Letter envelope posted in Florida arrives at UK care home 80 years later
An envelope sent by a pilot in the US more than 80 years ago has arrived at a care home in the UK with no letter inside.
Dated 1942, the letter was sent during the Second World War by a British pilot who had been working as a flight instructor in Florida before joining the RAF.
It is thought he was trying to update his mother and father on his life in the US, but what happened to the contents of the envelope remains a mystery, as Royal Mail was unable to provide any answers.
Kevin Beattie, manager of The Sands Meadows care home in Hest Bank, Lancashire, immediately realised it "wasn't your average letter" and said it was something he had "never seen" before.
Intrigued by the old stamp and aged tinge of the paper, Beattie was eager to find out who'd sent the letter and what his story was, and managed to track his family down in Canada after appealing on social media.
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Beattie discovered the letter was from Phillip Tattersall, who had been living in Florida while training for the British Flying Training School.
It is thought Tattersall, who died in 1996, tried to send the letter from the Sunshine State to his parents, Cornelius and Ethel Tattersall, who lived at the property which is now the care home.
After seeing an appeal on social media, Tattersall's daughter Phillipa and granddaughter Tessa contacted Beattie to provide more information his life.
They revealed that when he returned from Florida, Tattersall became a RAF flight lieutenant and later served in northern Germany and flew a fighter bomber.
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The family also said that Tattersall married his wife Ruth, whom he lived with in Morecambe, Lancashire, before emigrating to Canada and having four children.
Phillipa, who lives on an island near Vancouver, Canada, said: "I have been thinking about the power of social media and how quickly information gets passed to all of us.
"Certainly much quicker than that envelope delivered to The Sands Meadow. I recognised my father's handwriting as soon as I saw the envelope."
She added: "The envelope probably contained a letter to update his parents on his life during training in Florida."
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Beattie has tried to contact Royal Mail to find out why the envelope has only been delivered now but said he thinks it had just "fallen through the gaps".
He said: "They were unaware of where it had actually been so whether it has been found behind a desk while cleaning or whether it has just been on a shelf somewhere.
"It has just kind of fallen through the gaps really. They couldn't tell us which depot it had come from either, unfortunately.”
There have been similar examples of decades-old post being delivered in recent years, including one of a letter from 1916 arriving at a flat in London more than 100 years later, much to the surprise of the home's current owner.