William and Beryl were separated as children but never gave hoping on reconciliation. This momentous event took 80 years.
This week’s most touching web story is about 80-year-old siblings reuniting.
This story requires tissues. Many tissues.
ABC News 24’s morning host, Joe O’Brien, cried live on air. The Japanese attacked the sunken SS Iron Crown 100 km off Victoria, Australia, in 1942. The shipwreck killed Frank Stewart, 64, and 38 others. Stewart’s young children, Bill and Beryl, were orphaned after their mother died a few years before.
After his father’s death, Bill went to the Adelaide Boys’ Home and his sister was adopted. This assumption that adopted children needed a “clean break” from their biological homes caused frequent sibling separation. The Daily Mail reported that authorities blocked their communication. We hugged and sobbed. Bill tearfully tells ABC News Australia, “I was told to leave the room and I never saw Beryl again.”
Bill and Beryl dreamed of reuniting. Bill stated, “The orphanage didn’t help us find each other.” I searched for Beryl in Adelaide every year. Beryl said she searched for her brother for years without success.
“I gave searching and started thinking possibly he’s dead,” Beryl told ABC.
Eight decades passed before they reunited. After finding the SS Iron Crown, they reunited to build a memorial. Almost fifty relatives of shipwreck victims attended. Bill contacted distant relative Kylie Watson, who attended the memorial. She was an amateur researcher who found missing family members.
She quickly put an ad in The Advertiser’s Sunday Mail issue to find Beryl, now Beryl Johnson. Beryl called Watson after reading the ad. Beryl cried when she learned her brother was alive.
“I’ve reclaimed my life,” she remarked. William and Beryl met after a brief phone call.
They spent three weeks together after 18 months of terrible separation. They call each other at 8:00 a.m.