Siblings separated 80 years have an emotional reunion thanks to the discovery of a lost ship


Sometimes, relics of the past become keys to the future.Off the coast of Victoria’s south coast, about 100 kilometers away from the shore, a ship endured barnacles and the battering waves.The ship, SS Iron Crown, was attacked in June of 1942 and was sunk by a Japanese submarine.

For years, it had remained forgotten but the memories of that day lingered in two siblings.Bill and Beryl Stewart sat anxiously in the orphanage that fateful day.Having lost their mom years before the they were sent to the institution when their father had to serve.

SS Iron Crown sank with their father on the vessel. At that moment, their lives changed forever.

They were separated after Beryl got adopted.It was believed back then that some adoptees needed a “clean break” so they had to be taken away from any known and remaining relatives. That included her brother Bill.


Bill meanwhile was sent to a Boys’ Home in Adelaide. Bill shared with ABC news of the day they said their last goodbyes. The memory was still fresh and it hurt him as much as the day he did so.

“The two of us put our arms around each other and cried our eyes out. I was told to leave the room and I never saw Beryl again.” He said to ABC.

Bill then moved to Sydney while Beryl stayed in Adelaide.They both went on with their lives but there was no day that they never thought of each other. Bill said that he went back to Adelaide every year just to look for his sister. He was also frustrated and disappointed that the orphanage can’t help them.


In Adelaide, meanwhile, Beryl also tried for years but her efforts were in vain. She started to think that maybe Bill was dead, but in her heart, she knew they will be reunited.

Then, a serendipitous event occurred.In April of 2019, a CSIRO research vessel discovered SS Iron Crown’s remains. According to the manifest, there were 43 crew members in the freighter of which only 5 survived.


The archaeologists at CSIRO said that the discovery can help heal the wounds of those the sailors left behind. It was an opportunity for the siblings to reunite. The ship that tore their family apart became the key that will bring them back together.

Bill attended the memorial and was connected with Kylie Watson.She is a distant relative and an amateur researcher for people looking for family members. She immediately searched for Beryl by digging up old newspaper clippings.

When she determined that Beryl was still in Adelaide, she sent out an ad to look for her. Beryl saw the ad and came forward.


Beryl called Bill.The siblings have since reunited and needless to say, the encounter consisted less of words and more of tears. Finally, after decades of being apart, they no longer had to live life alone.

“I love him dearly, and it’s been a miracle as far as I’m concerned that we found one another after nearly 80 years,” Beryl said to ABC.

It will be the first Christmas they’ll celebrate together.

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