History Matters || Reunited with war medals

In January 2000 Greystanes man Bob Howitt had his collection of eight medals from his 22 years in the Navy, plus those from Malay and Vietnam campaigns, stolen along with a set of miniature medals awarded to his father Arthur (Scottie) Howitt who served in New Guinea and the South Pacific during World War II.

Luckily the originals of the miniatures were still in Glen Innes with his mother Alma.

Other items to disappear in the robbery included electrical goods.TV set, video, stereo, and a gold watch. His house was damaged as well.

To a distraught Bob those medals "meant a hell of a lot', had enormous sentimental value and he felt as they were engraved with his and his father's names, they could not be sold, but may be damaged.

After renovating he sold that house with so many bad memories and moved away.

This month, more than 21 years later, Bill of Blacksmith's (a coastal suburb of Lake Macquarie) was cleaning out an old caravan in his mother's backyard when he came across service medals and other related items.

Bill at first assumed that they had belonged to this late step-father, however, on closer inspection he realised they weren't and needed to be returned to their rightful owner.

He told the story to one of his neighbours, Julia, and she promptly offered her assistance to help locate this "Scottie".

She said they first contacted the sub-branch of the RSL down Greystanes way where a terrific bloke by the name of Frank Vella was happy to help.

From there they searched the Australian War Memorial database which had on record, Robert Bruce Howitt born in Glen Innes.

They found a lead online via The Land of the Beardies Museum in Glen Innes and talked to a researcher.

They found a lead online via The Land of the Beardies Museum in Glen Innes and talked to a researcher.

The Howitt family are well-known in the town- the late Arthur and Alma once ran a cordial factory and Arthur also better known as 'Scottie' was an accomplished player of the bagpipes.

With extended family still here, a niece knew where to find Bob and it was an easy search from there.

Soon an ecstatic Bob and his medals were reunited.

A heart-warming story of people thinking of others bringing a bit of sunshine into our day, in this often-selfish Covid time.

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