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 5 covers addressed to Denmark. Two were forwarded via Paris while the other three were forwarded via London.

Many varieties of crash markings has been recorded (handstamps, labels and explanation letters). I have recorded 7 Nordic items – 5 to Denmark and 2 to Norway.

 

A.
Norwegian handstamp.
Violet.
Size: ?
Translation:
Arrived here damaged.

B.
British handstamp.
Violet.
Size: 33 x 23 mm.

 

 

C.
British handstamp.
Violet.
Size: 62 x 7 mm.

 

D.
British handstamp.
Violet.
Size: 43 x 10 mm.

 

E.
British handstamp.
Violet.
Size: 42 x 21 mm.
Text in French and English.

F.
French handstamp.
Violet.
Size: 68 x 28 mm.
Translation:
FRENCH POSTAL SERVICE
Mail delayed by plane crash.
Please do not tax.

 

G.
French handstamp.
Black.
Size: 52 x 22 mm.
Translation:
Plane Crash
Mail salvaged from sea
DO NOT TAX

 

H.
French handstamp.
Black.
Size: 60 x 11 mm.
Translation:
DAMAGED LETTER
PLANE ACCIDENT

 

I.
Italian label.
Size textblock: 75 x 11 mm.
Translation:
Water soaked letter from flying boat accident on 5 December.

 

J.
British resealing label.
Black text on brown paper.

 

K.
French resealing label.
Black text on transparent paper.

 

 

 

L.
French resealing label.
Black text on transparent paper.

 

 

 

 

 

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. The cover was forwarded with the British handstamps type B and E and resealing label type J tied by handstamp B.
Thiesen Collection.
19371205 002a 19371205 002b
Cover from Queensland, Australia postmarked GIN GIN 20 NO 37 to Copenhagen. This cover was also forwarded via London with British handstamps C and E and resealing label type J on the back.
Thiesen Collection.
Cover from Australia with illegible postmark to Copenhagen. British handstamps type C and D and the usual resealing label on the back.
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 the large French handstamp type F. On the back there are also two French resealing labels type L.
Unknown Collection.
19371205 008a 19371205 008b
Cover sent from Colombo, Ceylon to Charlottenlund, Denmark. The postmark is illegible as stamps were washed off. This cover was also forwarded via Paris. On front is the same French handstamp type F. as above , and on the back there are also two French resealing labels type K  (different type).
Thiesen Collection.
Very unusual Italian service cover used to forward a damaged mail item to Copenhagen, Denmark. On the back is an Italian label type I tied by postmarks BRINDISI POSTA AEREA  20.12.37.
The damaged mail item is unfortunately missing.
Thiesen Collection.
Cover from unknown country as stampa are missing. Forwarded via Paris with handstamp type G.
On the back there are transit postmarks of Marseille and Bourget.
Upon arrival in Norway the small Norwegian handstamp type A was applied together with postmarks dated 16.12.
Unknown Collection.
Cover from Palestine postmarked TEL AVIV and addressed to Oslo, Norway. Forwarded via Paris with French handstamps type G and H and sealed on the back with label type L. Norwegian arrival postmarks dated 16.12.
Unknown Collection.