17 April, 2015. 15:15
J.P ELLIOT | Far North Queensland | [email protected]
Decorated RAAF veteran Clive Bushnell has been reunited with his World War 2 service medals after a successful bidding war on the internet based auction house Ebay.
Mr Bushnell says he accidentally stumbled them while researching “how to get service medals replaced”.
The medals, which include a Commendation for Distinguished Service, have been missing since the early eighties after Mr Bushnell was the victim of a home burglary while living on the Gold Coast.
The 91-year-old returned servicemen and retired fireman who now lives in the Queensland town of Greenvale, enlisted the financial aid of a close family friend, and the help of his great-grandson to walk him through the online bidding process.
It took weeks to outbid several Australian and foreign collectors, but Mr Bushnell was able to win back his beloved service medals.
“I thought they’d gone forever”, Mr Bushnell said.
“My great-grandson, who normally just sits around doing nothing, was actually a great help.”
While the original theft of the precious items remains a mystery, Ebay seller “RamBot69” claimed legal ownership having picked them up from Gumtree for an undisclosed sum.
“I was honestly going to toss the medals out with my weight bench, a cracked fishtank, and other assorted junk” RAmBot99 said in an email to The Advocate.
“Lucky for us both, the old bloke made contact in the nick of time.”
Despite the validity of his claim, the war veteran and internet “newb” was not immediately reunited with his possessions. “The seller refused to return them, without some form of payment” Mr Bushnell said.
“He has to make a living too I suppose. Times are tough”
It was a tense few days after the initial contact was made with the seller, as Mr Bushnell and his extended family watched as the bidding increased significantly on the extremely rare awards of distinguished service.
“It was an expensive and anxious process, but in a way I was proud that there was such demand for the medals my country had bestowed on me.”
Mr Bushnell admitted his close relatives had developed a much greater interest in his military awards since the valuable Ebay discovery was made.
“Now that I’ve got these medals back, I have no idea what will happen to them after I die,” Mr Bushnell said
War medals are reportedly quickly outpacing the typical collectors items of previous generations such as trading cards, Pokemon and rare postage stamps. Foreign investors as far away as the Middle East and throughout Asia have also developed a taste for Australian Service Medals, while a strong domestic market is growing here in Australia.
“They could always try and earn them themselves,” Mr Bushnell said of the young generation of internet based entrepreneurs who are reportedly trading significant volumes of war memorabilia. “An actual career of military service is a great honour.”
Mr Bushnell admitted he now saw his great-grandsons generation in a whole new light.
“I personally spend hours surfing the webernet (internet)”, said Mr Bushnell.
“For someone my age, it’s harmless. But I do think it could be a very, very dangerous pastime for teenagers. They just believe everything they see and spend their money on pointless stuff”