A tantalising mystery about the identity of a Canberra prisoner of war has been solved.
Eight months ago, we published a story about a military identity tag which was found during the renovation of a house in Reid.
Builders were taking the mantel piece off the top of a brick fireplace in Elimatta Street when a small round piece of metal clattered to the floor.
It would have been easy to miss the rusted roundel no bigger than an old penny but the builder spotted it, picked it up, brushed off the the dust and saw the words: McNeill NX52255.
But who was McNeill NX52255?
Every conceivable archive was scoured. It was the identity of a World War Two Australian soldier imprisoned by the Japanese - and that was all that could be discovered.
There was surely a connection to Canberra because the tag was found in the brickwork of a Canberra house.
We had all given up hope of putting a person to the name after so long.
But his grand-daughter has now come forward and said it was Andrew McNeill who lived at the house where the dog tag was found.
Toni McNeill saw the article after these eight long months and went to the building site and was handed the piece of metal. Through luck and hard work, the band of family history detectives who had been on the case had finally shown the granddaughter the article.
It's a piece of my grandfather. That dog tag would have hung around his neck and against his chest the whole time he was a prisoner of war.Toni McNeill
And she is delighted. It has prompted a flood of memories about the man she knew and loved but who died when she was only nine.
"It's a piece of my grandfather," she said. "That dog tag would have hung around his neck and against his chest the whole time he was a prisoner of war."
The mystery man, Andrew McNeill, was a prisoner of war of the Japanese on the terrible Burma railway but, according to his granddaughter, never talked about it. "He and I were very close," Toni McNeill said.
Her grandfather and grandmother slept in separate rooms in the house on Elimatta Street because he had nightmares about his time in captivity.
He would wake up, thinking his wife was a guard so the couple moved to separate rooms.
The granddaughter remembers getting up in the darkness at five o'clock in the morning and going down the corridor and snuggling up to her grandfather.
"He taught me to love test cricket, too," she said. She would sit at his feet and watch the black and white television with the sound turned off.
The commentary would come from the radio.
The sleuthing was started by Peter Conway who owned the house where the dog-tag was found.
He delved deep, partly because his own father fought the same fight as the mysterious owner of the dog-tag and ended up as a prisoner of the Japanese building the Burma railway.
Mr Conway discovered that Andrew McNeill was a Canberra meter reader who enlisted on July 2, 1940 and was discharged on January 31, 1946.
He had been in the army for 2,040 days of which 1,733 days were on active war duty.
His grandchildren are very proud.