Discovering Dad – The Local RSL Sub Branch

12 May 2015

Well – today dawned clear and bright with just a few clouds in the sky – and there was absolutely no clue as to how exciting the day would be for me.  I had decided over the weekend to visit our local RSL sub-branch office here in Tamworth to see if I could get some help in deciphering dads Service and Casualty forms.

As I walked into the office I was met by two quite stern female faces and I immediately wondered if I would get any help out of them at all.  The younger of the two introduced herself as Mary and asked how she could help. I explained that I just needed some help with some of my fathers service papers and the transformation was immediate, she became friendly and extremely helpful.  Note to self – don’t judge people to quickly or harshly!

Mary showed me into a small office and when we were both seated she asked if she could see the documents I had with me.  There was an almost reverent touch of the documents as her fingers moved over the paper and she told me “you know, you don’t get these beautiful forms anymore, everything these days is digitised”.

Firstly we went over the abbreviations that were used on the documents, and of course things became a great deal clearer to me with her helpful explanations. 

After joining up at Merrylands, Dad was sent to Bathurst with the 2nd Australian Advanced Ordnance Depot on 20 March 1942.  By 19 Sept 1942 mum and my eldest sister had joined him in Bathurst as he changed his contact for next of kin to c/o Mrs Davis, 100 Seymour Street, Bathurst.  Mum and Noeleen must have been boarders.

Dad was transferred from the 2nd Advanced Ordnance Depot to the 6 Australian Ordnance Store Company on 7 Nov 1942.  I learned that my dad had obviously dropped something quite heavy on his foot as on 17 Nov 1942 just 10 days after transfer, as he was admitted to hospital for a fractured right toe.   It must have been a fairly significant injury though as he wasn’t discharged from hospital until 7 Dec 1942.  After discharge he was placed on general duties (equivalent of light duties) until 13 Feb 1943, some 10 or so weeks later.

2nd Advanced Australian Ordnance Depot Men.  L to R:  Ron Di Salvia, Ernie ?, Doug Grisdale, the rest unknown
2nd Advanced Australian Ordnance Depot Men. L to R:
Ron Di Salvia, Ernie ?, Doug Grisdale, the rest unknown

Mary continued to read dads paperwork and informed me that he was transferred from the 6th Australian Ordnance Store Company to 21st Australian Field Ordnance Depot at Liverpool on 6 Mar 1943 where he finished his service and was discharged as Medically Unfit on 10 Jan 1944.

Medically Unfit?? Now just what could that mean?  We talked about how best to get more information about this fact.  Mary noted that the records that I had with me were sent from the Central Army Records Office way back in June of 1986, and she thought it would be a good idea to visit the National Archives website to order another copy of Dad’s service record. Mary looked up the National Archives website and found that there was in fact a record for Ronald Norman Di Salvia although it hadn’t been digitised as yet, but that if I applied on line they would send it to me.  She is fairly confident the more recent set of papers will give us much more detail about dad’s service.

I also asked Mary about the War Medal 1939 – 1945 which dad was awarded, but that no family member had ever seen.  Mary showed me the medal in question, which was hanging in the outer office of the sub-branch, and also gave me the website to ask for a review of dad’s entitlements on the ground that he may never have actually been issued the medal.  I must say that looking at the medals hanging on the wall of the office was quite an emotional moment for me and it brought a lump to my throat even though dad never fought overseas.  It would be a real thrill if dad had never actually received his medal and I could secure it for our family, but I honestly believe that the medal has simply been misplaced over the years. Mary also said that Dad may have been entitled to another Medal – the Australian Service Medal 1939-45 – due to his length of service.  Needless to say, the first thing I did when I got home from my visit to the Tamworth Sub Branch was to go online and request a review of his service award entitlements.

WW2_War_Medal 1939-1945
War Medal 1939 – 1945

This is a picture of what the medal would have looked like

Now all I have to do is practice that patience I discovered I don’t have much of.  There will be a three month wait for the army records and a six month wait for information on dad’s medal. Oh Well……………




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