedia)
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Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:53 am

The qualification requirement for the award of the War Medal 1939–1945 to full-time military personnel was 28 days of service, wherever rendered.
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Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:57 am

Initially, the qualifying period was at least 18 months full-time service at home or overseas, or at least three years part-time service, between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. There was no minimum qualifying period for those killed, wounded or disabled due to service.
(Wikipedia)
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Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:15 am

Needless to say it was an emotional time to finally have his medals issued after all these years.To have them in my possession is quite humbling. Thinking back to our relationship many years ago it almost seems right that I was the one to do so. I hope so. Either way they will now always be treasured as a mark of respect for my great uncles' proud service to his family, community and his country.

Regards Mark.
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Christopher Ailsby
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Christopher Ailsby » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:34 am

A wondeful grouping. The naming on the medals is terrific. Our "Boys and Girls" just got them uninscribed. My Uncle Phil Smithee who was with the Beds and Hearts Regiment. Had a sea cruise to Singapoor, they said it would be good for their health. When he got there he was welcomed by the Empourers envoys and became a guest for 3 years. When he was repatriated via Philapines and San Fransisco curtersy of our Yank cousins he was asked what medals did he think he should have. A very short "Fenland" response, you can keep them and shove them were the sun dose not shine.

So you Aussies did a much better thank you.

Christopher

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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Dave_Holden » Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:23 pm

This is an amazing post - just fantastic. I back what Chris has said just look at that group of medals, just amazing stuff. You really got to treasure these Mark, I only wish I had something from all the family on my Mother's side who served in the Royal Navy. Amazing stuff Mark and thank you for a great post :thumbsup:

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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Dave_Holden » Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:56 pm

Also the beautiful patina and the crisp engraving on these medals is just fantastic - really love this great group.

muckaroon1960
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby muckaroon1960 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:09 pm

Fantastic post Mark, thanks for sharing this wonderful story. :thumbsup:

Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:18 pm

Thank you guys for your kind words I really appreciate it. Thanks as well to the Broadsword forum for providing such a friendly and welcoming place to post :thumbsup: thanks Christopher for sharing your story concerning your Uncle as well. So many tragic stories I have read of the suffering and hardship experienced by POW's of many countries at the hands of the Japanese. Terrible stuff went on and if anybody hasn't read much on it please do so at some stage. As unpleasant as it is these soldiers need to be remembered for the treatment they received during their captivity.

In relation to these medals I would appreciate your opinion on what to do with them next. I was thinking of having them bar mounted so they can be worn by my grandchildren come ANZAC day. They really should be out and seen,not kept in a drawer. I didn't expect they would be presented so beautifully in their boxes with a broach pin attachment to each medal ribbon. This would have to be removed and of course they would not return to their presentation boxes. What to do? Your opinions are most welcome particularly Paul's as you are the medal 'guru ' of our forum. :thumbsup: Regards Mark.

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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Christopher Ailsby » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:15 pm

Dear Mark, firstly the medals are wonderfully cased. This is not like the cardboard box that our Boys received. My suggestion is a shadow box, this would show the case with the carton above or below. The relavent medal alongside. The picture place above with the insignia on either side. if you have a cap badge great if not get one and surmount the lot. The shadow box could be wall mounted or with "leg" so it could stand on a desk, or were ever. on the outside a brass or silver oblong bar on which you had his name, date of birth death, army number and regiment. Job done.

As to wearing by a family member - simple get another set, these would not be expensive, have engraved , I would put what was on the plaque. have mounted and you have a wear set. As you did them on his behalf they become his second set.

My Great Great Grandfather was at Warterloo, Had the medal. What ever happended to it is not known. I was lucky enough to find an official copy. This I had named. So he got a replacement. As I am the direct desendent it becomes his piece. It is not for sale but just for the Fa. mily. I will post it.

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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Christopher Ailsby » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:46 pm

Great Great Grandfather

First name(s)
John
Last name
Ailsby
Year
1815
Rank
Private
Regiment
10th Royal Regiment of Hussars
Sub unit
Captain John Garwood's Troop No.1.
Medal type
Waterloo Medal, 1815


As part of the 6th Cavalry Brigade, the regiment charged the French cavalry and infantry at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815
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Andyb
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Andyb » Tue Sep 03, 2019 3:31 pm

Mark, what an amazing post and your collection is priceless to you :thumbsup: . My Grandad served in the army and landed at Normandy but sadly he died just before I was born and my dad never talks about him and the war , so I presume he never said anything to my dad about it .
Anyway another suggestion is what I did for Karl , the old polish paratrooper, you could put his picture , medals and badges etc all together :thumbsup:

2D8A84BF-2C83-4536-93D6-4AD3AF73BF3E.jpeg
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Christopher Ailsby » Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:08 pm

Andy - that is a wonderful presentation. As they say in the "trade" perfect. This thread has done so much. Thank you all
Christopher

Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:38 pm

Some excellent suggestions for sure, thank you Christopher and Andy. I have much to think about here. I plan to get a set of miniatures for the little fella to start with. When he gets a bit older he will be able to wear the full size without walking with a lean or tipping over :lol: beyond that I will take some time to decide on the best way to proceed. I will continue with updates on this as I decide on what to do. Regards Mark

Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:41 pm

Thank you Christopher for sharing your story about your Great Great Grandfather. To have a direct family member able to be traced back to the Battle of Waterloo is something very special indeed. Regards Mark.

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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Dave_Holden » Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:52 pm

Thanks for your input in this fantastic post Chris and Andy. The Waterloo medal with the history Chris is truly amazing :thumbsup:

Tailgunnerdownunder
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Re: Remembering my Great Uncle.

Postby Tailgunnerdownunder » Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:15 am

Just as an update to this thread....recently I was both surprised and pleased to see a small display and acknowledgement at the Australian War Memorial for serving personnel in the Anti-aircraft Search Light Batteries during WW2. :thumbsup:

Regards Mark.
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