A four-year-old boy has been invited to a Royal Engineers base in Germany after his message in a bottle was found by a soldier training on a river.
Felix Otto Hoeltke was invited to the riverside base of 23 Amphibious Engineer Squadron as a special guest – and even got to drive a boat.
23 Amphibious Engineer Squadron is part of a unique British-German Army unit and specialises in bridging rivers and lakes to help troops and heavy armour across.
In early October, he dropped a letter in a bottle into the River Weser, which was spotted six weeks later by Corporal Luke Crossley from his Combat Support Boat.
"Initially I thought it was just a bit of rubbish," he told Forces News.
"Rather than it being an eyesore, I went and grabbed it to throw it in the bin."
"That’s when I noticed it was a message in a bottle.
"It might just have been a bit of rubbish for all we know but on this occasion, as far as I know, it’s the first time we found one."
The Engineers had to smash the bottle to read the message.
In it, Felix describes himself as a pirate, which is why the Jolly Roger now flies from the Combat Support Boat that found his bottle.
The Royal Engineers were prompt to send a handwritten letter in response.
WO2 'Stubbsy' Stubbs said: "When I was a kid I sent a balloon up into the sky – an A-Team balloon that I got from a fair.
"I wrote my address on it and I got a letter back from an older woman that found the balloon in her garden.
"So, as soon as that came across my desk, I said we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to respond to him.
"We’ve had two blocks of two weeks down here confined to camp due to COVID restrictions.
"Something like this, something from the outside world coming into our environment, it’s a nice little break and it’s a nice little break for the boys as well."