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British Commonwealth Postal History
Shipwreck & Train Crash Mail
Unusual Postal Incidents
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1904 Interrupted Mail from the Siege of Port Arthur - 1904 envelope from the Russo-Chinese Bank in Port Arthur to a bank in St Petersburg bearing a 7k stamp cancelled PORT ARTHUR 31 VII 1904. This was the day before the siege of Port Arthur began by the Japanese during the Russo – Japanese War which took place between 8 February 1904 and 5 September 1905. The mail was held in Port Arthur, and after hostilities had ceased a label was affixed that basically states: “This letter was found after the capitulation of Port Arthur and has now been released for delivery.”  A St. Petersburg 11. IX 1906 arrival datestamp ties the label. Port Arthur was a deep water port and Russian naval base at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsular and the siege was the longest and most violent battle of the Russo-Japanese War, lasting from 1 August 1904 to 2 January 1905. 14,000 Japanese and 6000 Russian soldiers were killed and over 32,000 Russian soldiers taken prisoner. The Japanese lost 2 battleships and 1 cruiser sunk, while the Russians lost 4 battleships and 2 cruisers sunk and 1 battleship scuttled. A rare surviving cover from this siege, that took 772 days to reach its destination !
1904 Interrupted Mail from the Siege of Port Arthur - 1904 envelope from the Russo-Chinese Bank in Port Arthur to a bank in St Petersburg bearing a 7k stamp cancelled PORT ARTHUR 31 VII 1904. This was the day before the siege of Port Arthur began by the Japanese during the Russo – Japanese War which took place between 8 February 1904 and 5 September 1905. The mail was held in Port Arthur, and after hostilities had ceased a label was affixed that basically states: “This letter was found after the capitulation of Port Arthur and has now been released for delivery.”  A St. Petersburg 11. IX 1906 arrival datestamp ties the label. Port Arthur was a deep water port and Russian naval base at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsular and the siege was the longest and most violent battle of the Russo-Japanese War, lasting from 1 August 1904 to 2 January 1905. 14,000 Japanese and 6000 Russian soldiers were killed and over 32,000 Russian soldiers taken prisoner. The Japanese lost 2 battleships and 1 cruiser sunk, while the Russians lost 4 battleships and 2 cruisers sunk and 1 battleship scuttled. A rare surviving cover from this siege, that took 772 days to reach its destination !
1904 Interrupted Mail from the Siege of Port Arthur
1904 envelope from the Russo-Chinese Bank in Port Arthur to a bank in St Petersburg bearing a 7k stamp cancelled PORT ARTHUR 31 VII 1904. This was the day before the siege of Port Arthur began by the Japanese during the Russo – Japanese War which took place between 8 February 1904 and 5 September 1905. The mail was held in Port Arthur, and after hostilities had ceased a label was affixed that basically states: “This letter was found after the capitulation of Port Arthur and has now been released for delivery.” A St. Petersburg 11. IX 1906 arrival datestamp ties the label. Port Arthur was a deep water port and Russian naval base at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsular and the siege was the longest and most violent battle of the Russo-Japanese War, lasting from 1 August 1904 to 2 January 1905. 14,000 Japanese and 6000 Russian soldiers were killed and over 32,000 Russian soldiers taken prisoner. The Japanese lost 2 battleships and 1 cruiser sunk, while the Russians lost 4 battleships and 2 cruisers sunk and 1 battleship scuttled. A rare surviving cover from this siege, that took 772 days to reach its' destination !
£4250.00
Reference: K3072

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1945 Texas Flood Mail - 1945 envelope fro Belton, Texas, that has a violet straight line cachet DAMAGED BY FLOOD. In mid April 1945 heavy rains in central Texas caused extensive flooding and Belton was hard hit. This envelope was most probably in a post box when it was flooded as the stamp has been washed off. A very scarce cover from this flooded area.
1945 Texas Flood Mail
1945 envelope fro Belton, Texas, that has a violet straight line cachet DAMAGED BY FLOOD. In mid April 1945 heavy rains in central Texas caused extensive flooding and Belton was hard hit. This envelope was most probably in a post box when it was flooded as the stamp has been washed off. A very scarce cover from this flooded area.
£120.00
Reference: G2786

