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Canada/Covers & Postmarks : Crash Covers

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pigdoc
07 Aug 2018
08:17:49pm
Searched the Discussion topics, and didn't find one focused on this area of postal history.

Clipper Mail has been a fascinating area to me for years. Combines with another passion I have, airplanes. And, it has many VERY intriguing tie ins to WWII and even some clandestine activities associated with the war.

So, I'm going to kick it off with a BANG, quite literally:

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This is a censored Clipper crash cover from one of the most disastrous Clipper incidents - the crash of the Yankee Clipper upon arrival in Lisbon, as she dipped a wing in the water on her approach at twilight, on February 22, 1943, killing 24 of 39 aboard.

The Yankee Clipper inaugurated Atlantic airmail service - the southern route, terminating in Lisbon, on May 20, 1939.

This cover itself was mailed from a commercial firm in Caracas, Venezeula to Nottingham, England. The surname of the sender, Benacerraf, is the same as a prominent business entity. Apparently sent to another business entity - I can read "& Co., Ltd." There are traces of purple ink from the mimeographed enclosure, with a few readable words transferred to the inside of the envelope, indicating that it was in English. I haven't yet studied the censorship system for mail in these channels in detail, but I believe it was censored in the Caribbean (Port Au Prince? San Juan?). It is known that this flight did carry South American mail to Europe.

It bears a mark in the lower right:

DAMAGED BY
SEA WATER

Since the stamp is not tied, I am somewhat suspicious of its provenance, especially since it's still well-adhered to the envelope. On the other hand, it has picked up creases of the envelope, so it was probably wet at the same time the envelope was. There does appear to be remnants of gum from another missing stamp to the right of the block. Anybody know what the correct rate might have been?

This cover also illustrates the 'alternative world' of condition as it relates to postal history, in comparison to stamp collecting. It's tattered, stained, unreadable cancel, shabby, dirty, creased, scuffed, faded, envelope coming unglued...and yet, it's a highly collectable item of history. Even the stamp itself is secondary, one of the lower valued in this series of 35, albeit a nicely centered block of 4 in a nice color...

Let the fun begin!
-Paul



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Bobstamp
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07 Aug 2018
10:47:21pm
re: Crash Covers

I was looking at a crash cover at a stamp show once, and observed, speaking to the dealer, that it didn't have a lot of damage. It was from a crash of the KLM DC-2, the Uiver, which crashed and burned in the Syrian Desert on its maiden commercial flight in 1934. Much of the "event" mail that the Uiver was carrying was burned. "Here," the dealer said, whipping out a lighter, "I can fix that!"

Uiver covers weren't marked as crash covers; they are identified by the cachet (my understanding is that Uiver means "Stork" in Old Dutch, generally sell in the range of $60-$150, but ones that were damaged slightly or not at all are sometimes offered for sale for as little as $12 or $15 because the dealers don't know about their provenance.

Here's the first Uiver cover I obtained. Note the damage from water (the plane crashed in a storm) and fire.

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Here's an undamaged Uiver cover:

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I am endlessly fascinated by plane crashes, since I survived one myself.

Bob


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pigdoc
15 Jan 2019
09:35:35am
re: Crash Covers

Changed the subject from "Clipper Mail" to "Crash Covers", because we needed a thread on that topic! Not sure how this ended up in "Canada", perhaps moderator can change it to "General Philatelic"? (Thanks).

Here's one I just scored, for a measly $8:

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(No markings on reverse.)

I was able to 'expertise' this one before bidding, using my 'new' American Air Mail Society Catalog, 6th edition. Quoting:

December 22 - ALHAMBRA, CALIFORNIA - 2:40AM - WESTERN AIR EXPRESS - CAM-4. Salt Lake City to San Diego. Pilot Howard B. Cox's plane developed engine trouble and crashed in landing. 575 lbs. of mail, burned or water-soaked, was salvaged. A 2-line cachet was applied in purple or red at Los Angeles. (Image of cachet matches cover.) Value is given at $45 (1998).

The National City Company was founded in 1845 in Cleveland and was once one of the ten largest banks in the US. James Hilary Finn was a writer. He wrote the story for the movie The Lawyer's Secret (1931, Paramount Pictures), which starred Fay Wray, among others. The address is probably Finn's residence, 7 miles south of Paramount's studios. One must presume that the contents of this letter referred to that work, in some way...

Who's next?
-Paul

PS, am LOVING the AAMS Catalog! I've spent many hours in it in the week I've had it! Paid $50 for the 3-volume set, like new. There is a 7th edition current...

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Benque
15 Jan 2019
11:55:06am
re: Crash Covers

Hi folks,
On the subject of crash covers, the image below is of a cover from my Grandfather's collection. To or from my Uncle who was stationed in India at the time, with the RCAF (45 sqd. I believe...from another airgram)
Would anyone know how I could obtain any more info about the cover, such as aircraft involved, location, etc? Since I am not at home, I don't have the cover handy to check the other side, but believe that I would have scanned it if there were anything at all on it at the time.
It may have been forwarded from New Delhi to Bangalore, as my Uncle's squadron did make that move at some point.
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pigdoc
15 Jan 2019
01:15:30pm
re: Crash Covers

Very intriguing cover, Benque.

Not a lot to go on, but I'll give it a stab.

