FOUND: Doug Bunting holds a World War II badge that was lost more than 70 years ago.
FOUND: Doug Bunting holds a World War II badge that was lost more than 70 years ago. Alix Sweeney

Heirloom passed to owner's grandson after 70 years lost

WHEN Doug Bunting received a phone message in January this year, the last thing he expected was to be reunited with a long-lost heirloom.

Doug and his wife Mavis have been married for 50 years and live in Kirwan. Doug was an electrician by trade and spent most of his life in Townsville.

His family has a long history in North Queensland, a new piece of which he discovered when a woman named Sandy Gibson, from Bundaberg, reached out to him earlier this year.

"Sandy asked me if I was any relation of Margaret Edith Bunting," Doug said.

"I said: 'Yes, she was my grandmother, but she passed away in 1982'. She was beside herself with joy and said she had something that she would like to return to my family."

Sandy's son Anthony, who lives in Charters Towers, had been fossicking on Towers Hill when he came across an old badge lying loose on the ground. It was dirty but undamaged.

He contacted his mother, a keen historian and researcher.

"The front of the badge was engraved 'To the women of Australia'. And on the rear was a serial number, 67033," Doug said.

Sandy contacted Australian Army Archives and they produced a handwritten spreadsheet showing that the badge was presented to Mrs M E Bunting, whose son Leslie Jack Bunting, Doug's uncle, enlisted in the Australian Army on May 30, 1940.

"Sandy now had a name and assumed that by now Margaret Bunting would be deceased, but had no real idea as to where she may be buried," Doug said.

"Les had enlisted in Feluga and the medal was found at Charters Towers, so she set about by first checking the Charters Towers Cemetery records, which is where she made the final connection."

Eventually Sandy tracked down Doug, and Anthony has since sent him the medal.

"Les married late in life in 1972 and lived the rest of his days working in the Tully region," Doug said.

"Having survived the war, he slipped and fell down a stoned-pitched stormwater drain in his front yard and suffered severe head injuries."

Les's first family home was in Oxford St, just behind the Charters Towers Showgrounds, several miles from Towers Hill.

"How the badge lay undetected for all those years is anyone's guess," Doug said.

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