1954-01-10

Crash site Mediterranean sea near Elba, Italy 
Airline BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) 
Aircraft De Havilland Comet 1  –  G-ALYP  –  Yoke Peter
Route Singapore  –  Bangkok  –  Rangoon  –  Karachi  –  Bahrain  –  Beirut  –  Rome  –  London
Crew 6  –  0 survivors
Passengers 29  –  0 survivors 

 

The crash

The plane left Rome/Ciampino airport at 10:31 on a flight to London. Last radio contact was at 10:51 when the plane was approaching a height of 27000 feet. Shortly after that the plane broke into pieces and around 10:00 the plane crashed into the sea 16 km south of Elba.
At 12:50 the Harbour Authority at Portoferraio on the island Elba was informed about the accident. All available boats and aircrafts were despatched to the crash site where debris etc. was salvaged. The search was continued for the two following days where more pieces of wreckage and other articles were recovered and brought into land.
Later the British Navy took over the search and salvage of parts from the wrecked airplane. This continued until the end of August 1954.
The accident report concluded that the cause of the accident was the structural failure of the pressure cabin brought about by fatigue.

 

The mail

The plane carried much mail and a part of this was salvaged. On 11 January the British Postmaster General announced that letters, postcards, printed matters and air parcels, including forces mail, from Malaya, North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak posted on 7.1. and 8.1. were carried on the plane. Mail loaded in Bangkok, Rangoon, Karachi, Bahrain and Beirut may also have been carried.
Most of the mail was for Great Britain and this was processed via the Post Office in London where many different handstamps were used.
It seems as if mail which was salvaged later by the British Navy was forwarded with Italian handstamps – see type B and C.
Only 3 Nordic items from this crash are known. All were addressed to Denmark and were among the mail which was salvaged late.

 

 

A-a.
Danish label.
Size textblock:  99 x 10 mm.

Translation:
Salvaged from the flight accident at Elba on 10/1-1954.
Exchange Post Office 2/7-54.

 

 

A-b.
Danish label.

As above but typing error = 6th letter in Omkarteringspostkontoret

 

B.
Italian handstamp.
Black.
Size:  72 x 8 mm.

Used in combination with C.
Translation: Correspondence recovered after plane crash of

The handstamps B and C were earlier used on mail from the Italy crashes 1954-01-16 and 1954-04-08. Later it can be found on mail from this crash.

 

 

C.
Italian handstamp.
Violet.
Size:  26 x 4 mm.

Used in combination with B.
10 GEN 1954 = 10 JAN 1954.

 

 

 

Examples of mail

Cover from unidentified country addressed to Copenhagen, Denmark. In the upper right corner is part of a postmark “NIGHT POS”. I have seen a postmark “KARACHI BY NIGHT POST OFFICE” so this cover could very well originate from Pakistan.
The cover was forwarded with the Italian handstamps type B and C. In Copenhagen the Danish Post attached a small crash label type A-a dated 2 July 1954 – almost 6 months after the crash. The cover was forwarded in a Danish standard service cover type J. 6 (2-50).
Thiesen Collection.

A rather similar cover sent from The East Asiatic Company in Karachi, Pakistan to Copenhagen. No stamps or postmark are visible. This cover show the Danish crash label variation type A-b.
Thiesen Collection.
19540110 002a 19540110 002b

Postcard from Aden written 3.1.1954 – probably by a Danish sailor on one of the ships of the East Asiatic Company. The postcard was posted from this companys office in Karachi, Pakistan  – metermark dated 8.1.54. The postcard was handled by the Italian Post with handstamps B + C. Card show signs of being in water for quite a long time.
Thiesen Collection.