1943-02-22

‘Crash site Tagus river, Lisbon, Portugal
Airline Pan American Airways
Aircraft Boeing 314  –  NC 18603  –  Yankee Clipper
Route New York  –  Bermuda  –  Horta, Azores  –  Lisbon  –  Foynes, Ireland
Crew 12  –  7 survivors
Passengers 27  –  8 survivors

 

The crash

The flying boat came in for landing at 18:35 – almost 4 hours after the departure from Horta and 15 minutes ahead of the estimated arrival time. Since official sunset was at 18:20 Pan Am’s ground crew at Lisbon had set out as usual a string of landing lights, indicating that the landing was to be made from south to north. On the landing approach the plane made a descending turn to the left and the left wing tip skimmed along the surface of the water, dug in and the plane crashed into the river at 18:47. The wreck remained partially submerged for approximately 10 minutes and then disappeared below the surface of the river. The Pan Am launch, which had been standing by for the landing, proceeded to the scene of the accident and began rescue operations 10 minutes after the crash. The Pan Am launch was joined by a BOAC launch (British) and another Pan Am launch arrived approximately 10 minutes later.

 

The mail

The plane carried 93 bags of mail from North and South America and also some mail from Africa. The mail was destined for various European countries. I have recorded quite much mail for Sweden. As Denmark and Norway were occupied by German forces, not much American mail from this period can be found. The postal connection between Denmark and the United States, South and Central America was closed in December 1941 (after Pearl Harbor). From 3 March 1942 the postal connection with Argentina and Chile reopened. Chile was closed definitively from 19 February 1943 and Argentina from 7 February 1944.

 

Number of items in my records:

From To Denmark  To Sweden
Argentina 2 25 
Belgian Congo    1
Brazil    3
Chile    4
Cuba    1
Guatamala    1
Peru    1
U.S.A.    29
Uruguay    3

The salvaged mail was in watersoaked and damaged condition and were forwarded with a wide range of local markings (handstamps and labels).
From my study it seems as if most of the Swedish mail was forwarded from Portugal to Sweden via England. Many items show British censor labels, but these could very well have been applied at Bermuda where over 1.000 British censors were working. Censor labels from Bermuda should be marked I.C., but many other types of labels were used as well incl. manuscript I.C. A few items were forwarded via the London Office for damaged mail and show one of their handstamps. Some items were forwarded via Germany where they were censored in Berlin (Auslandsbriefprüfstelle Berlin ).

 

The Swedish Post produced a small label which was used on all mail. The Swedish text can be translated to “Enclosed item has been damaged by water in the crash of a Clipper-machine on the Tagus river outside Lisbon on 22 Feb. 1943”. This label was used on all the mail which arrived in the first batch, and which was forwarded from Stockholm on 8.3.1943. Later more batches of mail arrived, and as there were no more labels available a second edition was printed. This label had an extra textline “The stamps have in general fallen off”. These items were forwarded from Stockholm on 14.3., 16.3., 17.3. and 22.3.1943.

 

 

A.19430222 A
Swedish label.
Black printing on white paper.
Size: 37 x 26 mm.

Recorded with postmark:
STOCKHOLM 1  AVG  UTR A  8.3.43.

 

 

B.19430222 B
Swedish label.
Black printing on white paper.
Size: 40 x 30 mm.
As above but extra text at the bottom.

Recorded with postmark:
STOCKHOLM 1  AVG  UTR A  14.3.43  –  22.3.43.

 

 

Service Covers
I have recorded different types of Swedish service covers with mail from this crash. A more detailed study is under way.

 

 

 

Examples of mail

19430222 025a 19430222 025b

Registered cover from Argentina postmarked PARANA 16 NOV 42 to Copenhagen, Denmark. The cover was forwarded from Lisbon on 1 MAR 43 via München, Germany where a resealing label “Amtlich verschlossen!” and a special label were applied. United States and German censorship.
Jakobsen Collection.

