Mystery war medals returned to Ipswich family

REUNITED: Siblings Cathy Dwyer, Anne Young and Neil Young with the recovered war medal of their father's uncle, Trooper James Quinn.
REUNITED: Siblings Cathy Dwyer, Anne Young and Neil Young with the recovered war medal of their father's uncle, Trooper James Quinn. Rob Williams

A 99-YEAR-OLD First World War medal has been returned to the Ipswich family of the soldier who was awarded it after it fell out of the back of a lounge chair in Redcliffe.

Trooper James Quinn, while serving with the 5th Light Horse, died in 1917 and his campaign medal was handed to his great nieces Anne Young and Cathy Dwyer, and great nephew Neil Young, on Friday in Raceview after a long and extraordinary journey.

Redcliffe's Allan Mulley recounts how he came to be in possession of the medal.

"My mother gave me a cream lounge chair many years ago," he recalled.

"I took it home 10 to 15 years ago, and walked through the front door and had to turn the chair over to get it in.

"As I turned it over, what I thought was a gold coin fell out.

"I thought 'beauty, I have finally got something out of my mother'.

"But when I picked it up and cleaned it up I found out it was a Light Horse medal.

"A few nights previous a show was on TV about the Light Horse and I knew somebody would love to have it back."

Redcliffe resident Allan Mulley found the war medal of Trooper James Quinn in his lounge.
Redcliffe resident Allan Mulley found the war medal of Trooper James Quinn in his lounge. Rob Williams

Mr Mulley phoned all the names he could in the phone book and did other research but to no avail.

But a nephew's son in the air force linked him up with an organisation known as Medals Gone Missing which contacted Trooper Quinn's great niece Anne Young with the good news.

Mr Mulley and Medals Gone Missing representative Steve Stafford were overjoyed to hand over the medal to Trooper Quinn's living relatives.

"We are very excited about it and we are very proud," Ms Young said.

Ms Young said the family would "share" the medal around after such a momentous occasion.

"And we have a couple of cousins who will be interested in seeing it as well," she said

The family has done research with the Australian War Memorial and discovered the date when Trooper Quinn will be specially recognised.

"The people who died in war are recognised at 5pm every afternoon and we have a sister in Canberra and we plan to organise a visit for when he is recognised," Ms Dwyer said.

Mr Young said the return of the medal to the family was "unbelievable".

"We heard about it mid-last year and the build-up has gone along right up until just before Anzac Day," he said.

"We are all excited. Our father (Mervyn Young ) was also in the war and so Anzac Day is a very special day for us and this is just the cream on the top.

"We have our nieces and nephews here who are close to their grandfather and they know the value of the medal to the family."

The late Mr Mervyn Young served in Second World War in New Guinea and Bouganville.

Trooper Quinn's medal was posthumously awarded and his brother Ned was in Palestine at the time and it is thought the medal may have initially been given to him.

Trooper James Quinn.
Trooper James Quinn. Contributed

Trooper Quinn was born in Ipswich on August 14, 1891 and died on November 5, 1917 in Israel from a shrapnel wound to the head.

He served with the 5th Light Horse and is buried in the Beersheba War Cemetery in Palestine.

He was eight when his mother died and went to live with Catherine Quinn of Pelican St, North Ipswich.

His death was reported in the Saturday, November 17 Queensland Times which said that "both the deceased trooper and his late parents were well known in Grandchester, and much regret expressed to his relatives here on receipt of the sad news".

"Trooper Quinn was 26 years of age and joined the Imperial Forces two years ago. He was a steady young man, and previous to his enlisting, held a position on the railway in Ipswich".

Mr Mulley said he was moved to have played a part in the return of the medal to the family

"The Light Horse is a big thing in Australian history and I had a father and three brothers who all served," he said.

"I am just so stoked to be able to hand some history back to this family."

Mr Stafford, of Medals Gone Missing, said the medal in question was a campaign medal awarded to a veteran of the First World War.

"We receive through our website requests for connections or locations of medals throughout the world," he said.

"We then research the medals and find out who the living next of kin is and contact them to see if they are prepared to receive the medal from the caretaker."

Topics:  anzac-stories first world war

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