1937-12-05

Crash site Brindisi, Italy
Airline Imperal Airways
Aircraft Short S.23 Empire Flying Boat – G-ADUZ – Cygnus
Route Karachi – Basra – Brindisi – Southampton
Crew 6 – 5 survivors
Passengers 18 – 17 survivors

 

The crash

The plane took off from Brindisi Harbour in the morning at 08:30. The captain inadvertently set the flaps fully down which caused the aircraft to bounce off the water. It dropped with a splash, bounced up again and after rising 20 to 30 feet, it dropped nose down and the airplane overturned and sank. Later the wreck was salvaged and brought to the quayside at Brindisi to be scrapped.

 

The mail

All the mail consisting of 100 mailbags with a total of around 120.000 postcards and covers was recovered. Some of the mail spent over a week in the water and the condition was much watersoaked, but only a very little portion was undeliverable.
Much of the mail was flown from Brindisi to England by a relief plane. Here the mail was handled at the G.P.O. in London. According to a newspaper notice “All the loose stamps are sent to the Returned Letter Section where they are preserved for 6 months before being sold. Anyone receiving a stamplesss letter marked “Damaged by Sea Water” may apply there for the missing stamp – or one like it”.
Sanford states that “mail to European countries other than England was sent by the Brindisi Post Office to Paris by train, where it was redistributed to the various destinations. Some covers were backstamped “BRINDISI POSTA AEREA”. This is not quite correct. I have recorded 4 covers addressed to Denmark. Two were forwarded via Paris while the other two were forwarded via London.

Many varieties of crash markings has been recorded (handstamps, labels and explanation letters). No Nordic crash markings are known.
I have recorded four Nordic items – all addressed to Denmark.

 

 

Examples of mail

19371205 001a 19371205 001b
Much watersoaked cover from Launceston, Tasmania to Brønshøj, Denmark. The postmark is illegible as stamps were washed off. This cover was forwarded via London. On front there are three different British handstamps and at the back are British resealing labels tied by a handstamp.
Thiesen collection.
19371205 002a 19371205 002b
Cover from Queensland, Australia postmarked “GIN GIN 20 NO 37” to Copenhagen. This cover was forwarded via London. On front there are two British handstamps and at the back are British resealing labels.
Thiesen collection.
19371205 005a 19371205 005b
Cover from Malaya postmarked JOHORE 26 NO 1937 to Odense, Denmark. This cover was forwarded via Paris. On both sides of the cover is a large French handstamp “SERVICE POSTAL FRANCAIS Correspondance retardée par accident d’Avion. Priere de ne pas taxer.” which translates to “French Postal Service Correspondance delayed due to airline accident Please do not tax.”. At the back there are also two French resealing labels.
19371205 008a 19371205 008b
Cover sent from Colombo, Ceylon to Charlottenlund, Denmark. The postmark is illegible as stamps were washed off. This cover was forwarded via Paris. On front is the same French handstamp as above, and at the back there are also two French resealing labels (different type).
Slettebø collection.