Public plea to solve Anzac 'message in bottle' mystery

Seven News viewers have been asked to help solve a 100-year-old Anzac love letter mystery.

Rick Cove discovered a faded note inside a book he bought from a market stall in Tyabb in 1999.

"I took the book of the shelf and an envelope fell out," he told Seven News reporter Nick McCallum .

Inside the envelope was a national treasure, which sparked a lengthy search for its author and owner.

'Dear Birdie, I am writing you a note and putting it in a bottle and then I'm going to throw it overboard to see if it ever reaches you," the author wrote.

Written by a digger, presumably heading to Gallipoli, a bottle containing the letter was thrown overboard off Western Australia from the troop vessel Hoorata, which left Melbourne 100 years ago this weekend.

"This will be a memento should you ever get it," the letter said.

"There was so much history in that letter that it blew me away," Rick said. "I almost welled up. I was really quite overcome."

Mystery surrounds Anzac letter found at a Tyabb market 15 years ago. Photo: 7News

It was addressed to a 'Miss A Bird in Bendigo' and signed 'love from Billy', but contained few further clues.

The post marks suggest it was found on a beach and sent to the Bendigo building in 1914, but many questions still remain unanswered.

"Who was Miss A Bird? Who was Billy? Did he survive World War I? We don't know," Rick said.

Visitors to Rick's private museum are intrigued by this mysterious piece of history.

"It's so romantic," one visitor said. "It's got that lovely touch to it. To finish the story off would be really, really good."

Rick has spent 15 years searching for concrete clues.

Now the centenary of the departure is so close, he has enlisted high-powered help to track down the descendants of the young lovers.

Owner of mystery letter could be William Darwin or William Hayes, both Bendigo Gallipoli veterans.

From troop ship passenger records, Anzac Centenary Chief Ted Baillieu believes 'Billy' may be William Darwin or William Hayes, both Bendigo Gallipoli veterans.

He is appealing for public help to identify 'Billie and Birdie'.

"A Bendigo couple perhaps, love interests perhaps," Mr Baillieu said. "It would be wonderful to find out."