Korean War medal finds its way home

Badly dilapidated old car in garage

In the early 1990s, Andrew Gorry bought a 1964 Holden EH sedan, which spent the next thirty years sitting in a shed. Recently, Andrew sold the car to a friend of his, Craig Mclean, who started stripping the car back with a view to restoring it. When Craig pulled out the back seat, he came across a large, thankfully derelict, wasps’ nest. Just before throwing it in the bin, he noticed something stuck in it. Breaking the nest apart, he found a Korean War medal, specifically the United Nations Service Medal (Korea). The medal was inscribed with ‘E J Cross’ and a service number.

Craig returned the medal to Andrew who in turn gave it to his sister-in-law, Sandra Gorry, whose father was Eric Cross.

Sandra was thrilled. ‘This means more to my brothers and sisters than you could ever know,’ she said.

Eric James Cross, known as Jim, was born in Newcastle NSW on 2 November 1926 and grew up in Bulahdelah, NSW. He was the seventh child of John H Cross and Clara Mayers, a Worimi woman. Clara passed away in 1928 at age 37, leaving behind her seven children who were aged between 18 months and 17 years. The four youngest children, which included Jim, were fostered to a local family.

Medal without a ribbon on someone's hand

During the Second World War, Jim volunteered for the Australian Military Forces (the militia). He also served in the Korean War with the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

Jim went on to marry and have seven children, including Sandra. However, he left his family when Sandra was three and she did not meet him again until she was 12. She never knew about her father’s parents or siblings before he passed away in 1992.

Sandra’s sister Wendy Moore has spent a lot of time researching her father and his family and was surprised to learn about her extended family. Clara, Jim’s mother, was buried in the same plot as her brother George, but there was no mention of Clara on the headstone. Last year, Wendy had a plaque made for Clara with the words, ‘Your grandchildren came to find you’.

How Jim’s Korean War medal found its way into the Holden may never be known. Sandra believes Jim may have travelled in the car to an Anzac Day march with the original owner, Fritz Kruger, and that the medal simply fell off.

Wendy spent this Anzac Day at Bulahdelah, proudly wearing the precious medal and commemorating the service of her father and the sacrifice of our Anzacs.

For more, see the ABC website.

The United Nations Service Medal (Korea) is awarded to those members who were posted for any period with the United Nations (UN) forces in Korea between 27 June 1950 and 27 July 1954. The medal is a circular medal of bronze alloy. The obverse depicts the ‘World-in-a Wreath’ emblem of the UN and the reverse has the inscription: ‘FOR SERVICE IN DEFENCE OF THE PRINCIPLES OF THE CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS’. More information is available on the Department of Defence website.
Older man at desk in his house
Studio shot of medal with Korea marked on it, and blue and white striped ribbon

The United Nations Service Medal (Korea)