I am presuming the crayon marking indicates "Commercial Flight, Bangalore". I'm also wondering if the smaller inscription is a date, in continental format, being May 1.

If I search BAAA (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives, I find a lot of USAAF crashes, and this one:

C-53: March 24 1944

It's a CNAC (Chinese National Aviation Corporation) flight that crashed in the mountains near Yunnan, China on March 24, 1944, after the crew became lost on its journey from Dinjan, India. From wikipedia:

Quote:

"During World War II, CNAC was headquartered in India, and flew supplies from Assam, India, into Yunnan, southwestern China through the Hump Route over the Himalayas, after the Japanese blocked the Burma Road. Despite the large casualties inflicted by the Japanese and more significantly, the ever-changing weather over the Himalayas, the logistics flights operated daily, year round, from April 1942 until the end of the war. The CNAC was a smaller part of the overall re-supply operations which included the USAAF's India-China Division of Air Transport Command."



I believe the China-Burma-India Air Service Command over airlift operations was HQed in Panagarh (NE India) and Bangalore, which might explain the crayon markings.

I could not find an RCAF 45 Squadron, but I did find an RAF 45 Squadron. From wikipedia:
Quote:

"From mid-1942 the unit was deployed to Burma and India, for service against the Japanese. Three aircraft from the Squadron participated in the first Allied bombing raid against Bangkok. During its time in India and Burma, 45 Squadron converted to Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers, followed by de Havilland Mosquitos."



Maybe a start...
-Paul

PS, I missed perhaps the more interesting aspect of this cover...it's an AIRGRAPH (Type 3)!

AIRGRAPH
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Benque
15 Jan 2019
02:08:17pm
re: Crash Covers

Hi Paul,
Very interesting. Your findings led me to remember some information which might help in the search.
My Uncle was RCAF, but did serve in a bomber squadron throughout the war, perhaps assigned to a RAF squadron. He served in Africa first, before the squadron moved to India. I have seen, but been unable to obtain a copy of him posing with some "mates", in what is no doubt Northern Africa, and in the photo, he has a very big smile, his arm around the shoulder of a very unhappy looking German officer, and is pointing a luger (I believe) at the German's head. This picture hung in my Aunt's house for many, many years, and I have looked at it innumerable times as a child. I have also seen the pistol from the photo, at my Grandmother's house, as a child.
How would a member of a bomber crew come to capture a German (as the family story goes)? I surmise that it may have occured during the German retreat in North Africa, when at least one German airbase which was considered to have been abandoned was taken over by a Allied squadron, who found upon landing there...much to their surprise, that the Germans ground crews had not been ordered to leave, so were still at their posts.
Later, in India, Uncle is reported to have survived being shot down twice (or at least crash-landed), the first time spending time in hospital in Calcutta...there is correspondence from a nurse there, who had a fling with my Uncle.
That is what I can recollect now, and unfortunately those who would know the real story are long since passed away.
Thank you very much for digging into this!!!
Dennis

I forgot to add, that the letter would have been going to, or coming from Prince Edward Island, to or from Uncle in India.....No stamp...from him?

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Benque
15 Jan 2019
02:38:57pm
re: Crash Covers

Hi Paul,
I did some more digging, and came up with a few other airgrams, confirming sqd. 45 of RAF.
I think the 3rd image, from April ties in with the original air-crash image.

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pigdoc
15 Jan 2019
03:41:48pm
re: Crash Covers

Hey Dennis,

Thanks for posting the interesting covers!
I don't want to get too far down into the weeds on military history (that's for another list!), but YES, RAF 45 Squadron was in North Africa. The unit was distinguished for its service in multiple theaters. Again, from wikipedia:

Quote:

"During World War II, it (No. 45 Squadron RAF) became one of only a few Allied units to have engaged German, Italian, Vichy French and Japanese forces. 45 Squadron included a significant number of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) personnel, who were drawn from an unofficial joint pool of aircrew."



I doubt that BAAA is a comprehensive listing of air crashes, and I only searched Asia. I had the thought that, if the cover was directed to Bangalore (to reach your uncle) and it was incoming (most likely), it could have been in a crash in Europe or North America, for starters...

Too bad you don't have the enclosure...

-Paul

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roy
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15 Jan 2019
07:22:18pm
re: Crash Covers


When the Mail Crashes ( a Stamporama Exhibit)

Roy

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keesindy
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16 Jan 2019
08:10:48pm
re: Crash Covers

This discussion reminds me of my raft trip through the Grand Canyon in 1974. It was ten days and we did a lot of hiking along the 188-mile (if my memory is correct) trip.

One of our hikes took us up a side canyon where we could view some of the wreckage of the 1956 mid-air collision of a DC-7 and a Super Constellation. Most of the remaining wreckage was in inaccessible areas, but we were able to walk right up to a few isolated plane sections that fell some distance from the main wreckage sites. It was surprising to see how well preserved the wreckage was in that climate. A friend of mine had a 35mm camera, but I don't think I have any of his photos of the wreckage.

I wonder if any mail survived and was recovered from that crash?

Tom

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"I no longer collect, but will never abandon the hobby"
larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179
16 Jan 2019
11:30:54pm
re: Crash Covers

Crash covers are fascinating. I had to get a few:

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And sometimes a First Flight or other cover BECOMES a crash cover.

In many of these cases, the small mishap (like broken landing gear) is not as notable as the First Flight, but they all tell a story!

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