Yamatji woman Elvie Garlett says she doesn’t know how her father’s war medals ended up on eBay but is begging for their return to her family in Western Australia.
Mrs Garlett’s father, Alfred ‘Jack’ Mallard was a decorated Indigenous soldier who fought in the Second World War. Mr Mallard served three years with the Australian Army as a light houseman.
Mr Mallard was awarded five medals for his contribution to his country; 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, War Medal 1939-45, ASM 1939-45, ASM 1945-75 Clasp SW Pacific, and the Return from Active Service Badge.
Sadly, Mr Mallard died many years ago, when his youngest daughter Elvie Garlett was only eight years old, she told NITV News her dad’s medals and photos are all she has left of him.
“He wasn’t recognised as an Australian citizen, he wasn’t recognised as a person…but he still went off and fought for his country and he was very proud of that,” Mrs Garlett said.
On Monday, Mrs Garlett’s found out her dad’s medals were being sold on eBay.
“My heart just sunk,” said Mrs Garlett.
“My son said, ‘no I will contact the seller, I’ll contact the seller and see what I can do’, and he was even willing [to] contact the buyer, but the seller said he already sold them and the transaction had been finalised and there was nothing he could do,” she said.
Mrs Garlett’s son then offered the seller $800, more than double what the medals sold for, on the condition the seller proved his identity.
According to Mrs Garlett, the seller refused to provide sufficient details, so the family refused to transfer the money, concerned they were being scammed.
The family then told the eBay seller they could arrange a face-to-face exchange with other family members on the east coast, where the seller lives, but again the seller declined.
“They [the medals] mean everything, what you see on this table, that photo and this file, is what I have left of my dads. I have nothing else of my dads and my dad earned those medals,” Mrs Garlett told NITV News.
“It’s not like he won them in the lottery. He was willing to sacrifice his life for those medals, they mean everything to us,” she said.
NITV News spoke to the eBay seller who confirmed they had recently sold Mr Mallard’s medals to a family member.
“They went to Mr Mallard’s great-nephew. This gentleman had researched the family and the military history in regards to the Mallards,” the seller said.
Mrs Garlett said she doesn’t know of the family member and has never heard of them before.
“In some ways, I wish I didn’t know they were on eBay because when I didn’t know that they were out there they didn’t mean anything, it was like they were just lost," Mrs Garlett said.
"Now that I know they’re out there, they mean everything to this family and I just want them back. I want them to come home to his family.”
WA Police told NITV News in a statement that they have been contacted by the Garlett family and are investigating the matter.
A spokesperson for the Department of Defence told NITV News it is uncommon for war medals to end up online.
"The department does not have a dedicated team who track online sales of war medals. However, Defence issues duplicates of medals in some circumstances where the medals have been lost or stolen. These are issued with an engraved ‘D’ to differentiate them from the original set," the statement said.