There will be many stories coming out over the next few years concerning World War I. Sometimes there is a happy ending to a poignant tale.
Readers of this column may remember the one on the ‘Message in a Bottle’, published on October 10.
In case you missed it, this bottle was thrown overboard from the troopship ‘Wiltshire’ by Pte Arthur Swanwick, who was on his way to the battlefields of France in 1916.
The bottle was picked up on a beach at Robe in South Australia by Mr Turner, whose wife Rose wrote to Arthur Swanwick’s sweetheart, Jessie Campbell of King Street, Bendigo enclosing the ‘message in a bottle’.
When the article first appeared, a reader contacted Marie Cartwright of Eaglehawk, who in turn very kindly wrote the following letter to me:
“Arthur Swanwick (Jnr) who wrote the message to his sweetheart Jessie, placed it in a bottle and threw it overboard from the troop carrier on his departure to the battlefields of France, in the hope it would be found and eventually reach Jessie – which it did – was my uncle.
“He enlisted in the Australian Army on the 7th July 1915 and embarked overseas on 7th March 1916. He was badly incapacitated and spent many months recuperating in a UK Military Hospital before he was returned home and discharged, deemed medically unfit. Eventually he resumed employment with Victorian Railways.
“He stayed true to his Jessie and she true to him and they wed in 1918. They made their home in Wills Street, Bendigo where they resided all their married life. Arthur passed away on 11th April 1968 and so completes the story of the ‘Message in the bottle’.”
The image with this article shows Arthur and Jessie on their wedding day in 1918. Thanks to Marie Cartwright for her letter and image used in this article.
November meeting Bendigo Historical Society: Friday, November 1 at Bendigo TAFE Theatrette from 2pm. Speaker is John Neil on the Calder Highway. All welcome, gold coin donation.
Shamrock Tours: Every Sunday at 2pm. Cost is $10, which includes afternoon tea. Book at the Shamrock on 5443 0333.
Bendigo Historical Society: Specimen Cottage, 178 Hargreaves Street; phone 5441 3443 open Tuesday and Thursday 10am to 4pm. Nolan Street Archives, phone 5442 1005, open Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 3pm.
For more information, www.bendigohistory.com