We recently marked the centenary of the armistice and would like to share a fascinating story with our readers linked to the First World War and Castlemaine.
Former Castlemaine resident Tony Cole recently contacted the Mail to share the tale of a ‘Victory Medal’ he discovered in the dirt of his Wesley Hill backyard as a young boy.
The Victory Medal was presented to all members of the
Commonwealth Forces after the war and depicts ‘Justice’ on one side and on the back is inscribed with the words ‘The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919.’ The soldier’s name and regiment number runs around the rim of the medal.
As an 11-12 year old child Tony was unable to locate anyone who knew about its owner Edward Charles Richardson’s origins.
In the 54 years since Tony has kept the medal safely tucked away but in recent years curiosity again got the better of him and with the help of the Castlemaine Historical Society and Bendigo RSL he has been able to glean a bit more information about the mystery solider.
“I approached the Castlemaine Historical Society several years ago and they did some digging for me and found a few links to Richardsons in the area, including a Richardson family which had been sluicing in the area back in 1907 and a George Richardson who held a right to a water race behind my former home at 50 McGrath Street but no ‘Edwards Charles Richardson,'” he said.
“Then in a meeting with Bendigo RSL it was pointed out to me that the soldier was not Australian, he was in fact Canadian.”
Armed with the solider’s full name and identification number Tony was recently able to access the war records for the man behind the long lost WWI relic.
Tony discovered Edward Charles Richardson had enlisted in 1915 and served with the 121st Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France. The private earned 15 dollars per month for his services which was forwarded to his brother in Bakersfield, California.
The 43-year-old was discharged from service in March 1919 due to the demobilisation.
So how did this Canadian’s medal come to be in a dusty backyard Down Under?
Tony could only guess at this until the local historical society made an interesting discovery.
“They found some information that indicated an Edward Charles, crew member on a ship ‘Cokesit’, was hospitalised in Melbourne in 1927. Was this the infamous Richardson? Had he perhaps travelled to Castlemaine to visit relatives or chaps he had met during the war before returning to his ship?
This part of the story still remains a mystery but it’s one Tony would love to solve.
“I’d really love to be able to return the medal to Edward’s family. They might know the link to Castlemaine and have the answer to the mystery,” he said.
If you have any information please email Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org