By Rebecca Peppiatt
A 110-YEAR-OLD medallion found in Midland Cemetery has been reunited with the family it belongs to, thanks to the detective work of Echo News readers.
Eighteen months ago, Swan View resident Harold Meaden was walking through the cemetery when he came across a silver medallion lying on the ground.
Inscribed with Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) and an engraving which read “presented to Brother N.L Williams for loyalty during 1912 RLY dispute”, Mr Meaden tried unsuccessfully to find out who the historical item belonged to.
Last month he brought the medallion into Echo News and asked for our help to find its rightful owners.
Our article, Mystery medallion looking for owner on November 19 garnered much attention from local detectives and history buffs further afield and with their help we discovered the medal belonged to a Norman Leslie Williams.
Further detective work found his grandchildren living in Perth.
“This, to us, is really something,” Lyn Hanger, one of Mr Williams’ grandchildren said to Mr Meaden.
“You could have just left it in your drawer, or your wife could have turfed it because that’s what happens in life and so this is pretty special that so many people have gone through the effort to find us.”
Mr Williams was born on January 10, 1891 in Melbourne.
At the age of 18 he began working for the West Australian Government Railways as an apprentice fitter at Midland Junction where he worked until 1915.
In 1916 he married Harriet Hirst and they had one child, a son named Allen, who went on to have three children; John, Lyn and Ken.
None of Mr Williams’ grandchildren got to meet him.
“Dad used to say he seemed very stern but underneath he had a heart of gold,” said Mrs Hanger who came to Midland earlier this week with her brother John to collect the medallion and personally thank Mr Meaden.
“But when you don’t meet someone, you don’t form those bonds and you don’t get to know who they are as a person.”
A “clever engineer” it is thought Mr Williams left the railways and went on to set up his own engineering business in North Perth that failed during the great depression of the 1930s.
How the medallion ended up in Midland Cemetery is a mystery as all three grandchildren live in the western suburbs and no other family members, that they know of, remain in the Midland area.
A likely explanation is that Mr Williams himself dropped it, perhaps when he was there for a funeral, which means the medallion has laid untouched since some time before his death in 1949.
Mr Williams had a stroke and died aged 58, he is buried in Karrakatta Cemetery.
Special thanks to Midland and Districts Historical Society’s Matthew Pavlinovich and Echo News reader Mercia Ion for their help tracking down the Williams family.