A Welshman who sent himself home by airmail from Australia hopes to find two Irish men who helped his daring escape.
In 1965, at the age of 19, Brian Robson, from Cardiff, was unable to afford the plane ticket to travel from Melbourne back to London.
He had been on an assisted immigration program with the Victorian Railways, but became incredibly homesick.
In a desperate plan to avoid paying the plane ticket, he nailed himself into a wooden box with the help of two friends named John and Paul. Now 76 years old, Mr. Robson is looking for the two Irish men who helped him on his dangerous expedition.
Mr. Robson nearly died on the attempt after the trip was rerouted via Los Angeles.
In 1965, 19-year-old Brian Robson, from Cardiff, was unable to afford the plane ticket to travel from Melbourne back to his home in the UK.
Mr. Robson pictured above at the age of 76. He documented his journey in a book, The Crate Escape
The teenager had taken a job with Victorian Railways on a guided immigration program in Australia, but found himself deeply homesick and longing to go home to London.
His travel expenses were covered by the Australian government.
Mr Robson would have had to pay around £ 800 to pay them back and finance his way home, which was impossible with his £ 30 a month salary.
‘It would have taken me years to earn the rate home. Then I decided I would send myself home in a crate and turned to John and Paul for help, ”he said.
The two men worked for the same company and went to school together in Ireland.
Mr. Robson doesn’t remember where they came from or what their last name is.
He needed their help because Paul had access to a typewriter to do the paperwork to ship him as freight. It took a week to convince his friends who doubted the idea.
“John was with me the whole time, but Paul didn’t want to do it at all,” said Mr. Robson.
The journey turned out to be more dangerous than expected. After arriving in Sydney from Melbourne, Mr. Robson had to wait 24 hours for his journey to be diverted via Los Angeles.
The plan was to return Mr Robson with a smuggled hammer to an address in the UK.
He would then push his way out of the crate at Heathrow, jump over the airport gate and flee back to his family in Cardiff.
The box was just big enough for the teenager to squat in it. He took laxatives three days beforehand to make sure he didn’t have to go to the bathroom in the crate.
When it was time to leave, Mr. Robson stepped into the coffin and his Irish friends nailed the top.
The journey turned out to be more dangerous than expected. After arriving in Sydney from Melbourne, Mr. Robson had to wait 24 hours in storage.
The Qantas flight from Melbourne to Heathrow was full, and the crate containing the teenager was instead loaded onto a Pan Am flight to Los Angeles.
“As far as I knew, I was on a Qantas plane bound for Europe,” he said.
The teen grew weaker as the days went on. ‘I was in the crate for five days and ended up in a freight shed. I thought I was in London, ”he said.
Stiff and limping, hom-sick Welshman Brian Robson, 19, who tried to send himself back to Cardiff from Australia, is pictured at London Airport after being crated for 96 hours.
He had become too weak to break out of the box with a hammer. Fortunately, his rescue came when two freight workers noticed his torchlight coming from the box.
One of the startled workers shouted, “There’s a body in there!”
The workers raised the alarm.
Mr. Robson, frozen hard in the confined space, was rushed to hospital where he recovered for five days.
He spent a total of 96 hours in the coffin.
When he was strong enough, he was interviewed by both the CIA and the FBI, who feared he was a spy.
Finally, the FBI chief arranged for him to fly back to the UK.
He documented his journey in a book, The Crate Escape, which will be released at the end of the month.
Mr Robson would now like to be reunited with his two Irish friends who helped him on his journey and says he hopes he can ‘buy them a drink’.
“If I were to meet them again, I’d say I’m sorry I got them into this and missed them when I got back,” he said.
“I’d like to buy them a drink.”