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Holy Trinity Church Sunderland.jpg
Holy Trinity Church Sunderland.jpg
UK News

Orphanage choirboy who left note in church pew turned out to be a US naval hero

by Alex Collett

An orphanage choirboy who left a note in a church pew went on to have a successful career as a US naval hero.

A hidden note that was written by William Elliott on August 11 1897, 125 years ago, was found on the back of an order of service at Sunderland's old Holy Trinity Church last month. 

Research by Seventeen Nineteen, part of the Churches Conservation Trust which runs the former church as an event space found that Mr Elliott moved to the US when he was 19 years old and joined the US Navy.

He then started a 42-year career, serving in World War One and later on a variety of navy vessels before retiring in 1939.

He went on to re-enlist when the US joined World War Two and worked as a supply officer, reaching the rank of commander before retiring again after the war.

When William was eight years old, he was put in Sunderland Orphanage Asylum for six years, and during that time wrote the note, which he left in the church.

The note read: "Dear friend, whoever finds this paper think of William Elliott, who had two months, two weeks and four days on 11 of August 1897.

"Whoever you are that finds this paper, don't tear it up or throw it away, keep it in remembrance of me, W. Elliott. I was the leading boy of this choir. 

"I love you if you love me."

Mr Elliot passed away aged 84 in a San Diego rest home in 1968 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC .

This was the final resting place for more than 14,000 US military veterans.

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