Belfast Telegraph

US sailor's plea over treasured ring he left adrift in Belfast 50 years ago

By AMANDA FERGUSON

A retired American sailor is hoping to be reunited with the High School ring he swapped for a gold crucifix in Belfast nearly 50 years ago.

Florida-based Thomas Macaulay, originally from New Jersey, would like Belfast Telegraph readers to help him track down the 1961 High School ring he temporarily gifted to a Belfast boy in 1964, when he was aged just 20.

Last night the 69-year-old explained the circumstances of the swap.

"I had been stationed on USS Hunley AS-31 in Holy Loch, Scotland, in 1964 and we weighed anchor and steamed across the Irish Sea to Belfast," Thomas said.

"We docked there, were given liberty and went ashore to the pubs."

On his way back to the ship Thomas met a group of young teenagers, aged around 13 or 14, and got chatting to them.

"I think they were in a Catholic church yard," he said.

"They were so interested in learning about America, we had a very good discussion.

"I was interested in learning about the conflict between Catholics and Protestants and they were interested in hearing about driving cars, guns and the Mafia.

"I had to get back to my ship and they asked me to come back the next day to talk to them.

"I promised I would, they didn't really believe me, so (to show his intention to return) I swapped my High School ring for a crucifix with one of the boys.

"Unfortunately I couldn't get off the ship the next day and shortly after we steamed back to Scotland."

Over the years the ring swap has popped in to Thomas' mind, but it was his 50th High School reunion that got him thinking about what became of his treasured item of jewellery.

"I would dearly love to get it back," he said. "I'm hoping my story jogs someone's memory."

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