Message in a bottle: Soldier’s plea for help found six months after he disappeared near Gallipolli

A MESSAGE in a bottle that washed up on an Egyptian beach six months after being cast into the sea at Gallipoli is the only clue in the mysterious disappearance of a young Mildura digger.

Private Edgar Robert Colbeck Adams went missing from the AIF’s 8th Batallion on April 25, 1915, the day of the Gallipoli landing, after his battalion was peppered with Turkish machine gun and sniper fire. 

His comrades had assumed the worst – that he was one of almost 600 casualties in the 970-strong 8th Battalion. 

But they may have been wrong. 

Six months after the teenager went missing, the following message, scrawled on a town piece of paper, washed up on the shore of a beach near Alexandria, Egypt: “Am prisoner about two miles from where we landed, between the dried lake and the other – ERC Adams 8.AIF,” the note read. 

How the message made its way from Gallipoli in Turkey’s north-west, across the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, dodging several Greek islands en route, is unclear. 

The note prompted a range of enquiries into the teenager’s status, after it was handed to the Red Cross, but to no avail. 

Islamic Red Cross equivalent, the Red Crescent, which provided information on prisoners of war, informed the AIF there was no record of such a prisoner being held by Turkish Forces. 

An educated guess as to what happened to Pte Adams, offered by one of his comrades, provided little hope. 

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Friday's Sunraysia Daily 25/04/2014.

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