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30 December 2014

Message in a bottle discovered in Wreck Bay.

“On our way to South Africa to participate in the fighting there”.
I recently came across this little story in the Shoalhaven News and South Coast Advertiser Saturday 23rd June 1900.

A sea message from B.Squadron of the Imperial Bushman’s Contingent on board the Armenian was picked up by Mr. Christian Elmos, of Sussex Inlet, St St Georges Basin, on the 13th instant, in wreck bay. It was enclosed in a bottle, and although water had obliterated some of the writing the following could be readily deciphered.
'” Bass Straight, April 26, onboard the troopship Armenian. On our way to South Africa to participate in the fighting there. All are in good health, and we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We wish those that pick this up long life and prosperity. Signed by troopers, P.J.S. Ryan, Tom W. Cressy, W.Wright, T.A Rushton, and R.G, Blackbutt (sergent), and H.H Dolman (corporal).”

The Armenian left Sydney on the evening of April 24, and arrived at Beira, South Africa, on May 17.

REF: https://anmm.wordpress.com/tag/ww1/

The bottle message was thrown over in Bass Straight on the 26th.
By that date the Armenian would be well in the straight on her way to Albany, her first port of call from here.
As a fact the steamer passed Gabo Island at 9.30pm on the 25th, and at 10 minutes past 7 next morning (the 26th, date of message) reported at Wilsons Promontory.

The bottle travels 330 miles before being cast ashore at Wreck Bay.

The finding of the message has thus a special interest aside from which appertains to it’s contents, in that it proves the direction of the current at that particular time of year – a direction which in this instance disproves the somewhat commonly accepted belief that the current along this coast close in shore invariably runs to the southward. Assuming that the message was floated from the Armenian at 7 am. on the 26th, it travelled approximately 180 miles nearly due east, to Gabo Island, then turned N.by E. and came up the coast 150 miles before being cast on the shore of wreck bay.

Colonel_Mackay These men were heading to South Africa to fight in the Boar War -1899 - 1902


  • Original strength: 762
  • Subunits: six mounted rifle squadrons
  • Commanding officers: Colonel J. A. K. Mackay, then Lieutenant-Colonel H. Le Mesurier
  • Left for South Africa: 23 April 1900 on Armenian
  • Service: May 1900 - May 1901 in Rhodesia under Carington and west Transvaal including capture of de la Rey’s convoy and guns at Wildfontein (24 March 1901)
  • Fatal casualties: 13 killed or died of wounds, nine died of disease
  • Decorations: one CB (Mackay), four DSOs (H. H. Browne, R. D. Doyle, W. E. O’Brien. K. Wray), one DCM (P. J. Moy)
  • Returned to Australia: 17 July 1901 on Orient
  • Useful sources: regimental order books (State Records NSW, 4/7649-51), Mackay papers and H. S. Targett papers (Australian War Memorial, PR87/207 and PR88/171)

    REF: http://www.bwm.org.au/site/Contingents.asp
  • The Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser (NSW : 1891 - 1937), Saturday 23 June 1900,
    page National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article135728081

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