Photograph [Stan White and Geoff Ledden]; Sharp, Nicole (for the Southland Times...


Photograph [Stan White and Geoff Ledden]

About this object

A coloured photograph of Stanley White (left) and Geoffrey Ledden meeting in February 2014 (credit Southland Times). Here's the remarkable back story.

As a teenager, Stan worked at the Freezing Works during World War Two. One of his jobs was to pack lamb livers in billy tins. The liver billies were then frozen and exported to England. For fun, Stan added a note with his address saying 'please write to me'.

Aubrey Ledden was a Sanitary Officer in Essex and found one of Stan's notes when inspecting a consignment. Aubrey loved the ‘message in a bottle’ and wrote back to Stan. They became pen pals for a number of years. Aubrey’s family especially liked Stan’s food parcels. Aubrey’s letters are a fascinating description of life in England during and after World War Two.

While digitising our collection in mid 2013 we put Aubrey’s letters online. Five months later Aubrey’s son, Geoff (who lives in England) found the letters and emailed us:

‘I’m writing to tell you about the most amazing discovery that we have just made. I was stunned to discover that you have a collection of seven letters written by my father to Stanley White in Mataura between 1943 and 1948. I have just spent time downloading and reading this correspondence, a very emotional experience as my father died in 1968 when I was living in Italy and, unfortunately, all his papers were destroyed….the correspondence is full of the most fascinating information for me and our family.

My sister, Violet Bridson, will be as thrilled as I am at the discovery of these letters and we cannot thank you enough for preserving them and making them available online. It is the most exciting and emotional discovery that I have come across in 14 years of family history research.’

Stan is now in his 80s and lives in Main Street, Mataura. Geoff traveled to New Zealand in February 2014 to meet Stan and celebrate their unique story. This photograph was taken soon after they met.

Place Made

New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Mataura


Sharp, Nicole (for the Southland Times)

Maker Role


Date Made


Inscription and Marks




digital copy


photograph, colour

Object Type


Subject and Association Keywords

industry/mataura freezing works

Subject and Association Keywords


Medium and Materials

digital copy

Credit Line

From the collection of the Mataura and Districts Historical Society Incorporated

Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

This object is from