Mystery stranger visits dead boy’s grave for over 70 years – then sister reveals his identity

For decades, the idyllic countryside surrounding the Cotswolds has been plagued by a puzzling mystery.

It all started back in 1947, when a 12-year-old boy scout, Karl Smith, drowned in the sea.

The tragedy left a permanent scar on the village and the boy’s parents received hundreds of letters from concerned neighbors.

Karl’s sister Ann was only 7-years-old when her brother died, so she didn’t have many memories of him.

As the years went by, and more of her family departed from the world, Ann continued to visit Karl’s grave.

However, she soon noticed that someone else was visiting the burial site too – someone who left personal gifts on her brother’s headstone.


In the late 1940s, the village of Cheltenham, buried in the heart of the Cotswolds, was shaken.

Boy scout Karl Smith died in a swimming accident while away on a scout trip in Wales, the summer of 1947.

Karl was buried a small way outside Cheltenham, leaving behind a grieving family that included his sister, Ann.

Youtube / BBC

Ann, who was just seven when her brother died, has continued to visit Karl’s grave ever since.

After a while of doing so, however, she noticed that someone else was also paying tribute to him at least a few times a year.

Youtube / BBC

She knew there were no relatives left living who remembered Karl, and yet she would find something different at his grave each time she went.

Once there was a pheasant feather on his headstone, another time there was a sheaf of corn. Other times there were personal messages written down.

The mystery lasted over 70 years.

BBC / Twitter

Despite her unrelenting efforts, Ann was never able to reveal the visitor’s identity.

She published messages in the local newspaper, attended scout meetings and made public appeals … it seemed like this person would never be found.

Was it a former classmate of Karl’s? A family friend perhaps? A childhood pal? Whoever it was, Ann believed Karl had to have made a strong impression on them.

Why else would they continue to visit a tomb every year for 70 years, leaving small gifts each time?

Youtube / BBC

Ann refused to give up and eventually got help on the hunt from journalist Camila Ruz.

Ruz dug a little deeper into clues left behind by the handwritten notes at Karl’s gravesite.

In the video below, Camila returns to a very nervous Ann with news that leaves her speechless…

It turned out that the stranger had far closer ties to Karl than anyone could have imagined…

The person responsible for the gifts at Karl’s grave was Ronald Westborough, from Gloucester. He had been Charles’ closest friend in the scouts.

They had even shared the same tent the night before he died, and it was also Ronald who found Karl face down in the sea.

Take a look at the video below to see the moment Ann finds out who her mystery visitor is. When the two of them meet, it’s a truly unforgettable moment.

What a beautiful and amazing story, even if it does have its foundations in terrible tragedy. It’s so nice that Charles’ childhood friend never forgot about him, and that he and Ann finally found each other after all those years.

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