19430222 026a 19430222 026b

Registered cover from Cordoba, Argentina with illegible postmark as stamps have fallen off. Addressed to Copenhagen, Denmark. The cover was forwarded from Lisbon on 6 MAR 43 Germany, but no German markings. United States and German censorship and Danish arrival postmark CHARLOTTENLUND 26.3.43.
Jakobsen Collection. 

19430222 001a 19430222 001b

Registered cover from Argentina with illegible postmark of Pueyrredon to Stockholm, Sweden with crash label type A. On the back is transit postmark NEW YORK 27.12.1942 and postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 042a 19430222 042b

Cover from Argentina with unclear postmark to Hakaberg, Sweden with crash label type A. On the back is postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.
Urbak Collection.

19430222 046a 19430222 046d

Registered cover from Argentina postmarked BUENOS AIRES 17 DEC 1942 to Stockholm, Sweden with crash label type A and postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43. On the back are transit postmarks MIAMI 23.12.1942 and NEW YORK 27.12.1942.  The cover was forwarded in a Swedish service cover.
Ekenstierna Collection.

19430222 003a 19430222 003b

Registered cover from Argentina with illegible postmark of Buenos Aires to Jönköping, Sweden. On the front is crash label type B and an oval office handstamp STOCKHOLM 1 AVG. UTR. dated 16.3.43. On the back is transit postmark NEW YORK 29.1.1943.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 061a 19430222 061b

Registered cover from Argentina with illegible postmark to Stockholm, Sweden. On the back is crash label type B. This cover was forwarded via Germany. In the upper right corner is a German handstamp used by the censor office Auslandsbriefprüfstelle Berlin (Ohne Marken eingegangen = Arrived without stamps). On the back is German censorship from Berlin. There is also a postmark of LISBOA CENTRAL 12 MAR 43 which is rather unusual.
Ruud Collection.

19430222 060a 19430222 060b

Registered cover from Argentina with illegible postmark to Stockholm, Sweden. On the back is crash label type B and an oval office handstamp STOCKHOLM 1 dated 22.3.43. This cover was forwarded via Germany. In the upper right corner is a German handstamp used by the censor office Auslandsbriefprüfstelle Berlin (Ohne Marken eingegangen = Arrived without stamps). On the back is German censorship from Berlin. There is also a postmark of LISBOA CENTRAL 6. MAR 43 which is rather unusual.
Vogt Collection.

19430222 062a 19430222 062b

Cover from Argentina with illegible postmark to Åtvidaberg, Sweden. This cover was forwarded via Spain and Germany. In the upper right corner is a German handstamp used by the censor office Auslandsbriefprüfstelle Berlin (Ohne Marken eingegangen = Arrived without stamps). With the cover is a rather strange label with manuscript text in German and a Spanish postmark from MADRID 10.MAR.43. Text translation = Comes from Clipper Yankee which sank in Tajo (Lisboa). There is no Swedish crash label or arrival postmark on this cover.
Sanford Collection.

19430222 010a 19430222 010b

Cover from Belgian Congo postmarked COSTERMANSVILLE 11 2 43 to Odensbacken, Sweden with crash label type A. On the back is a transit postmark LEOPOLDVILLE with unclear date and also the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43. This cover actually crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice. First from Leopoldville to Miami on the PanAm Clipper service FAM 22 and then on board the fatal flight from New York to Europe.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 071a 19430222 071b

Cover from Brazil with metermark RIO DE JANEIRO 10 XII 42 to Stockholm, Sweden. The crash label type A is both on the front and the back. Also on the back is the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.

19430222 004a 19430222 004b

Cover from Brazil with part of postmark dated 31 XII 42 to Stockholm, Sweden. On the front is crash label type A and on the back the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 070a 19430222 070b

Cover from Brazil postmarked 30.1.42 to Stockholm, Sweden. On the back is the crash label type B and also the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 14.3.43.

