Author of message in a bottle written more than half a century ago has been found

After more than 50 years, the English author of a message in a bottle which recently washed up on the South Australian coast has been found.

In an interview for ABC radio, Aussie man Paul Elliot and his son Jyah said they found the bottle recently while fishing on the Eyre Peninsula’s west coast.

Paul said he was searching for the author of the message, Paul Gilmore, who, in the note, described himself as a 13-year-old English boy traveling along the southern Australian coast from Fremantle to Melbourne by ship.

The message is dated 17 November 1969 and was handwritten on paper with Sitmar Line’s company name at the top.

In the note, young Paul says he is traveling on board the Fairstar, a ship that brought many British migrants to Australia during the 60s under the assisted passage scheme.

He urges whoever finds the bottle to reply to him and gives a Melbourne address for correspondence.

Last Thursday, the ABC reported that it had tracked down Annie Crossland, Paul’s sister.

“It’s amazing, absolutely incredible,” she told ABC. “He’ll be chuffed to bits.”

Annie added that her brother was currently on a cruise in the Baltic Sea.

“The last time he was on a ship was probably going to Australia. Cruises aren’t his thing,” she said.

Annie who was alongside her brother when he was on board the ship recalled seeing him writing letters and dropping them into bottles. He had dropped about six into the ocean.

The bottle was reportedly dropped towards the end of the journey between Fremantle and Melbourne, the ABC said.

Paul’s brother, David said he was amazed when ABC showed him the letter.

“I’m looking at the message now and yeah, I can see it’s my brother’s writing — he’s obviously a bit younger then,” he said.

Their family lived in Australia until 1973, after which they returned to the United Kingdom.

Oceanographer David Griffin said that the bottle may have been buried on a beach for years, and then resurfaced due to a storm.

“If it had been dropped in anywhere in the ocean somewhere south of Australia, then there’s no way it’s going to stay actually at sea moving around for more than a year or two,” he said.

In 2018, Tonya Illman, a West Australian woman, found what is considered the world’s oldest message in a bottle.

She found the 132-year-old gin bottle in the dunes near Wedge Island. Inside, Tonya found a roll of paper dated to 12 June 1886 and printed in German. The information was authenticated by the Western Australian Museum.

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