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The long trip back home

PROUD: Laurie Pointing and Steven, Ethan and John Waters with the medal belonging to their relative.
PROUD: Laurie Pointing and Steven, Ethan and John Waters with the medal belonging to their relative. Jacob Carson

THE medal itself is elegant in its simplicity, a small silver circle fastened to a ribbon and awarded after the Second World War.

Two red stripes, one khaki, one dark blue, one light.

It belonged to Gympie- born Private Colin Waters, known both as "Teddy” and "Stump”, but the Australia Service Medal disappeared for decades.

That is until it turned up in the most unexpected of places.

"[He] was fearful that he would lose his military medal, so he handed it to Bob Dunbar,” said Laurie Pointing.

Mr Pointing was a friend of Mr Dunbar, who lived with Colin Waters in the early 1960s.

Mr Dunbar moved away to the Northern Territory, becoming quite ill and eventually forgetting any mention of the name "Teddy Waters”.

The final location of the medal too was forgotten.

Colin 'Teddy' Waters' Australia service medal.
Colin "Teddy" Waters' Australia service medal. Jacob Carson

That is until earlier this year, when Mr Pointing visited the Territory, where Mr Dunbar's son had miraculously relocated the medal just a few days prior.

Yesterday, in Gympie, the medal was finally returned to the Waters family.

There they revealed an often tragic account of Teddy Waters' life in and out of the war.

"After enlisting in 1941 in Rockhampton, he was taken a prisoner of war with the fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942,” Mr Pointing said.

"It would appear that apart from the first nine months, he spent the remainder of his service as a prisoner of the Japanese.”

John Waters, Teddy's nephew, recalls a man who carried the scars of war, literal and psychological, for the rest of his life.

"Toward the end of his life in hospital, we were asked if he'd ever been in a car accident before,” he said.

"Because the nurses had taken a look at his back, which had been torn to pieces by the floggings he received as a prisoner.”

John also remembers an avid outdoorsman and animal lover, with a particular affinity for horses.

He passed away on June 20, 1984 and was laid to rest in Gympie Cemetery.

As Laurie handed the medal over to Teddy's great-great nephew Ethan, plans had already been made for the young Waters to march with it pinned to his shirt next Anzac Day.

"It's been misplaced for nearly 55 years,” Mr Pointing said.

"It's just wonderful to be able to finally see the medal returned to his family.”

Topics:  australia service medal gympie history lost war medal war medal wwii

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