Tapping: Medal returned to family of World War I soldier ahead of Remembrance Day

John Holland (Tapping) wih his grandfather Thomas Leo McAdam's World War 1 medal.  Picture: Martin Kennealey.
John Holland (Tapping) wih his grandfather Thomas Leo McAdam's World War 1 medal. Picture: Martin Kennealey.

A MEDAL awarded to a World War I soldier has found its way back to his family.

Tapping resident John Holland recently received an Imperial Force medal given to the grandfather he never met, Thomas Leo McAdam.

Queenslander Dave Atkins found the medal in a cigarette tin in a suitcase when his own grandfather died about five years ago.

However, he only realised it did not belong to his grandfather when he took a closer look at the inscription three years ago.

John Holland (Tapping) wih his grandfather Thomas Leo McAdam’s World War 1 medal. Picture: Martin Kennealey.

An ex-serviceman himself, Mr Atkins published a notice on the ‘Medals Gone Missing’ website, then recruited the help of the RSL to track down Major McAdam’s descendants.

Mr Holland said Geraldton historian Nicole Edwards researched the soldier’s family and tracked him down, and Mr Atkins arranged to hand over the medal in Perth last month.

While neither Mr Holland nor his siblings knew about the medals, they have learnt their grandfather received another two.

Major Thomas Leo McAdam.

He said receiving the medal had motivated him to learn more about his grandfather and he hoped they could track down the other medals.

Mr Holland said his grandfather was born in Sydney and moved to Perth in about 1910.

“When he enlisted, he was sent to New Guinea because at the time the Germans were in New Guinea,” he said.

“He stayed in the army until 1921 (then) he applied to be the district officer.”

He lived there with his wife Madeline and daughters, including Mr Holland’s mother Frances, born in 1921, and continued in that role until the Japanese invasion in 1942.

“At the time of the Japanese invasion of New Guinea, he escaped in a boat with a number of other Australians,” Mr Holland said.

Tom McAdam with his wife Madeline and oldest daughter Molly.

“It was a scary journey back to Australia.

“Japanese Zero aircraft flew over their boat on several occasions to investigate.

“They pretended to be locals who were out fishing.

“They were fortunate to not be strafed.

John Holland with Queenslander Dave Atkins, who found the medal among his grandfather’s possessions.

“He died in 1951 – that was about three months before I was born.”

The public servant said it felt more significant that the medal returned to Major McAdam’s descendents in the lead up to the Armistice Centenary on November 11.

“It is 100 years since the end of World War I, and the medal is finally going back to Tom McAdam’s family,” he said.