Figure 1. Thought to be unique survivor from City of Washington crash
Imperial Airways IW81 service, on the Delhi-London route, saw City of Washington crash at Neufchatel on 30 Oct 1930, while trying to land after developing engine trouble. Figure 1 is believed to be the only survivor of this event originating in Australia. It commenced its journey at North Brighton on 8 Oct 1930, transited Australia east to west via Adelaide-Perth domestic airmail service, thence carried by ship to India to join the airmail service ex Delhi, which departed 21 Oct. The rate of 11d comprises 2d letter rate + 3d domestic airmail + 6d Delhi-London airmail service. The article arrived in London in somewhat bruised condition, unsurprisingly given its dilemma, and was repaired by the British P.O. Estimate : $1000
Figure 2. Not out of place in a regional Postal history collection?
The Post Office staff at Port Douglas thought I was some kind of wizard when I recently showed off Figure 2. Apparently sent from one of the local hotels (there is a Foster's Export Lager Beer label on reverse!) on 17 Jan 1935 to U.K., I was able to return this item to Port Douglas (via eBay) some 77 years after it originally left town. It features here as it would have been sent south to Brisbane and loaded to Imperial/QANTAS service IW308, departing 23 Jan. Owing to adverse weather, Helena, servicing the Karachi-Alexandria leg, force-landed at Cairo on 3 Feb, and the mail load was transferred by rail to Alexandria. A nice item for a regional Postal history as much as it is for an Aerophilately incidents collection. Estimate : $200
Figure 3. Engine trouble necessitates mail load transfer
Figure 3 is an uprated Stationery 1½d postal card, bearing a 9d Kangaroo, sent from Sydney to U.K. 12 Aug 1935. The rate for an airmail postcard was then 9d only, so the sender has ignored the 1½d postal validity of the stationery item. This item was loaded to Imperial/QANTAS service IW366, departing Brisbane 14 Aug. Hanno, servicing the Karachi-Sharjah leg, developed engine trouble at Sharjah on 21 Aug, and the mail load was transferred to Horsa, which departed for Baghdad two days later. Estimate : $150
Figure 4. Missed flight a philatelic blessing
Always nice to have a higher denomination Kangaroo on an article involved in an airmail related incident. Figure 4 would not have been in this category were it not for the fact that Imperial/QANTAS IW426 service, which departed Brisbane 11 Mar 1936, was delayed arriving at Karachi, and the service went on to London without the mail load gathered further east. The mail was subsequently transferred to IW427, and that's were matters get interesting. The City of Swanage, flying the Alexandria-Brindisi leg, developed engine trouble and force-landed in the sea enroute to Athens. Much of the value of this item lay in the scarce franking of Kangaroo 10/- + 5/-, which paid the 1/6d ½oz. airmail rate x10 (i.e. for 4½-5ozs.). Estimate : $2500
Figure 5. Scipio survivor to less usual destination
The Scipio crash is one of the more often seen "crash" covers; 38 bags of mail destined for U.K. and places east thereof were recovered. Most of the mail survivors seen were to U.K. addresses. Figure 5 is unusual in that it is to Germany, and bears the French inscribed label explaining the event. Scipio crashed while landing in bad weather at Mirabella. The recovered mail was largely sent to Brindisi by ship. Estimate : $400
Figure 6. Forced landing at Rhodes
The 1/6d Hermes is such a common franking to U.K. (it was intended for the ½oz. airmail rate) it's a pleasure to find one which was involved in an incident, as a redeeming feature. Figure 6, from Brisbane on 22 Sep 1936, was loaded on to Imperial/Qantas IW482 service, which departed Brisbane the following day. On 4 Oct City of Stonehaven force-landed at Rhodes. Estimate : $150
Figure 7. Another forced landing, at Raj Samand
Another forced-landing, on this occasion near Jodhpur, India, came about when Caledonia, flying the Calcutta-Jodhpur leg of Imperial/QANTAS IW643, developed engine trouble. Figure 7 commenced the journey in Melbourne 8 Apr 1938, destined for Germany. Estimate : $200
Figure 8. Idyllic location for unscheduled stop
Figure 8 was on Imperial/QANTAS SW69 service, flying from Coogee to U.K. at the reduced 5d "all-up" airmail rate, when Centaurus force-landed at Lake Biguglia, Corsica, the charming French island in the Mediterranean Sea. Estimate : $200
Figure 9. Passengers and crew OK, shame about the mail
Figure 9 is one of the more dramatic, and desirable, of Australian "crash" covers. Only two examples of mail from this incident have been recorded. On 28 Dec 1941 the westbound KLM service, being operated by Douglas DC-3, arrived at Medan, Dutch East Indies, and was due to leave the following morning. The passengers and crew had disembarked, but the mail remained on board. An attack on the airfield by Japanese fighter aircraft late on the 28th caused the aircraft to catch fire. The plane was destroyed, but fortunately there were no casualties. Estimate : $4000
Figure 10. Near enough not good enough
Figure 10 may be a great rarity, or not. Registered at Winchelsea 20 Dec 1941, the article arrived in Melbourne the following day, under normal circumstances in time to be dispatched to Sydney to join Imperial WS151 service, which departed for Durban, via the wartime Horseshoe route, on 24 Dec. The article, however, was censored at Mebourne, which is where we cannot be certain it was processed in time (Censoring could cause an indeterminate delay) to make the Sydney departure time. In the absence of confirming backstamps further along in the journey, we cannot be 100% certain of the allocation to this flight, which crashed at Subaga 28 Dec. Potentially a great item, but near enough is not good enough, unfortunately. Perhaps someday I'll be able to confirm the flight allocation?
Figure 11. New discovery is first of its kind
Philatelists love "finds", and I'm no exception. Figure 11 is from a major incident, the first recorded which originated in Australia, and worthy of inclusion in The Australian Air Mail Catalogue. British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines (BCPA) Flight 304/44, a Douglas DC-6, on a flight from Sydney to Vancouver, with scheduled stops at Nadi, Canton Island, Honolulu, and San Francisco, crashed during its initial approach towards San Francisco International Airport on October 29, 1953, killing all 19 people on board. The article received the "RECOVERED AFTER/AIR ACCIDENT" handstamp at San Francisco. Estimate : $2000
Figure 12. 7/6d block of three: record franking for this issue
Off topic, but no off item, Figure 12 has returned to Australia recently; a response to the June column, where I featured Australian high denomination frankings. A gentleman in the U.K. kindly took the trouble to send me a scan of this great item, and transfer of ownership was inevitable. It will be a feature in my upcoming exhibit of the Navigator series, 1963-66. A nice note upon which to complete this month's column.