In 1943, Royal Navy Bill Caldwell wrote a postcard to his uncle Fred, enclosed it in an envelope with a picture, and instructed the Royal Mail to “post early in the day.”
77 years and 7 months later, and that same postcard has finally arrived at the Liverpool doorstep of his family home to the shock and delight of his children.
The Royal Mail admitted they hadn’t the faintest idea of why it took so long for delivery, but posited that perhaps it had been found and reposted by someone.
Having joined on to train with the HMS Raleigh stationed at Torpoint, Cornwall, Caldwell’s first message back from the military was simple, and typical of a man who his children remember as someone who didn’t ever send letters or postcards.
“Well I am in blue at last. I did not think it would be like this—you don’t get much time for yourself, do you?
“But I like it alright.
“I will write a letter to you all when I get half a chance so will you hold on a bit? I have 19 weeks here yet.
“Give my love to everyone. Love, Bill.”
The most surreal thing
Caldwell would go on to man a minesweeper during the D-Day landings, travel all over the Pacific, visit Japan, and carry prisoners of war back to Australia. His naval career concluded with four medals.
“It was the most surreal thing on a Friday night to suddenly read a postcard that dad had written 77 years ago when he was training to be a sailor in the Navy,” his daughter Joanna Creamer told the BBC.
None of his six children live in the family home, but a distant relative, the stepson of their cousin Dan—Caldwell’s nephew, does. It was this stepson who alerted Dan, who sent a picture of the postcard to one of the children, Jane, who shared it in a family WhatsApp group.
Another of Caldwell’s daughters, 58-year-old Elizabeth, said, according to Yahoo!, “It’s a crazy story and it’s hard to believe. My mum wrote letters and postcards but Dad never wrote. To actually see his handwriting was beautiful.”
“He had such an impact on us and our kids he was such a great role model,” Elizabeth added. “Mum wrote on his gravestone ‘A Liverpool gentleman’ and that’s what he was. He would give anyone the time of day and that’s why it’s so magical to get this glimpse of him.”