Long search for medal’s home

Sandra Kelly with her Shirley Kilgariff and Sergeant Steve Walters, who returned the medal to Mrs Kilgariff. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d411015
Sandra Kelly with her Shirley Kilgariff and Sergeant Steve Walters, who returned the medal to Mrs Kilgariff. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d411015

Then, earlier this month, they got a call from police.

Wanneroo Sergeant Steve Walters had solved a month-long investigation.

No criminals, no arrests, this was an investigation of a different kind.

A war medal had been found in an Ashby park.

With no one having come forward to claim it, Sgt Walters made it his mission to return it to the late recipient’s next of kin.

All he had was the service medal and a name ” Air Force Sergeant Harold Bush.

‘The medal recipient only had a daughter, who had changed names through marriage a couple of times,’ he said. ‘Trying to track the family tree forward was difficult.

‘It only takes one or two name changes, especially when our computer system’s not going so far back.

‘We’re talking back to the ’20s and ’30s.’

The search for the veteran’s family took a complex path.

Then, by chance, after trawling through police records, Sgt Walters made a discovery.

He found an old report of a missing purse posted by Sgt Bush’s granddaughter Sandra Kelly.

Mrs Kelly was bewildered to receive the police call asking about her grandfather, who had died decades ago.

But the biggest surprise came for her mum Shirley Kilgariff ” Sgt Bush’s daughter.

‘I told my mum and she said ‘are you sure? I don’t even think he had a war medal’,’ the Scarborough resident said. ‘Mum was quite excited, she’s 82 now, it was linked to her past and to her father, who’s been dead for quite a while.’

Based in Australia, Sgt Bush served as a Royal Australian Air Force Sergeant in Darwin from 1942 to 1945. He died at 62.

How the medal came to be lost remains a mystery.

Sgt Walters deemed it an irreplaceable item too important to go unreturned.

‘This was something bigger than your average piece of found property,’ he said.

‘Monetarily it might not have been worth much, but sentimentally’