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1975 Australia Cyclone Tracey Mail - CYCLONE TRACEY, AUSTRALIA. A cover to Queensland cancelled by a boxed DARWIN 24 MAR 1975 PAID roller cancel. On Christmas Eve 1974 cyclone Tracey struck Darwin destroying more than 70% of Darwins buildings, including 80% of the houses. 71 people were killed and more than 41,000 out of the 47,000 inhabitants of the city were left homeless. Between 26 and 31 December, a total of 35,362 people were evacuated from Darwin. It took over five months to rebuild enough of the city for inhabitants to return. In that period of rebuilding, mail was sent free of charge. An uncommon cover from the aftermath of this devastating cyclone.
1975 Australia Cyclone Tracey Mail
CYCLONE TRACEY, AUSTRALIA. A cover to Queensland cancelled by a boxed DARWIN 24 MAR 1975 PAID roller cancel. On Christmas Eve 1974 cyclone Tracey struck Darwin destroying more than 70% of Darwin's buildings, including 80% of the houses. 71 people were killed and more than 41,000 out of the 47,000 inhabitants of the city were left homeless. Between 26 and 31 December, a total of 35,362 people were evacuated from Darwin. It took over five months to rebuild enough of the city for inhabitants to return. In that period of rebuilding, mail was sent free of charge. An uncommon cover from the aftermath of this devastating cyclone.
£150.00
Reference: G2784

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1963 Flood Damaged Mail - 1963 envelope sent internally in California with a datestamp of OC 15 1963. At the lower left is a two line DAMAGED BY / FLOOD violet handstamp. The cover has been resealed by tape, mainly on the back. On October 15 1963 severe storms caused flash flooding and mudslides in Southern California. Damage was localized but extensive. An uncommon cover from these floods.
1963 Flood Damaged Mail
1963 envelope sent internally in California with a datestamp of OC 15 1963. At the lower left is a two line DAMAGED BY / FLOOD violet handstamp. The cover has been resealed by tape, mainly on the back. On October 15 1963 severe storms caused flash flooding and mudslides in Southern California. Damage was localized but extensive. An uncommon cover from these floods.
£70.00
Reference: G2783

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1972 Flood / Hurricane Damaged Mail - 1972 envelope to Ithica that has had the stamp washed off but has a SHERMAN N.Y. JUN 21 1972 datestamp. A violet straight line DAMAGED BY FLOOD cachet is on the front of the cover. Hurricane Agnes hit Florida late on June 19, before moving over Georgia and the Carolinas, where it weakened into a tropical depression. Its intensity picked up again when it moved out over the Atlantic Ocean and by the time it hit New York, it had become an extratropical cyclone. In both Pennsylvania and New York combined, about 43,594 structures were either destroyed or significantly damaged. Major flooding caused extensive damage and  parts of Corning were under more than 20 foot of water. Many other towns also suffered extensive flooding. A fine cover from this hurricane.
1972 Flood / Hurricane Damaged Mail
1972 envelope to Ithica that has had the stamp washed off but has a SHERMAN N.Y. JUN 21 1972 datestamp. A violet straight line DAMAGED BY FLOOD cachet is on the front of the cover. Hurricane Agnes hit Florida late on June 19, before moving over Georgia and the Carolinas, where it weakened into a tropical depression. It's intensity picked up again when it moved out over the Atlantic Ocean and by the time it hit New York, it had become an 'extratropical cyclone'. In both Pennsylvania and New York combined, about 43,594 structures were either destroyed or significantly damaged. Major flooding caused extensive damage and parts of Corning were under more than 20 foot of water. Many other towns also suffered extensive flooding. A fine cover from this hurricane.
£70.00
Reference: G2782

