Water Bottle Carrier Returned After 62 Years - Stanley SEATON
PICTURED LEFT: Val Bell (nee Seaton) with her father's waterbottle carrier from World War Two.
Lance Sergeant Stanley Wilfred SEATON was born on the 25th of December, 1901 at Birmingham in England. Exactly 107 years later (to the day) his daughter Val was to receive a very special Christmas gift from her son......it was Stanley's waterbottle carrier from World War Two !!!
Stanley Wilfred SEATON enlisted into the Australian Army on the 25th of May, 1940 at Adelaide in South Australia. He was allocated the Service Number of SX3558 and would serve with the 2nd AIF (Australian Imperial Force) for almost six years; discharging on the 11th of February, 1946. Some time during his service, he was issued with a leather waterbottle carrier of the 1903 Pattern - and this item was stamped with his name and serial number. During his lifetime, one can only assume that neither Stanley - nor any of his descendants - would have guessed that this waterbottle carrier could find it's way back into the hands of the Seaton family; over sixty years later.
As the waterbottle carrier showed considerable signs of service wear, Stanley undoubtably utilised this piece of kit for much of his time in the Australian Army during World War Two. He more than likely surrendered this item back to 'Q' Stores in 1946 upon his discharge from the army and it was later 'sold out of service' to a disposal facility. One can only guess where it ended up after that, but in 2002 it was acquired by the Eurobodalla Lighthorse Troop where it was used during Anzac Day parades. Due to it's unique stampings - identifying the carrier to Stanley Seaton, the Troop President (Royden Reid) decided to list the carrier on the Medals Gone Missing website in the off chance that it's owner may be found.
In November of 2008 - Victor Bell (Val's son) of Reservoir in Victoria performed a random 'Google Search' on his grandfather's name and discovered the listing of Stanley's waterbottle carrier on the Medals Gone Missing website. Understanding the signifcance of this find, he knew that the leather carrier must return to his family and decided to give the item to his mother for Christmas. Contact was made with the Lighthorse Re-enactment Troop who were only too pleased to assist in it's return.
PICTURED RIGHT: Eurobodalla Light Horse Troop President Royden Reid with the waterbottle, prior to forwarding it to the Seaton family.
Royden Reid; who has been collecting Militaria for many years is quoted as saying, "This family is very fortunate to be getting this carrier back. After the war, large quantities of leather equipment were stripped of their brass work for scrap metal and the leather portion either burnt or buried. Alternatively, any leather gear that was sold as Army Surplus - more often than not, ended up in some old shed and simply dried out or rotted over the years. To get something back which was issued to your grandfather during World War Two is extremely rare. It is hard enough finding war medals that have been lost to the family, let alone a piece of kit that your relative carried around in 1942. I am very happy to be able to help these people out and wish that other collectors would do the same".
Victor told Medals Gone Missing - "The reaction from my mother was that she was overcome with emotion.....or should I say.... shock!" And - "She is very happy to have received the water bottle". Victor himself stated to Medals Gone Missing "I appreciate all of the help you are providing in helping us to receive a precious memento of my grandfather's".
So even if a family can account for all of the medals awarded to their forebears, it pays to list their name on the website - in the off chance that some piece of kit comes to light. There is still a great deal of Militaria out there - being bought and sold.....that bears the name or a service number of a veteran. Who knows? It could be your grandfather's waterbottle that pops up next.