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Message in a bottle thrown from Palace Pier sparks international mystery
When a young couple threw a message in a bottle off Palace Pier, they soon forgot all about it.
Little did they know their romantic act would spark a continental codebreaking mystery.
Thomas Allen and girlfriend Sonia Dubruc have become minor celebrities in France after their message washed up on a Normandy beach in June.
Inside, they had written about Brighton’s “eerily calm sea” and “seagulls flying in hazy skies”.
Forgotten Thomas, 24, said: “After we threw the bottle off the pier in May, we largely forgot about it to be honest.
“We half expected it to wash up in Hove, so we put Sonia’s mum’s address in Canada rather than our own.”
Months passed, and the couple heard nothing.
But on July 1, Sonia’s mother in Canada had a phone call with a faraway-sounding voice on the other end.
The bottle had crossed the Channel in just three weeks, washing up on Omaha beach in Normandy.
However, the address had been damaged by the sun and sea, and was barely readable.
But that wasn’t enough to deter the French.
A mini-frenzy ensued with experts queuing up to try and decipher the smudged address with local newspapers eagerly following developments.
Thomas said: “They called on writing and decoding experts from the Cultural Services of Ville de Bayeux.
“They had the director of the museum on the case and they even had professional decrypters from the police.
“Eventually they cracked it and they gave Sonia’s mum a call, and that’s when we heard about it.
“We couldn’t believe what had happened – the amount of effort they’d gone to was incredible.”
Thomas and Sonia have been invited over to the French town of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont today where they will be guests of honour at a special ceremony attended by the mayor.
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