The family of World War II Veteran William Melling has praised the actions of Hawkesbury police officer Snr Constable Leanne Gearside who went “beyond”her job description in helping them during their grief.
Brenda Melling said the family contacted police when her 97-year-old father’s war medals went missing from his nursing home in North Richmond.
Mr Melling was a merchant seaman, who served with the Royal British Navy during World War II.
He was awarded a clasp for his bravery during a rescue mission on June 7, 1944 – the day after D-Day – where he saved the lives of dozens of his fellow merchant sailors after their supply ship had been hit by a torpedo.
His daughter said her father survived 13 days on a lifeboat off the coast of Africa after the ship had been torpedoed.
Mr Melling relocated to Australia in the 1950s and spent the latter years of his life at a nursing home in North Richmond.
Snr Constable Gearside launched inquiries to locate the missing medals but sadly Mr Melling passed away.
Realising that the medals would not be found before his funeral service, Senior Constable Gearside organised for four replicas to be made so that they could be placed on his coffin.
Ms Melling was touched by the gesture and felt comforted that her father was offered a fitting farewell.
“That made us feel so appreciative of Leanne’s efforts. She did not have to go through all of that, do all of that for us, but she went the extra yard to help our family represent dad in the best way at his funeral, she said.
“She understood what our family had been going through, she understood the emotions that were involved.”
Senior Constable Gearside said she felt honoured to be able to help the family in their time of crisis.
“From what I’ve learnt in my years of service, you never get used to losing a loved one you can only just get through it, so I thought if I can help this family in their time of grief, I was going to try my best to be able to do that.
“I didn’t know this family to start with, but I would do it again and I would do it to anybody if they were needing help,” she said.