Man to meet Irish friend who helped airmail him from Australia

Robson says friend who helped nail him into wooden crate wished to remain anonymous

The Welsh man who airmailed himself from Australia in 1965 has made contact with one of the two Irish men who helped him with his unorthodox journey.

Brian Robson was 19 when two Irish friends helped to nail him into a wooden crate so he could airmail himself from Melbourne to London, cash-on-delivery. He had travelled to Australia on an immigrant programme, but because he was returning home early, he would have had to repay the government for the costs of sending him there, and he could not afford it.

Mr Robson's journey proved hazardous as his crate was diverted to a much slower route than the 36-hour trip he had envisaged. He was in the crate for more than four days when he was detected in Los Angeles. He was flown the rest of the way first class after the story made headlines worldwide.

Mr Robson tried but failed to resume contact with the two friends on his return but after The Irish Times recently reported on his efforts, one of them got in touch. Mr Robson said his friend wished to remain anonymous but he was happy to let people know they had made contact. The Irish man is trying to establish contact with the second man. “We don’t know 100 per cent where he is, to be honest. He could be anywhere,” Mr Robson said.


Mr Robson said it was “really brilliant” to get an email from his old friend. To be certain it was him, he asked three questions, which only he and the other Irish man could have known. “And not only did he answer the three questions, he added more to it. We are still getting on as well as we were 56 years ago, which is nice,” he said.

“He’s a lovely chap and his wife is wonderful. My ultimate aim, when the [Covid-19] virus stops spreading around, is to meet up.”


The Irish man told him he had returned to live in Ireland some years after Mr Robson's journey. He had told his wife, children and grandchildren about his involvement, but they had done their best to keep it quiet.

When the Irish friends heard Mr Robson had been discovered, they changed address, to avoid repercussions. “And so the reason I did not get a reply to my letters is that they didn’t receive them. It was rather pleasing because at one stage I thought they didn’t want to talk to me, but that’s not true at all. Quite the opposite.”

Mr Robson is working with a film production company to tell his story and pre-sales of his book, The Crate Escape, which will be published at the end of April, have rocketed.

Mr Robson said he was completely unprepared for the level of interest in the story and was exhausted. He will turn 76 in June and has some health issues. “To be honest, I’d like it to stop now, the newspapers and interviews, and get back to my normal, boring existence, and perhaps go to the premiere of the movie,” he said.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times