Tristan da Cunha was piling up in the Simonstown post office
in Cape Town, South Africa. On October 5, 1932, the postmaster
wrote a letter to the Postmaster General inquiring as to whether
or not this mail should be forwarded to London since no vessel
had called to pick up and deliver Tristan's mail since HMS
CARLISLE did so some 10 months earlier. This letter
prompted inquiries within the London Post Office and Colonial
Office which resulted in reaching an agreement with the Cunard
Steamship Company to fit in a call at Tristan da Cunha by SS
CORINTHIA while on its world cruise in 1933. The cruise
left New York on January 7, 1933 and arrived back in New York
on May 25 after visiting 37 different ports.
But . . .
at Tristan would only be possible if weather conditions permitted.
If the weather was too extreme, mail for Tristan would be taken
to South America and brought back to London at a later date.
Usual notices were announced to the public concerning this special
arrangement and a letter from Douglas Gane was published in
The Times on February 24, 1933, appealing for donations
and gifts for the islanders whose potato crop had once again
failed. Imperial Airways, Ltd. came into the picture to support
the mission. A Mr. Henderson of the Airways Terminus at Victoria
Station London wrote a letter to the London Post Office on March
21 stating that a later time for posting would be available
by using the "Air Service", which was scheduled to
leave London for Cape Town on April 12. The Post Office agreed,
but set the date back to April 5 in order to make connection
in Cape Town with SS CORINTHIA. An official Post
Office Notice was announced with the added statement that, "Correspondence
may also be sent by the direct air service from Croydon to Cape
Town for which the latest time of posting in the Air Mail box
at the G.P.O. is 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday the 5th of April. The
air charges are the same as for South Africa." This is
the first reference to air mail in connection with Tristan da
in London, all 58 bags weighing a ton-and-a-half, was finally
sent out to Cape Town aboard SS ARMADALE CASTLE
to connect with SS CORINTHIA. The transfer was
made and SS CORINTHIA arrived off Tristan on April
27 but as luck would have it, the weather was too poor to offload
the mail. As a result, the mail was dropped in Montivideo, Uruguay
and transfered to SS ORANIA which took the mail
to Rio de Janeiro. From Rio, the Japanese vessel MANILA
MARU sailed across the Atlantic with Tristan's mail,
failing to stop at Tristan for unknown reasons, and left the
mail once again in Cape Town. It was July 1933, nine months
having passed since the beginning of the attempted delivery!
Town post office dreaded having to deal with all this mail again.
The next vessel that could possibly stop at Tristan would be
SS ATLANTIS on February 19, 1934, but that was
7 months away. However, in October 1933 the Colonial Office
wrote a letter to the Postmaster General stating that RRS
DISCOVERY II would be visiting Tristan in the course
of its sailing from London to South Georgia Island later that
month. The research ship offered to carry Tristan's mail and
3 tons of stores for the islanders. The London Post Office and
Mr. Gane jumped at the opportunity and so, for the second time,
Tristan's mail was on the move from Cape Town to London. The
regular Cape Town boat WARWICK CASTLE delivered
the mail to London, now having grown to a total of 63 bags!
Of interest is a note attached to the bags which stated, "In
addition to the above, 1 bag of Paquebot mail posted on the
CARINTHIA and addressed to Mr. Robert Glass, Tristand
da Cunha was received." There is no hint as to the size
of this bag, but any size bag of mail addressed to one single
person causes one to question the contents. It appears to be
a mystery but one theory is that the bag contained philatelic
II sailed with Tristan's mail from London on October
20, 1933. Mail was landed at Tristan on November 16, 1933.
But . . .
lbs. of mail was offloaded. Where was all the rest? The WARWICK
CASTLE arrived in Southampton with the mail from Cape
Town three days after the sailing of SS DISCOVERY
II on her voyage south. The only remaining choice was
to hold this mail and send it with SS ATLANTIS
some three months down the road. Sailing on her 1934 Winter
Cruise from Southampton on January 26, 1934, SS ATLANTIS
arrived at Tristan and offloaded the last of the mail on February
19, 1934. It took 16 months to deliver the mail! Sailing with
the SS ATLANTIS was the Rev. Harold Wilde who
was coming out to relieve the Rev. Partridge. In Rev. Wilde's
possession was the TYPE V handstamp used to cancel the
cover illustrated above.