Recollections from WIlliam Skeel
Serving as a section Cpl with 40 Postal Unit RE in 1960, part of my job was receipt/dispatch of the surface mail parcels and AO.
One morning, I set off with a crew of Sappers and drove to 79 Water Transport Unit RASC in Shamshipo to pick up a landing craft (Most cargo boats would tie up in the outer roads of the harbour). The vessel I was making for was the MV Swabinstien of the Haburgh America Line. After about one hour we made sight of her. After boarding I found the 2nd Officer that was responsible for the mail.
Proceeding down into the bowls of the vessel to the mail locker, the mail was loaded into a cargo net, as this was happening, I checked all the bags and kept count of them. I realised that one parcel bag was missing.
Returning to 40 Postal Unit RE at Chatem Road, I reported to Capt L Drapper RE that I was one parcel short. All mail bags were checked and confirmed that this was right. The next morning I checked with the GPO to see if they had it, but the answer was no. My next option was to return to the Swabinstein and check the mail in the locker and surrounding areas.
Seven months later the Swabinstien returned to Hong Kong. Again I went out to the vessel to collect the mail. While counting the mail bags I found that I was one bag over on the parcel bags. The mail was checked in at 40 Postal Unit and found to be one over on the parcel bags. This bag was soon identified as the missing bag from the Swabinstein’s last visit to Hong Kong.
Opening this bag it was found to contain one parcel addressed to – Guess Who?
Cpl W Skeel