Message in a bottle returns to writer's family after 76 years

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PERTH, Australia — A note in a bottle washed ashore more than 76 years after it was cast into the water has been reunited with the family of the man who wrote it.

In November, Geoff Flood was walking along Ninety Mile Beach in New Zealand when he stumbled across something unusual: a bottle. Inside the glass was a piece of paper.bearing the letterhead of P&O, as well as a ship's name, SS Strathnaver.

"As I picked it up and started looking, I could see it was an old envelope with P&O on it and I thought this might be something special," Flood told local media. "There was a bit of mad panic to carefully extract it. I carefully cut a couple of bits of wire and quietly wound it up with the bits of wire so we didn't damage it.

He the note had been written March 17, but no year had been specified.

The note read:

"At sea. Would the finder of this bottle kindly forward this note, where found, date, to under mentioned address. H. E. Hillbrick, 72, Richmond Street, Leederville, Western Australia."

Flood tracked down the address, but learned the note's author, Herbert Ernest Hillbrick, died in 1940.

The man reached out to Hillbrook's grandson, who lives in Perth, Australia.

The grandson confirmed that Hillbrook had been aboard the SS Strathnaver, which belonged to the shipping company P&O, in 1936.

Hillbrook's grandson said the bottle and its message were the only ties he had to the grandfather he never met.

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Celeste Tholen Rosenlof


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