War medal returned after lost on Chelsea beach 96 years ago

It is a special ANZAC Day for one family after a WW1 war medal thought to have been lost in 1925 has finally been returned nearly 100 years later.

In 1980 a WW1 British Victory medal was located at Beaumaris beach.

The finder of the medal was married at the time but later passed away. His wife re-married and both she and her partner are local members of the Upwey Belgrave RSL Sub Branch.

Through the process they met Sergeant Vaughan Atherton from Lilydale Police, also a member of the branch after serving as an Army Reservist for nine years.

Sgt Atherton got to work searching for the rightful owner of the medal, a Private R.S.G. Smith of the 5th Battalion AIF (Australian Imperial Force).

Sgt Atherton tracked Private Smiths details through the National Archives of Australia and found that Robert Stanley Gordon Smith was born in Fitzroy in 1891.

He enlisted at Broadmeadows on the 7th August 1915 and formed part of the 13th Reinforcements, 5th Battalion AIF and served in France where he was wounded in action twice.

He returned to Australia where he met and married Ada Grace Nicholl.

Private R.S.G Smith passed away on 23rd April 1963 and is buried at the Coburg Cemetery.

In his service record is a Statutory Deceleration where he requests the replace of his ‘Badge’ which he lost at Chelsea beach in 1925.

Sgt Atherton recently located two living descendants of the family line and reunited the war medal with the rightful family.

Nephew Alan Norster has said he was delighted to receive the call “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to have this medal put on display at Upwey- Belgrave RSL museum.

I am sure Private Smiths’ medal will be treasured by all present and future RSL members”.

Sgt Atherton recently had luck reuniting another family with WW2 medals stolen over 50 years ago.

He said “To be able to return these treasured items always brings me pleasure.

They are irreplaceable and are normally handed down through families as a reminder of the sacrifices and service made by our earlier generations.

I am glad that I have been successful on this occasion in reuniting the medal with the recipient’s relatives”.

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