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All the Boys Merry

Found 5 November 1914, Brightstone, Isle of Wight.

In a bottle, on two sides of a piece of paper:

Sunday, September 10th.
From some boys of the Warwicks off for the final at Berlin. Signed T.H. Rafferty, J.H. Scott, S. Rollins, S.W. Owen, T.C.L. Rosser, T. Hubball, and B. Rawlins.
All the boys merry under strenuous conditions. Hope the finder is O.K. Write to wife and baby.
Mrs Rafferty, 8, Hailliley Street, Handsworth.

The 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment sailed from Southampton to Boulogne on board the SS Caledonia on 22 September 1914. Thomas Henry Rafferty, the writer of this message, was a tramway worker from Handsworth, Birmingham. He was married with a daughter. He was killed in action at Ypres on 25 April 1915. His body was never found.

[Birmingham Mail, 21 November 1914]


A Harbour I Will Never See

Found February 1865, near Silloth, Solway Firth, Cumbria.

In a bottle:

My dear wife — My vessel, the Caledonia brig, of Belfast, is about to go down. I am running her for the Isle of Man; but a harbour I will never see. My men are all reconciled to their Heavenly Father’s will. My dear wife, I am leaving you in sore distress, with a heavy charge, but I know that the Lord will fulfil his promises to you; you have long sought Him. I have my Shipwrecked Mariners’ Fund cards all with me. I now leave you, my dear wife and children, to the Lord. Them that find this letter hoping they will send it to Belfast to the News-Letter Office. — John Nisbett.

A year later, at a meeting of the Shipwrecked Mariner’s Society in Belfast, it was announced that, “a widow named Nisbett, residing in Belfast, whose husband was a subscriber to the society, obtained relief for herself and children to the amount of £13 9s 3d, and will have a small grant annually while the children are unable to provide for themselves.” Mrs Nisbett had provided the Society with her husband’s letter as proof of his death.

[Belfast News-Letter, 27 February 1865 and Londonderry Standard, 17 February 1866]