Man searches for friends who helped airmail him home from Australia

Abbianca Makoni
·2-min read
<p>Brian Robson was airmailed from Melbourne, Australia to London.</p> (Getty Images)

Brian Robson was airmailed from Melbourne, Australia to London.

(Getty Images)

A man is searching for two friends who helped airmail him from Melbourne to London more than five decades ago.

Brian Robson, 76, travelled to Australia on an assisted two-year immigration programme when he was a teenager and worked for Victorian Railways.

But he was desperately unhappy but couldn’t afford to fly home as he would have had reimburse the government £800 then buy a plane ticket.

“My salary was about £30 a month so there was no way,” Mr Robson told the BBC.

He managed to convince his two friends, Irishmen Paul and John, to help airmail him home in wooden crate.

The journey was extremely dangerous and left Mr Robson, who was then just 19, needing hospital care.

Mr Robson said it took a week for him to convince his two friends, who both worked at the same company, to help him.

Paul, had access to a typewriter and could do the paperwork to send him as freight, while John would help nail him into the crate.

Eventually they agreed and helped him into the wooden crate that was the size of a small fridge.

Mr Robson brought pillows, a torch, his suitcase and two bottles - one for water, one for urine.

The journey was extremely painful and at one point Mr Robson was left standing on his head for 22 hours in terrible pain and suffering blackouts after workers ignored the crate’s “this side up” label.

His plane was supposed to fly directly to London via Sydney but was diverted on a much slower route through Los Angeles.

“I was in the crate for five days and ended up in a freight shed. I thought I was in London,” Mr Robson said.

Mr Robson was discovered when an American airport worker looked through a hole in the crate and caught his eye.

“He jumped back a mile and said: ‘There’s a body in there,’” Mr Robson said.

After days in the box Mr Robson had frozen stiff and was taken to hospital where he eventually recovered the use of his limbs.

The Americans didn’t press charges and sent him back to London.

“I’ve got no idea what happened to them [Paul and John]. I would love to hear what happened after I left,” Mr Robson said.

“I did try a couple of times, I think, and of course we didn’t have internet in those days, so from that day to this I’ve never spoken to them. They were the last people I spoke to in Australia before the crate was sealed shut.”

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