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1955 Postal Incident - Bomb on Plane - 1955 envelope to Oregon that was on United Airlines flight from New York to Oregon, with a stop in Denver, that exploded and crashed near Longmont, CO. killing all on board. The bomb was placed on board at Denver and the damaged mail received a three line cachet stating DELAYED OR DAMAGED BY / INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE / NEAR DENVER, COLORADO. The person who put the bomb on board was found a few years later and admitted to the offence. He claimed he put the bomb on board To Kill His Mother to Collect the Insurance Money on her Life!! A copy of a newspaper article relating to the bombing accompanies the cover. A fine and rare item.
1955 Postal Incident - Bomb on Plane
1955 envelope to Oregon that was on United Airlines flight from New York to Oregon, with a stop in Denver, that exploded and crashed near Longmont, CO. killing all on board. The bomb was placed on board at Denver and the damaged mail received a three line cachet stating 'DELAYED OR DAMAGED BY / INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE / NEAR DENVER, COLORADO.' The person who put the bomb on board was found a few years later and admitted to the offence. He claimed he put the bomb on board 'To Kill His Mother to Collect the Insurance Money on her Life'!! A copy of a newspaper article relating to the bombing accompanies the cover. A fine and rare item.
£600.00
Reference: G2780

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1857 Victoria /Ship Incident - 1857 envelope to Leamington, Warwickshire, endorsed Per R.M.S. “Oneida” via Marseille, franked with a 6d cancelled by a barred obliterator with a MELBOURNE JA 26 1857. datestamp on the back. A London 4 MY 1857 datestamp is on the front of the cover and a Leamington 4 MY 57 arrival c.d.s. is on the back. The Oneida sailed from Melbourne on January 28 with 10,156 oz of gold on board (£50,000) and 15 boxes of mail. On 23 February she put into King Georges Sound with engine trouble. The gold, passengers and the mail were transferred to the European which sailed from King Georges Sound on 21 March and arrived at Suez on 19 April. The total journey took 98 days, well beyond the normal 65 – 70 days this trip should have taken.
1857 Victoria /Ship Incident
1857 envelope to Leamington, Warwickshire, endorsed 'Per R.M.S. “Oneida” via Marseille', franked with a 6d cancelled by a barred obliterator with a MELBOURNE JA 26 1857. datestamp on the back. A London 4 MY 1857 datestamp is on the front of the cover and a Leamington 4 MY 57 arrival c.d.s. is on the back. The 'Oneida' sailed from Melbourne on January 28 with 10,156 oz of gold on board (£50,000) and 15 boxes of mail. On 23 February she put into King George's Sound with engine trouble. The gold, passengers and the mail were transferred to the 'European' which sailed from King George's Sound on 21 March and arrived at Suez on 19 April. The total journey took 98 days, well beyond the normal 65 – 70 days this trip should have taken.
£325.00
Reference: K2832

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1940 Iraq - 1940 registered envelope from Osaka, Japan, to Baghdad, franked at a double weight, the stamps cancelled 15.11.14. (1940) The cover has a bilingual “Found open or damaged / and officially secured” label affixed, which has been tied by BAGHDAD 18 DEC 40 datestamps.  This tape is unrecorded in Drummond. A rare cover.
1940 Iraq
1940 registered envelope from Osaka, Japan, to Baghdad, franked at a double weight, the stamps cancelled 15.11.14. (1940) The cover has a bilingual “Found open or damaged / and officially secured” label affixed, which has been tied by BAGHDAD 18 DEC 40 datestamps. This tape is unrecorded in Drummond. A rare cover.
£495.00
Reference: K2817

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1918 Train Fire - On the night of December 21/22 1918, the train from Paris to Brussels had a fire on board that damaged a considerable part of the mail. This charred picture post card of Lyon has had the stamp washed off, presumably when extinguishing the fire, and a two line handstamp applied. CORRESPONDANCE RETARDEE / PAR SUITE DUN INCENDIE.  Although not a lot is known of this incident, it does appear as though there was a considerable delay before the mail was delivered as items are known arriving only on 13 January 1919.
1918 Train Fire
On the night of December 21/22 1918, the train from Paris to Brussels had a fire on board that damaged a considerable part of the mail. This charred picture post card of Lyon has had the stamp washed off, presumably when extinguishing the fire, and a two line handstamp applied. 'CORRESPONDANCE RETARDEE / PAR SUITE D'UN INCENDIE.' Although not a lot is known of this incident, it does appear as though there was a considerable delay before the mail was delivered as items are known arriving only on 13 January 1919.
£110.00
Reference: K2715