19430222 002a 19430222 002b

Cover from Chile with part of postmark AERO SANTIAGO to Lindingö, Sweden. On the front is crash label type A and on the back the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 082a 19430222 082b

Cover from Chile postmarked SANTIAGO with unclear date to Stockholm, Sweden. On the front is the crash label type A and the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 14.3.43.

19430222 100a  19430222 100b 

Cover from Havana, Cuba with illegible postmark to Stockholm, Sweden. On the front is crash label type B. On the back is an oval office handstamp STOCKHOLM 1  AVG. UTR. dated 16.3.43 and also a transit postmark NEW YORK 31.1.1943.

19430222 105a 19430222 105b

Cover from Guatamala with missing stamps and postmark addressed to Jönköping, Sweden. On the front is crash label type B, and on the back is the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 14.3.43.

19430222 011a 19430222 011b

Registered cover from Cerro de Pasco, Peru to Stockholm, Sweden with crash label type A. On the back are transit postmarks of LIMA 31.1.43, Miami 4.2.43 and New York 5.2.43. and also the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 006a 19430222 006b

Cover from U.S.A. postmarked TOLEDO  FEB 1 1943 to Stockholm, Sweden. On the back is crash label type A and the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 008a 19430222 008b

Cover from U.S.A. postmarked SACRAMENTO FEB 5 1943 to Stockholm, Sweden. On the back is crash label type A and the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 149a 19430222 149b

Cover from U.S.A. postmarked MINNEAPOLIS  DEC 22 1942 to Malmø, Sweden. On the back is crash label type B and the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 14.3.43.
Slettebø Collection.

19430222 007a 19430222 007c

Cover from U.S.A. with metermark NEW YORK  FEB -4  43 to Stockholm, Sweden. On the back is crash label type B and the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 16.3.43. The cover was forwarded in a Swedish service cover.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 012a 19430222 012b

Cover from U.S.A. postmarked CHICAGO JAN 9 1943 to Gullarp, Osby, Sweden. This cover was forwarded via England with handstamp and resealing label used at the Return Letter Section, London. Swedish crash label type B on the back and also the oval office handstamp STOCKHOLM 1 dated 17 MRS 1943.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 181a 19430222 181b

Cover from U.S.A. postmarked DENVER JAN 17 1943 to Stockholm, Sweden. This cover was forwarded via England with handstamp and resealing label used at the Return Letter Section, London. Note that the Swedish crash label is missing. Perhaps fallen off from the front lower left corner?
Urbak Collection.

19430222 180a 19430222 180b

Cover from U.S.A. with illegible postmark to Malmø, Sweden. This cover was forwarded via England with handstamp and resealing label used at the Return Letter Section, London. Swedish crash label type B on the back and also the oval office handstamp STOCKHOLM 1 dated 17 MRS 1943. The cover was forwarded in a Swedish service cover.

19430222 005a 19430222 005b

Cover from Uruguay with postmark dated 27.OCT.42 to Stockholm, Sweden. On the front is crash label type A and the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.
Thiesen Collection.

19430222 111a 19430222 111b

Registered cover from Uruguay with metermark MONTEVIDEO 21.12.42 to Stockholm, Sweden with crash label type A. On the back are transit postmarks of MIAMI 28.12. and 29.12.1942, NEW YORK 31.12.1942 and also the postmark STOCKHOLM 1 dated 8.3.43.
Sanford Collection.

19430222 110a 19430222 110b

Registered cover from Uruguay postmarked MONTEVIDEO 6 NOV 42 to Stockholm, Sweden. On the back is the crash label type B and an oval office handstamp STOCKHOLM 1  AVG. UTR. dated 22.3.43 and another postmark STOCKHOLM 26  24.3.43. There is also a postmark of LISBOA 6 MAR 43 which is unusual. The cover was forwarded via Germany – German censorship (b = Berlin).