Search on to find “donkeyman” who dropped message in a bottle 46 years ago


A SEARCH has been launched by find the mystery man who dropped a message in a bottle – which has been found 46 years later.

The message from James “Donkeyman” Robertson was found in a glass bottle last week on the island of Norderney off the North Sea coast of Germany.

The discoloured piece of paper reads: “This bottle was thrown over by “Donkeyman” James Robertson. 72 Sleigh Drive Edinburgh on September 19, 1970.”

The bottle itself is branded ‘JAS Dunbar’ – a soft drink company who ran a factory in Albion Road, Edinburgh and located just minutes from where Mr Robertson lived at the time.


The note was found 46 years after it was written


The Donkeyman reference is known as a title given to a person who maintains ship’s engines so Mr Robertson is believed to be working on a vessel in the North Sea at the time.

Pensioner Bernd Igwerks made the discovery on the Frisian island which sits on the fringes of the North Sea.

A social media campaign has been launched online by a “message in a bottle hunter”, Clint Buffington, who is hoping to track down the “Donkeyman” himself or someone who may have known him.

Mr Buffington, 32, said: “A small German newspaper on a small German island ran a one-paragraph story, which seemed ambivalent about the message, even though it was to my mind an incredible discovery and I could not stand idly by.

“I feared the story would die in obscurity, even though it had the potential to be truly amazing – 47-year-old messages in bottles do not surface every day.

“And if I’m not wrong, there’s an interesting story to be heard from James Robertson, if he can be found.”

The discovery comes just two years after another message in a bottle has been found more than 3,000 miles away, 42 years after it was thrown from a fishing boat into the North Sea.

Scottish fisherman John Souter, 68 threw the Hay’s lemonade bottle into the North Sea in 1973 before it was discovered by on a New York beach by a German tourist in 2014.

In January this year a separate message inside a Coca Cola bottle was also found on Hosta beach on the Outer Hebridean island of North Uist after it was launched 15 years ago.

The bottle which was put in the sea in Newfoundland, Canada sparked a transatlantic hunt to track down the owner.

It is still unknown whether the sender was able to be traced.

There was no sign of Mr Robertson or any member of his family at 72 Sleigh Drive today.

Only one resident at the block of six council flats near to Hibs’ Easter Road stadium opened the door.

He said: “I’ve never heard of James Robertson but that sounds amazing.”

In a neighbouring ground floor flat a resident said she had lived there since the 1970s.

She said: “I’ve lived here for almost 40 years and I only really know my daughter who lives next door. People are always moving in and out.”

Another resident on Sleigh drive, who didn’t want to be named, said: “That’s amazing, 46 years at sea and it’s turned up in Germany!”

Resident Donald Robertson shares a surname with the mystery man as well as a career on the seas but insisted he was no relation and had never heard of James Robertson.

He said: “I wish it were me who’d thrown the bottle in, would be great to be involved but I left the navy in 1958 so couldn’t have been me.”

Another resident, who asked to be known only as Mrs Wright, said: “That’s just incredible, we’ve lived here since 1968 but we haven’t heard of him. It turned up in Germany 46 years later? Wow.”