1931 ANA Special Christmas Airmail Flight

Kingsford Smith and Ulm's Australian National Airways Ltd. (ANA), having abandoned their inter-state services following the loss of their Avro 618 Ten VH-UMF Southern Cloud in March 1931, arranged the first all-Australian air mail flight to England carrying a special air mail for the Christmas of 1931.

Avro 618 Ten VH-UNA Southern Sun departed Hobart on 19 November 1931 piloted by G.U. 'Scotty' Allan with relief pilot R.N. 'Bob' Boulton and wireless operator L.M. Callaghan. The photos above and below show the Southern Sun with titling applied for the Christmas mail flight.


ANA 1931 air mail

In addition to a mail comprising an estimated 52,000 items, the only passenger on the flight was Controller of Civil Aviation Lt Col Horace Brinsmead, who was picked up in Melbourne. The flight proceeded via Sydney, Brisbane, Longreach, Camooweal, Newcastle Waters, Darwin, Koepang, Bima, Surabaya, Batavia and Singapore to Alor Star (Kedah) in Malaya (Malaysia). However, there, owing to the sodden airfield the aircraft crashed and was wrecked on takeoff.

The mail was salvaged and Kingsford Smith summoned to the rescue. He duly arrived from Australia in sister-ship Avro 618 Ten VH-UMG Southern Star and on 5 December Smithy, Allan and Bob Boulton set out once again for London. They arrived on 16 December 1931. Meanwhile, Brinsmead had decided to catch the KLM Batavia-Amsterdam service, however this also crashed at Bangkok in Thailand and he was badly injured.

The illustrated registered cover is one specially printed for the flight by ANA. It originated in Sydney and is postmarked there on 19 November 1931 on two 6d purple 'Airmail Service' stamps (one overprinted 'OS' - Official Service) and a 5d brown 'King George V'. The cover includes a violet cachet "Special Air Mail Flight Nov 1931 Australia-England". The reverse of the cover carries another Sydney postmark.


(Photos: CAHS collection Cover: Phil Vabre collection)

Click here to see another one of ANA's Avro Xs - VH-UMI Southern Moon


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