Lanarkshire Philatelic Society
"EAST AFRICAN AIRMAILS"
Mr. William Colley FRPSL
Members were well entertained by Bill and his award winning display.
Bill started his display with postcards and photos entitled "Hazards to Flying", which include storms, mountains, bush fires, locusts and birds. Bill went on to tell the story, with the aid of covers from Greece, Egypt, GB, and Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika (principally), of how airmails developed within East Africa. Airmails were started by the Germans pre-World War 1 with 26 Squadron Royal Flying Corps and 8 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service taking over. By 1919, the now Royal Air Force had charted landing areas for the whole Cape to Cairo journey. In 1928 Cobham did a "Round Africa" flight and carried one official cover and an unknown unofficially. By the mid 1930s east African Airways came into being, but were short lived. They flew expensive metal aircraft, which when "pranged" (they managed to do this to 3 of their 4 planes!) were difficult, and expensive, to repair. They ceased flying altogether in 1936 to be replaced by Wilson Airways, founded by Mrs Wilson- a farmer's widow, who showed them how it's done. By 1937 the volume of mail was such that Imperial Airways couldn't cope so 216 Squadron RAF assisted by flying the mail from Cairo to Kenya. Bill concluded his first round by showing first flight cover which came about as a result of flight being made by Government Officials, rather than by the opening of new commercial routes.
Bill's second round showed covers relating to Imperial Airways, which included "accelerated" airmails ~ mails sent by airmail to either Paris or Marseille (by air) and then transferred to the African Mail Steamers (pre- the expansion of air services to Africa). Other covers included one addressed to the "Governor of the Colony of Kenya", and covers from Kenya and Tanganyika to such diverse places as Argentina, Berlin and Brazil, all of which would have been flown via the UK. Next came censored/examined wartime mails, mails flown by charter flight and covers from the "new" East African Airways Papal Flight of 1969. Bill concluded his display with "Crash Mails" from flights which has suffered from being hit by lightening, to losing a propeller and crashing in a swamp, to hitting a tree, or a mountain, to crash landing in Lake Victoria to getting "lost" - the result of changing a radio and not checking the radio direction finder.
Andy Robertson, himself an award-winning "aero philatelist", accorded Bill a warm vote of thanks for an excellent and witty display.