World War One’s Sailor’s Letter is Received by Granddaughter… 98 Years Later


A letter sent by a sailor serving in World War One was never sent at the time of its writing, and has been discovered 98 years later behind a fireplace. Dated 1916, it was discovered behind a fireplace in Kirkwall, Orkney, and signed ‘Your Blue Jacket Boy’. Addressed to the serviceman’s family, it was sealed and stamped but never posted.

Staff at Orkney Library hoped to identify the letter writer and launched an appeal on their blog. The hunt spread to Canada, where a distant relative suggested the sailor might be David John Phillips from Llanelli, South Wales. The relative contacted Mary Hodge in Chester, who recognised the writer as her grandfather. Now she is planning a visit to Orkney to collect the letter addressed to her great-grandparents 98 years ago.

Mrs Hodge claimed ‘I knew instantly it was my grandfather – I recognised the name and address. It was a mixture of high emotion, shock and disbelief. Thank goodness for the internet – this letter might never have come home without it. It’s overwhelming to have a piece of my beloved grandfather after all this time.’

During the First World War David ‘Dai’ John Phillips, was stationed in Orkney, serving on HMS Cyclops, a depot and repair ship based at Scapa Flow.