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1934 Antarctica Delayed Mail - 1934 cover to Rhode Island, U.S.A. with a Boyd Antarctic Expedition 3c cancelled by a LITTLE AMERICA ANTARCTICA JAN 31 1934 roller canceller. The cover was delayed for a year, possibly due to the postmaster having mental problems, such as a mental breakdown because he couldnt cope with the climate. A three line handstamp THIS LETTER HAS BEEN DELAYED FOR ONE YEAR BECAUSE OF DIFFICULTIES IN TRANSPORTATION AT LITTLE AMERICA, ANTARCTICA. is on the lower left of the cover. A San Francisco MAR 25 1935 transit c.d.s. is on the back.
1934 Antarctica Delayed Mail
1934 cover to Rhode Island, U.S.A. with a Boyd Antarctic Expedition 3c cancelled by a LITTLE AMERICA ANTARCTICA JAN 31 1934 roller canceller. The cover was delayed for a year, possibly due to the postmaster having mental problems, such as a mental breakdown because he couldn't cope with the climate. A three line handstamp 'THIS LETTER HAS BEEN DELAYED FOR ONE YEAR BECAUSE OF DIFFICULTIES IN TRANSPORTATION AT LITTLE AMERICA, ANTARCTICA.' is on the lower left of the cover. A San Francisco MAR 25 1935 transit c.d.s. is on the back.
£60.00
Reference: K2712

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1935 Quetta Earthquake - 1935 QUETTA EARTHQUAKE.  1935 unfranked envelope to Yorkshire, endorsed at the lower left corner Earthquake Area and with a fine strike of the scarce violet two line QUETTA EARTHQUAKE, / POSTAGE FREE. cachet. A Quetta backstamp 11 JU is on the back of the cover. The earthquake occurred on 31 May 1935 between 2:33 am and 3:40 am at Quetta, Balochistan, India, (now part of Pakistan). The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.7 on the Richter scale and anywhere between 30,000 and 60,000 people died from the impact. A good strike of this scarce canceller.
1935 Quetta Earthquake
1935 QUETTA EARTHQUAKE. 1935 unfranked envelope to Yorkshire, endorsed at the lower left corner 'Earthquake Area' and with a fine strike of the scarce violet two line 'QUETTA EARTHQUAKE, / POSTAGE FREE.' cachet. A Quetta backstamp 11 JU is on the back of the cover. The earthquake occurred on 31 May 1935 between 2:33 am and 3:40 am at Quetta, Balochistan, India, (now part of Pakistan). The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.7 on the Richter scale and anywhere between 30,000 and 60,000 people died from the impact. A good strike of this scarce canceller.
£390.00
Reference: K2605

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1942 Samoa Ship Incident - 1942 censored envelope to Scotland that was involved in a maritime incident. A violet straight line DAMAGED AT SEA cachet is across the front of the cover and partially ties the stamp. Besides being censored in New Zealand and the U.K. And resealed with censor tape, it also has had Found Open or Damaged and Officially Secured tape affixed to the base of the cover. Hoggarth and Gwynn record two covers known, both from New Zealand, and that the incident happened in December 1942. This is the third cover recorded and the only one out of Samoa. The incident, of which there are no details known as it was a wartime incident, must have happened after it left New Zealand. Very scarce.
1942 Samoa Ship Incident
1942 censored envelope to Scotland that was involved in a maritime incident. A violet straight line 'DAMAGED AT SEA' cachet is across the front of the cover and partially ties the stamp. Besides being censored in New Zealand and the U.K. And resealed with censor tape, it also has had 'Found Open or Damaged and Officially Secured' tape affixed to the base of the cover. Hoggarth and Gwynn record two covers known, both from New Zealand, and that the incident happened in December 1942. This is the third cover recorded and the only one out of Samoa. The incident, of which there are no details known as it was a wartime incident, must have happened after it left New Zealand. Very scarce.
£275.00
Reference: K2513

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1917 WWI bombing - WWI BOMBING.  1917 badly damaged envelope to Marseille that was in one of the two post wagon which were bombed by German planes at the Gare des Orient, Salonica, in August 1917. The damaged mail received a blue straight line cachet  INCENDIE WAGON POSTE. A good example of this handstamp.
1917 WWI bombing
WWI BOMBING. 1917 badly damaged envelope to Marseille that was in one of the two post wagon which were bombed by German planes at the Gare des Orient, Salonica, in August 1917. The damaged mail received a blue straight line cachet 'INCENDIE WAGON POSTE'. A good example of this handstamp.
£285.00
Reference: K1974

