March 28, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz ….

I am sure most of us have watched “The Great Escape”, where Steve McQueen made it out of the German prison camp, against all odds, during the second world war. Even those who have not watched it, I am sure, will have heard of this world class movie.

The reason why “The Great Escape” came to my mind, is that recently I came across a real life drama, where a young Welshman had posted himself from Australia to London, in a “wooden crate”, as a cargo. The event took place way back in 1965, where 19 year old Brian Robson, a Welshman, travelled as “cargo”, inside a small wooden box.

In short, the boy had gone to Australia to work there under a sponsored scheme of the Australian government, but he did not like the work and residential environment, so he had decided to go back home. However, under the scheme, he would have to pay back to the Australian government, all the expenses paid. Unfortunately he did not have sufficient money to pay. So he found  the way to go back home without paying all this.

He came up with the idea of locking himself inside a wooden crate to be sent as cargo with the help of his two friends, who nailed the crate and handed it over to the couriers. However, due to some problems, he was loaded on a Pan-Am flight for USA, instead of London via Qantas. It took him five terrible days, locked inside a wooden crate, to reach Los Angeles.

The story is a hit recently on social and in print media as, at the age of 75, Brian Robson is searching for his two friends in Australia who had nailed his “crate” and took it to the cargo office.

Reading all details of this adventure, I really feel very thrilled, thinking how a young boy could constantly keep his legs stuck up to his chest, inside a wooden box 30 x 26 x 38 for such a long period of time. I simply cannot even think of what might have passed through his mind, during such a long period of time, all locked up in the dark. Not only just that, as mentioned in a report, at first his crate was put upside down while waiting to be loaded in the plane. It’s really difficult to comprehend how did a teenager bear all this ordeal for such a long period of time.

I wonder what his two friends in Australia had thought after handing over their friend at Melbourne airport, inside the wooden crate. Interestingly, putting myself in place of them, I think that under those particular circumstances, even if they might have received the news that their friend was put in the cargo section of the Pan Am flight bound for Los Angeles, they would have found themselves unable to do anything at all. But the interesting point is that those two friends perhaps never heard of their friend becoming a scoop in the American and British press.

What I understand from all this is that there are some situations where one person takes unorthodox sorts of decisions, and takes all risks, just to achieve the set goal. Indeed the young boy had taken a great risk. If not he and his next generation would have perhaps now been living in Australia, for over half a century. But if that was the case, we would not be having the story of “The Crate Escape”.


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