No More Whisky

Found August 1912, Saint-Brevin-les-Pins, western France.

In a bottle, on Prince Line headed notepaper:

Ship in distress. No more whisky on board. Please refill bottle and return it.

As gleefully recounted by Singapore’s Straits Times, this light-hearted message was “an example of real distress at sea” — just four months after the sinking of the Titanic. It was apparently found by a French bather at Saint-Brevin-les-Pins, near Saint-Nazaire, who summoned a gendarme, then the chief of police, and then the mayor, none of whom could translate it from English. The message was hurriedly carried, by the bather still in his swimming costume, to the mayor’s office, where a traveller’s phrase book failed to help. It was eventually translated by the British vice-consulate. The Prince Line was a major steamship company that had been founded in the north east of England.

[Straits Times, 18 September 1912]

Author: Paul Brown

Writes about football and history. Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard, The Guardian etc. Latest book: The Ruhleben Football Association. Twitter: @paulbrownUK

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