1950-05-15

Crash site Harstad harbour, Norway 
Airline DNL (Det Norske Luftfartselskap) 
Aircraft Short S.25 Sandringham  –  LN-IAU  –  Bamse Brakar       
Route Oslo/Fornebu  –  Trondheim  –  Bodö  –  Harstad  –  Tromsö 
Crew 7  –  7 survivors 
Passengers 26  –  26 survivors 

 

The crash

The DNL route from Oslo to Kirkenes was only operated during the summer period. The first leg from Oslo to Tromsö was flown with a Short Sandringham while the last leg was flown with a Junkers Ju 52.
On the first northwards trip of the year 1950 “Bamse Brakar” crashed at 15:30 just after take off from Harstad. Both leftside engines stalled just as the plane was a few metres off the water. It tilted to the left and the wing tip and floats hit the water. Both floats and wing were torn off and the plane sank slowly. The rescue team arrived in time to save all 33 on board. The next day a large crane salvaged the wreck.
The possible reason for the crash was lack of fuel supply to the left engines.

 

The mail

The plane carried about 45 mail bags. As this was the first trip of the year there was quite a lot of philatelic mail in addition to the regular commercial mail. Some of the mail bags floated to the surface shortly after the crash, and 8 bags were recovered the first day. As the wreck was salvaged the next days most of the remaining bags were recovered as well. Only three mail bags with mail for Troms and Finmark were lost.
The mail was brought to the post office in Harstad where it was dried and sorted out. The commercial mail was forwarded to the recipients without any markings. The philatelic mail was forwarded to Kirkenes where an arrival postmark was applied before the items were returned to the senders.

The well known Swedish aerophilately collector/dealer Georg Lindman had prepared a large number of covers and cards for this flight – both from Denmark and Norway. All his covers were addressed to Mr. G. Karlsson, Kirkenes, poste restante.
Mr. Lindman requested the post office in Kirkenes to certify each cover with an endorsement referring to the crash. The post office accepted this and applied a green handstamp “Kirkenes postkontor” and a manuscript explanation (see type A).
According to Harmers London auction January 1994 (C. Hardeman Smith Collection) only 40 such items were endorsed by the Postmaster.
All the Lindman cards and covers show an arrival postmark  KIRKENES 19-5-50.

 

 

 

A.19500515-a
Manuscript endorsement.
“Flyhavariet “Bamse Brakar”
i Harstad 15/5 1950.”
+ green handstamp “Kirkenes postkontor”

 

Text translation:
Plane crash “Bamse Brakar”
in Harstad 15/5-1950.
Kirkenes Post Office

 

 

B.19500515-b
Norwegian label.
Primitive printing in violet.
Size: ?

 

Text translation:
SALVAGED AIR MAIL
OSLO KIRKENES
FLIGHT 15 MAY 1950

I have only seen two examples of this label. Both items are philatelic and prepared by a collector named Eliasen from Oslo. My theory is that these labels were produced by Eliasen and attached to his covers when they were returned from Kirkenes.

 

 

 

 

Examples of mail

19500515 015a  

Philatelic cover postmarked OSLO Br. 15.5.50 with missing stamp.The cover was returned to the sender in a service cover with postmark KIRKENES  25 V 50.
Thomassen Collection.

19500515 001a  

Very similar cover from the same correspondence as the above.
Thiesen Collection.

19500515 012a  

Commercial cover metermarked BERGEN 12 5 50 and addressed to Vadsö. The cover is watersoaked and has no crash markings.
Slettebø Collection.

19500515 017a  

Commercial cover postmarked OSLO Br. 13.5.50 and addressed to Vadsö. The cover is watersoaked and one stamp has fallen off but no crash markings.
Thomassen Collection.

19500515 002a 19500515-002b

A Lindman philatelic cover with Norwegian stamps postmarked OSLO BR. I  15 5 50. The cover was returned with postmark KIRKENES 19-5-50 and crash marking type B. Note return address G. Lindeman, Box 193, Stockholm 1.
Thiesen Collection.

19500515 022a  

A Lindman philatelic postal stationery card with Norwegian franking and special postmark FORNEBU SAS-DAGEN 14. MAI 1950. The card was returned with postmark KIRKENES 19-5-50 and crash marking type A. 

19500515 004a  

A Lindman philatelic cover with Danish stamp and special postmark KØBENHAVN LUFTHAVN 14. MAI 1950. The cover was returned with postmark KIRKENES 19-5-50 and crash marking type A.

19500515 010a  

A Lindman philatelic cover with Danish stamps and special postmark KØBENHAVN LUFTHAVN 14. MAI 1950. The cover was returned with postmark KIRKENES 19-5-50 and crash marking type A.
Thomassen Collection.

19500515 011a 19500515 011b

A Lindman philatelic SAS picture postcard with Danish stamp and special postmark KØBENHAVN LUFTHAVN 14. MAI 1950. The card was returned with postmark KIRKENES 19-5-50 and crash marking type A.
Slettebø Collection.

19500515 006a  

Philatelic postal stationery card sent from Oslo postmarked FORNEBU 14. MAI 1950. Returned to the sender as requested with postmark KIRKENES  22 5 50. Attached is a label type B probably privately made.