A Welsh man who tried to 'air-mail' his way home from Australia in 1965 is trying to find the two Irishmen who helped send him off on his incredible journey.
Stuck in Australia without the means to travel home, Brian Robson - then just 19 - decided to travel home in a postal crate.
The plan went quite dramatically wrong, although he luckily managed to survive the continent-hopping ordeal.
56 years later, Brian is still searching for the two friends who helped him out.
He told The Hard Shoulder about a dramatic, dangerous and very memorable trip home.
An adventurous teenager, Brian heard about financial incentives from the Australian government and Victorian Railways for immigrants who wanted to come work in the country.
He didn't give it a second thought, and he was soon jetting towards Australia with a guaranteed job waiting for him.
It was only a few hours into his Australian adventure, however, when he realised it wasn't for him.
He said: “The first day I arrived, I actually phoned the British Consulate in Melbourne and told them I’d made a mistake and wanted to go home.
“When we arrived, it wasn’t like anything anyone was expecting.
"We were put up in a hostel - they called it a hostel, but it was a terrible place… rat-infested. Any ideas we had of settling down there disappeared immediately.”
The problem was that getting home wasn't quite so easy - he'd signed a contract for two years; had no passport (he'd flown over with a temporary travel certificate); and would have to pay back the Australian government for the incentives he'd received.
In total, the return trip would have cost around £800 - something that simply wasn't feasible on a £30 salary.
John and Paul
During his time in Australia, Brian met two Irish men - John and Paul.
He recalled: “I was living in Australia for about seven or eight months, and I bumped into Paul. I immediately recognised his beautiful Irish accent. He said ‘come into the room and meet John’.
“We became instant friends, basically.”
As friends, the trio once joked about air-freighting Brian home - but over time, the Welsh man started taking the idea seriously.
In the end, he decided to push ahead with his outrageous plan: he'd send himself home in a crate purporting to contain a mainframe computer.
He bought a wooden crate, spent a month planning, and his last sight of Australia was John and Paul nailing the crate shut and wishing him good luck.
The journey goes wrong
Inside the crate, Brian had a suitcase, an empty bottle - "for obvious reasons, perhaps" - and a full bottle of water, along with a pillow to make it a 'little bit easier' on his back.
Things started going awry when the crate was turned upside down at Melbourne Airport.
He recalled: "I spent quite a long time sitting on my head.
“I flew from Melbourne to Sydney. The first one was a propellor plane, and it was terribly noisy. Everything happened in complete darkness… on your own. It was quite frightening, to be honest.
“When we got to Sydney, I was supposed to be going on a Qantas airplane to London… which would’ve taken 36 hours. Unfortunately, for some reason… they let me wait 24 hours at Sydney, and they put me on a Pan American airplane - which of course I didn’t know about.
“That went via the States and stopped at every conceivable airport between Sydney and Los Angeles. I didn’t know I was off-route… I didn’t know where I was.
“It was one terrific shambles going through my mind, to say the least.”
There was little time for relief when Brian was finally freed from his uncomfortable temporary home.
He said: “When they got me out of the crate, it was only then I found out I was in the States.
"I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move, none of my muscles would work… there must have been 20-40 people around, including FBI and CIA.”
The Crate Escape
Brian was taken to hospital and recovered, and - over five decades later - is preparing to release a book on his adventure (The Crate Escape) later this month.
However, there's one unresolved chapter of the story.
Brian hasn't spoken to John and Paul since they closed the crate, and all these years later he's keen to make contact.
He sent a letter to their last-known address when he got back to the UK after his adventure, but there was no reply.
He said: “I don’t think that was because they didn’t want to - I’d say it’s because they probably didn’t receive it.
“I tried a couple of times after that as well, but there was no contact.”
Brian would love for John and Paul - or any relatives or friends who might know about their role in the story - to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian assured them that he'll keep their details secret if they don't want to speak publicly about their role in the remarkable 1965 escapade.