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The Crate Escape: The Man who Mailed Himself Home

The Crate Escape: The Man who Mailed Himself Home

Brian Robson was 19 and living in Australia. It was 1965 and he was homesick for his home in Wales. But he couldn’t afford the air fare to get him home, so he did the next best thing: he mailed himself home. Now 76, he’s looking for the two Irish men who helped him with his plan.

Robson had gone out to Australia in 1964, where he’d gotten a job with Victorian Railways on an assisted immigration programme. But after 11 months he felt terribly homesick and decided to go home. Problem was he couldn’t afford the air fare – nor did he have the cash to repay the Victorian government they money they’d advanced him as part of the programme. So he bought himself a crate the size of a mini-fridge and convinced two Irish guys to help nail it shut.

“I’m 99 per cent sure that they were called Paul and John,” he told The Irish Times. “I couldn’t even tell you their surnames it’s such a long time ago, and I’d only recognise them if I saw photographs of them that were taken at that time. We got on famously…They used to come to my bedsit, or I would go to see them, almost on a daily basis.”

As for his helping him with his crazy scheme? “Paul really was 100 per cent against it…but John said ‘don’t worry about it, I’ll persuade him.’ And so, they both went ahead and helped.”

The journey home was meant to take 36 days, but four days and a very uncomfortable journey later, the crate was rerouted to Los Angeles, where the FBI had to be convinced that no, he wasn’t a Cold War spy and just a Welsh kid desperate to get home. Luckily the FBI was convinced and they flew him home to Britain…first class.

Now 56 years later, Brian is searching for the mystery Irish men who helped him – ahead of the publication of a book about the adventure which is coming this month.

Can you help Brian identify ‘John’ and ‘Paul’? If so, you can email him at brianpms@hotmail.com.

 

 

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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