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Message in a bottle written by Massachusetts fifth-grader found in France 26 years later

A Frenchman stumbled upon a handwritten message on a bottle that washed up on the beach on the country’s west coast, 26 years after a Massachusetts fifth-grader threw the bottle into the sea.

“It’s crazy to think that it took this long for someone to find it,” Carol Archambeault, an English teacher in the public school district of Sandwich, Massachusetts, told Fox News Digital.

“The bottle is so old that I understand why people are so interested in it,” he added.

The faded letter, addressed “Dear Beachcomber,” was written by Benjamin Lyons, a fifth-grade student at Forestdale School in Sandwich.

The letter, dated October 1997, was written as part of a scientific unit on ocean currents led by Professor Frederic Hemmila.

Hemmila was not immediately available to respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

“It was a culminating activity after studying ocean currents and tides,” said Archambeault, his teaching counterpart. “They were trying to see where the letters would end up, where the currents would take them.”

In the letters, the students provided their names, the date they wrote the letters, and where they attended school in Sandwich.

Hubert Eriau, 71, was collecting trash on a beach when he came across an old bottle that had washed ashore.
WCVB / Quest-France

Lyons, a fifth-grader, wrote that he thanked whoever found him for being “kind enough” to pick up the bottle.

He explained that his class was studying currents and dropped the bottles into Nantucket Sound, hoping that whoever found them could answer some questions.

Hemmila had a friend, Archambeault recalled, who was a sea captain.

Each year, Hemmila’s friend would take the bottles and throw them into the ocean, a practice that was discontinued a few years later so as not to contribute to marine litter, according to Archambeault.

“Now, of course, we know that’s not so environmentally friendly,” Archambeault said.

Frederic J. Hemmila and Carol Archambeault taught together at Forestdale School in Sandwich, Massachusetts, in the 1990s.
Carol Archambeault via FOX News

“But at the time it was a very exciting activity. The children would wait to see if they had any answers,” she added.

In his message in a bottle, Lyons included some questions in case someone eventually found it: “Where did you find the bottle? What condition was it in? Was there anything around the bottle besides water and stones? How did you find?”

Attempts by Fox News Digital to contact Lyons, who was in his 30s at the time, were unsuccessful.

Archambeault said Hemmila and his students did their best to seal the bottles in hopes of reaching distant shores with the letters still intact.

The students sealed the bottles with wax so that if someone found them, the messages written inside would still be intact.
Oakridge School, Sandwich, Massachusetts

“I know that [they] I sealed them with wax so they are in pretty good condition,” Archambeault said.

And he continued: “The one the gentleman found in France was in good condition because no water had entered the bottle in 26 years.”

Last month, a brown package addressed to “Mr. Benjamin Lyons.

This was very disconcerting to school administrators.

“So he came here and our secretaries were looking for him on PowerSchool. [a classroom attendance and management tool]trying to figure out who this kid is,” Brandy Clifford, assistant principal at another local school, Oak Ridge, told Fox News Digital.

Clifford continued: “It arrived via internal office mail. They thought he was a current student, but they didn’t know who he was.”

Puzzled, the administrators decided to open the envelope. Inside they found a note written in French.

In August 2023, 71-year-old fisherman Hubert Eriau was collecting trash on a beach when he found an old bottle that had washed ashore.

He opened it and did exactly what the sender asked.

In the letters, the students provided their names, the date they wrote the letters, and where they attended school in Sandwich.
nito –

“Hello sir, bottle found on a sandy beach in Les Sables-d’Olonne, Vendée, France, on August 19, 2023,” the letter said.

“I was on the beach and as I was walking around picking up trash on the beach, it was like I was there to find the bottle. She had several barnacles collected,” continues Eirau’s letter, which was translated from French to English for Fox News Digital.

The package included a photograph of Eirau and also the original letter from Lyon.

That’s when everyone in the small town of Sandwich started putting it together.

“They were over the top, very excited about it,” Clifford said.

“Once I saw the name, I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ Two days later she was having dinner with her parents.”

Archambeault did not have Lyons in class, but said she taught her sister and brother.

“So I’m familiar with the family,” Archambeault said. “I definitely knew as soon as they said he was Ben Lyons.”

According to Archambeault, messages from Hemmila students have generated pop-ups of enthusiasm over the years.

“It’s been a long time since one was found,” Archambeault said.

“Obviously, many would come to Cape Cod,” he added.

“I know we had several in France, so obviously something in the currents must lead us in that direction. And I’m pretty sure they gave us one back from Greenland. “They have traveled far and the people who find them are very kind and come up and respond.”

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