“SAFE HAND” DELIVERY – A LOST WEDDING RING TRAVELS AROUND THE WORLD

By Sgt. Ed Cunningham

YANK Staff Correspondent

CALCUTTA, INDIA—In the spring of 1943, Lt. Patrick J. McFaul received a letter from his wife in New Orleans, La., telling him that she had lost her wedding ring.

The lieutenant bought another right away and sent it back from India by “safe hand,” giving it to Lt. Raymond J. Flannagan of New York City, a ferry pilot returning to the States.



wwii CBI air transport commmand himalayas wedding

A C46 Commando of the Air Transport Command flies the “Hump” over the Himalaya mountains.

Several months passed, but Mrs. McFaul didn’t receive the ring, and by September her husband was convinced that it had been lost. He bought another ring, air-mailing it home; it reached Mrs. McFaul in 10 days.

Then, in February 1944, 10 months after her husband had sent it to her by “safe hand,” Mrs. McFaul received the first ring with a letter explaining the delay.

Lt. Flannagan was shot down over North Africa on his return trip to the States, when enemy fighter planes attacked his B-17. He reached civilization 33 days later. The only personal article he had saved was the ring.

Then he was laid up in a North African hospital with an attack of malaria and decided to give the ring to another ferry pilot en route to the States, with instructions to mail it to Mrs. McFaul as soon as he arrived.

Somewhere over the South Atlantic, the second “safe hand” pilot’s plane was forced down. When a passing boat picked him up several days later, all he had left was a pair of pants—and Mrs. McFaul’s wedding ring. But he had lost the McFaul address, so he didn’t know where to mail the ring.

In February the “safe hand” messengers met accidentally in San Antonio, Tex., and Lt. Flannagan sent the ring to Mrs. McFaul. Now she has two wedding rings, but only one husband—and he’s still 12,000 miles away.

For More Reading on WWII Check Out:

Flying the Hump: Memories of an Air War

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Flying the Hump: In World War II Color




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