MALCOLM CAMPBELL CRAIG – Medal found in Kaitangata returned to CRAIG family in Auckland.

10/1457 – MALCOLM CAMPBELL CRAIG    

In August this year I received a post “Comment” from a viewer of the Medals Reunited NZ website, something I do not check often as it is usually nothing but spam and records of hacking attempts.  However, I check anyway and in sorting through the list came across a comment posted by Sarah B. of Kaitangata, South Otago.  She said that whilst sorting through her father’s belongings after he had died earlier in the year, she had found along with her father’s WW2 medals, a WW1 medal.  She had no clue to any link her father or the family had with the name inscribed on the medal – 10/1457 CPL M.C. GRAIG, NZEF – could we help to find family to return it to? 

I responded to Sarah as I do to the many similar email request for information that I receive , which is – I will usually only research a medal to find a descendant if we have it in our possession. 

There are two reasons for this:  it ensures any medal we have researched (often at considerable expense) will be handed over to the family or descendant when we find someone.  To research on trust and then have the medal custodian decide to with-hold the medals (as has happened) can leave us very embarrassed and our credibility and integrity in question.  

The other reason is that if we do not hand the medal to the recipient family, we have no opportunity to gain publicity to promote our work.  With that, I put Sarah’s request aside until such time as she had decided whether or not to entrust us with the custody of the medal.  The medal did not arrive so I did not give it another thought.

In late November I was retracing some of my archived records and again came across Sarah’s post to me.  Alarm bells immediately rang – CRAIG – I had seen this name earlier in the year and which had been the subject of a reunited medal.  As it happened I had had the pleasure to reunite the British War Medal of Alexander Westwood Craig with his descendant family, Barry and Julie Craig.  I recalled there were several of Alexander’s family members who had had WW1 service – a quick check of my records and sure enough, Malcolm Campbell Craig was listed as one of the four Craig brothers who had WW1 service – William Westwood Craig (also served in the South African [Boer] War), Duncan Hill Craig (WIA, Gallipoli) and Alexander Westwood Craig being the other three.  After connecting the dots, I immediately emailed Sarah B. and Barry & Julie with the good news.  

Malcolm Craig was a cook at the Rutland Hotel in Wanganui at the time he enlisted for service with the Wellington Infantry Battalion, 3rd Reinforcements, in December 1914.  Previously he had served as a part-time military reservist with the Native Rifles and the Auckland Corps.  Due to his work as  a cook at the Rutland, he was quickly promoted to Cpl. Cook and posted to the Mounted Field Ambulance, the same unit Malcolm’s brother William Westwood Craig also served with before going to the Western Front.  Cpl. Craig served for a total of 3 years 195 days throughout Egypt and the Suez.   He returned to NZ relatively unscathed apart from enduring the usual rigors of primitive living conditions in the field and disease.

After the war, Malcolm became a chicken farmer in preferring to remain unmarried and act as the guardian and protector of his remaining family members, particularly his mother Flora, and his eldest brother William’s wife and young family (William Craig died of chronic TB in the Christchurch Military Sanitorium in 1921, Duncan Craig of pneumonia in 1937, and Alexander Craig in 1957.

Julie relates that Malcolm would never watch any movies or TV to do with war such was the impact on him, saying WW1 was “Hell on Earth”.  As a chicken farmer, Malcolm would supply Ethel with endless chickens and as a result Barry’s father, Bruce Westwood Craig never ate chicken once he left home as he had so much of it as a child !  On one occasion Malcolm had gone out hunting and brought home some venison.  His young niece Flora thought it smelled dreadful and so buried it the garden.  Malcolm found out and dug it up, washed it, and cooked it – the children all thought it was wonderful. Testament no doubt to Malcolm’s culinary skills honed during the war in the deserts of Egypt and Suez.  Malcolm died in Dunedin in July 1968 aged 82 years.

Sarah B. has been in touch with the Craig family and today I received advice from Julie that they now have the 1914-15 Star awarded to Cpl. Malcolm Campbell Craig which will join the others of his brothers.  The search will continue for those medals still missing.

Many thanks to Sarah B. for contacting MRNZ and her wish to have the medal returned. and to Julie & Barry for their continued support of our work.

The reunited medal tally is now 30.

Malcolm Campbell Craig 002 - CopyMalcolm Campbell Craig 001 - CopyMalcolm Campbell Craig

Speak Your Mind

*