Published: 13:50, 05 September 2014 |
Updated: 14:00, 05 September 2014
A former soldier has got his treasured service medal back - 18 years after it was stolen - thanks to a friend who spotted it on eBay.
Lloyd Bettles, 43, was medically discharged from the Army in 1996 after an injury cut his career short.
When his Army backpack was dropped off for him at the Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital, in London, where he was recovering, his medal was missing and he gave up all hope of ever seeing it again.
But the medal then turned up on internet auction site eBay after it was bought by a collector from Chatham at a antiques fair.
It was spotted on the internet by a former colleague of Mr Bettles, who let him know about it and he contacted police in Medway to try to get it back.
After some detective work by PC Suki Attwal, the medal was retrieved from the collector - who had no idea it was stolen - and handed back to Mr Bettles.
Mr Bettles had served as a Guardsman in his early 20s and completed tours of Northern Ireland and Canada having also served in France. He was given a Northern Ireland Scots Guard medal to mark his tours of the country.
The ex-serviceman, who came from his home in Northampton to Medway police station in Gillingham to collect the medal, said: "At the time I was angry the medal had been stolen, but I was relieved to be leaving the Army.
"But over the years it did upset me that I never had it. It was something that showed I was there and served my time.
"My brother and I marched past the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Day last year and I had to wear a replica and I felt like I was a fake.
"I'm pleased now I have it back I can join the march this year and wear the real thing.
"I really am over the moon it's back after all this time - I never thought I would see it again."
PC Attwal said: "It's rewarding to see how happy he is getting it back. The collector was unaware it had been stolen."
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