Crash site Sir Lowry´s Pass, Western Cape, South Africa
Airline Union Airways
Aircraft De Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth  –  ZS-ACD  –  Springbok    
Route Stamford Hill/Durban  –  Port Elizabeth  –  Cape Town
Crew 1  –  0 survivors
Passengers 2  –  0 survivors


The crash

On Friday 13th November 1931 the plane took off from Port Elizabeth for Cape Town. About 30 miles from Cape Town the plane encountered a terrific gale over Sir Lowry´s Pass. The force of the gale ripped off one of the wings and at 12:55 the plane crashed violently on the slopes of the mountain and burst into flames.


The mail

Early newspaper reports said that all the mail was lost in the crash. But later a few bundles of mail which had escaped the fire were found. These were conveyed to the Central Post Office, Cape Town where the Return Letter Office took care of the around 600 identifiable items. These postal items, all more or less in a charred condition, were then forwarded in a service cover with an explanatory note enclosed. It seems ad if most of the recovered items were returned to the sender and not forwarded to the recipients.

The South African Department of Posts & Telegraphs produced an explanatory note which was enclosed with the forwarded or returned items.
It is mentioned that these notes where made by typing the wording three times on a sheet and then cutting them apart. In one case the year 1931 was typed as 1913.
I have recorded at least 6 different variations of these notes (three with year 1931 and three with year 1913).



Explanatory note.
Size of textblock:  139 x 62 mm.







Explanatory letter.
Size:  195 x 123 mm.
Size of textblock:  137 x 54 mm.

From Return Letter Office
Cape Town 25th November.

Only one example is known.








Examples of mail

Registered cover from South Africa postmarked  PIETERMARITZBURG  11 NOV. 31 to Copenhagen, Denmark. The certificate of posting shows the same postmark.
The badly damaged cover was returned to the sender with an explanatory note type A-d. Enclosed was an approval of stamps for trade.
Thiesen Collection.

Registered cover from South Africa postmarked PORT ELIZABETH  12 NOV 31 and addressed to a stamp collector in Örebro, Sweden.
The cover was returned to the sender by the Returned Letter Office on 25th November in a service cover with the rare explanatory letter type B.
Also shown are correspondence between the sender J.E. Cells and the Post Office.
Enclosed was an approval of stamps for trade ( a few are shown here).
Thiesen Collection.