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1939 Mail Robbery - 1939 envelope cancelled by MISHAWAKA, IND. NOV 24 1939 roller 2c PAID canceller that has a Delayed by Mail Robbery of Nov, 26, 1939 cachet applied to the front.
1939 Mail Robbery
1939 envelope cancelled by MISHAWAKA, IND. NOV 24 1939 roller 2c PAID canceller that has a 'Delayed by Mail Robbery of Nov, 26, 1939' cachet applied to the front.
£295.00
Reference: K1854

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1941 Mail Robbery - 1941 3c postal stationery envelope to Wooster, Ohio, with three 1c added, cancelled DAYTON 6 1941. This cover was involved in a mail robbery and a two line purple handstamp DAMAGED IN MAIL / ROBBERY was applied. As there are no other postal markings one doesnt know either what happened, where the robbery took place or how long the mail was delayed.
1941 Mail Robbery
1941 3c postal stationery envelope to Wooster, Ohio, with three 1c added, cancelled DAYTON 6 1941. This cover was involved in a mail robbery and a two line purple handstamp 'DAMAGED IN MAIL / ROBBERY' was applied. As there are no other postal markings one doesn't know either what happened, where the robbery took place or how long the mail was delayed.
£320.00
Reference: K1855

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1955 - 1955 envelope from Romania to Israel that was on an El-Al flight from the Netherlands via London and Istanbul to Tel Aviv that strayed off course and was shot down by the Bulgarian air force on 27 July 1955. All the occupants were killed. A boxed Hebrew cachet describes the incident. A very scarce item from this incident.
1955
1955 envelope from Romania to Israel that was on an El-Al flight from the Netherlands via London and Istanbul to Tel Aviv that strayed off course and was shot down by the Bulgarian air force on 27 July 1955. All the occupants were killed. A boxed Hebrew cachet describes the incident. A very scarce item from this incident.
£630.00
Reference: G1909

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1951 - DAMAGED BY WATER.  1951 envelope from St. Louis to Chicago with a cancellation of FEB 6 1951. A violet two line cachet Mail damaged by water / Postage Paid has been applied to the front of the cover. In late January and early February 1951 there was a very severe ice storm that left thousands of square miles under nearly a foot of ice. When this started to melt there would have been localised flooding and presumably that is what occurred to damage this envelope. An uncommon item and the only such one that I have recorded during this period to date.
1951
DAMAGED BY WATER. 1951 envelope from St. Louis to Chicago with a cancellation of FEB 6 1951. A violet two line cachet 'Mail damaged by water / Postage Paid' has been applied to the front of the cover. In late January and early February 1951 there was a very severe ice storm that left thousands of square miles under nearly a foot of ice. When this started to melt there would have been localised flooding and presumably that is what occurred to damage this envelope. An uncommon item and the only such one that I have recorded during this period to date.
£230.00
Reference: G2228

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1939 - Challenger air crash - AIR CRASH.  On 1 May 1939, the Imperial Airways flying boat â₽˜CHALLENGER crashed on landing at Lumbo Harbour, Mozambique. Two members of the crew were killed and the remaining four and one of the passengers injured. This envelope to Cape Town is from BANGKOK, THAILAND. The stamps have been washed off on the reverse but there are two partial Bangkok cancellations. It has the boxed bilingual (English and Afrikaans) explanatory cachet that was applied to the mail on arrival in South Africa. A rare country of origination for this crash.
1939 - Challenger air crash
AIR CRASH. On 1 May 1939, the Imperial Airways flying boat â₽˜CHALLENGER' crashed on landing at Lumbo Harbour, Mozambique. Two members of the crew were killed and the remaining four and one of the passengers injured. This envelope to Cape Town is from BANGKOK, THAILAND. The stamps have been washed off on the reverse but there are two partial Bangkok cancellations. It has the boxed bilingual (English and Afrikaans) explanatory cachet that was applied to the mail on arrival in South Africa. A rare country of origination for this crash.
£500.00
Reference: G2232

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