Friday, October 18, 2013

A TALE OF SEX, BRAVERY AND SKULDUGGERY

OK, I'll admit that the sex part is gilding the lily a bit so Len Brown, you can rest easy although I have to say your latest escapade gives new life to the socialist battle cry about the need to f**k the Tories at every opportunity.    

No, this story involves the Russell RSA.   A great little RSA only a hop, step and jump from the ferry wharf where hospitality is their creed along with great food provided by their gourmet chef.   A couple of years ago fellow Vietnam veteran Pedro was ferreting around in their storeroom and came across a set of medals comprising a Military Cross and two bars along with the British War Medal 1914-18 and the Victory Medal.     He recognised the Military Cross as unique but hit a brick wall when he found that the medals had the name of the recipient machined off them.

Pedro contacted the Imperial War Museum in London who confirmed there were only ever seven triple Military Crosses awarded to UK and allied service personnel in WW1 and none to New Zealanders.     Pedro didn't give up.  He had the medals forensically examined and they were able to ascertain they were awarded to a Captain AC Youdale of the Royal Flying Corps.

More checking.   Alfred Clarence Youdale was an Australian who served at Gallipoli.    He was invalided back to Australia (indications are that he contracted Yellow Fever) and discharged.   He then made his way to the UK and joined the RFC and trained as a pilot before being posted to the Western Front.  Youdale was awarded his first MC as a Second Lieutenant for an action that occurred on 14 August 1917; his second MC as a Captain for an action six weeks later and the third for an action on 23 December 1917 when he and his observer were killed.

He of course never received the medals.   It was presumed they were sent to his NOK in Australia (probably his mother).      More checking.   Pedro and his wife Barb went through every Australian telephone directory and made contact with all the Youdales listed.   They struck it lucky with a family in New South Wales who were able to identify AC Youdale as one of theirs.

It is a complete mystery how the medals ever got to NZL and to Russell.   The Youdale family has no connections with NZL.    The best guess is that the medals were stolen or pawned but how they ever ended up in the storeroom of the Russell RSA is a complete mystery.

The medals have been refurbished and are being gifted to a special Trust which will loan them back to the Russell RSA where they will be displayed under tight security.   This will occur at a special ceremony to take place on Armistice Day with six members of the Youdale family coming across from Australia for the occasion where they will be presented with a replica set.    Also in  attendance will be representatives of the NZL, Australian and British Governments and armed forces.

There was some debate as to who owns the medals.   As they were never reported stolen advice has it that it is the Russell RSA.   The medals have been valued and the figure reflects the fact they are unique.  The RAF Museum have offered to purchase them for megabucks but they are not for sale.   

Fascinating story.

1 comment:

Paulus said...

Well done Pedro - you deserve a medal, or a coupla pints at least.
Great to hear story.