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Weather Forecast for Tristan da Cunha / Edinburgh-of-the-Seven-Seas and Live-Ship-Finder







left: Football Match 1944 on Tristan - in the background part of the settlement Edinburgh at the foot of the volcano mountains - private picture,

right: Tristan da Cunha, Potatoe Patches - private photo 1944




World War II


Tristan censor marks during WW2

(short version - more in the SHATPS publication - The South Atlantic Chronicle).


Until 1940 no censor mark appeared on Tristan covers. In use were the then current handstamps Type V, VI and VII.


We have to divide between

-          censor marks applied on mail aboard of visiting ships, mail that was never landed on Tristan da Cunha but with a close connection to the island and

-          censor marks applied on mail from the islanders or personal of the Garrison or the Meteorological Station on Tristan da Cunha.


Censored mail of ships visiting Tristan

When HMS Queen of Bermuda anchored off Tristan on the 24th August 1940 with the order to Rev. Wilde to embark as fast as possible, the clergyman removed the Type V handstamp. There was not much time for the Reverend to prepare any covers because he was urged by the ship’s captain to hurry up.

But onboard the Man-of-War Rev. Wilde struck a few covers (4 known) with the Type V handstamp which were censored by an unknown censor officer, who signed the tombstone censor marking with “R.A.S.” and with a one line date handstamp of AUG 24 1940 with red ink (fig. 1).

Let me say a word to the naval “tombstone” marking. That ship’s censor was in use during WW2 on British ships worldwide. Today the price of such a cover is low and many censors cannot be identified, nor can the ships where the covers were posted.

Very different to the common usage of the “tombstones” are the covers posted on or off Tristan da Cunha. The censors and the ships they belong to are identified (perhaps not all?!?) and these covers are worth reasonable more. All censored covers of Tristan are highlights of a postal history collection of that island. But – you have to know the initials or signatures of the censors!

During 1940 no tombstone censor mark was available on Tristan da Cunha.

When the Union Castle ship Carnarvon Castle visted Tristan on the 15th November 1940, a few crew covers were censored by the ship’s censor Surgeon Lieut. John Stride but no Tristan cancellation was applied, because the mail remained on board the ship. The island mail was handstamped with Type VI or VII and received no censor mark.


Censored mail on Tristan and incoming mail

Upon the arrival of Dunnottar Castle on the 5th April 1942 the first consignment of forces personal landed (with Allan B. Crawford)  to build up a Naval station as well as the wireless and meteorological offices. The 2nd consignment arrived aboard MS Cilicia on the 10th May 1942, also the Naval  Surgeon Commander E.J.S. Woolley and the Naval Chaplain Rev. Cyril Percy Lawrence.

With a naval base and military personal on the island the necessity to cover all military actions on the island awoke for security reasons.

All mail addressed to Tristan da Cunha had to be addressed to

H.M.S. Job 9

c/o Fleet Mail Office



in some cases the address

P.O.Box 59

Cape Town (fig. 8)


was used. But be careful: Robin Tayler investigated and published his results in the Chronicle of April 2006, that the address P.O. Box 59 was in fact the postal address of HMS Afrikander at Simonstown. There is only a connection to Tristan da Cunha, if the address war crossed out and the cover was forwarded to HMS Job 9 or HMS Atlantic Isle.

In a former letter from Agnes Rogers, written 13th May 1943, enclosure to cover fig. 3, the name “Tristan da Cunha” was mentioned in the letter.

The usage of the “Job 9 address” was confirmed by Allan B. Crawford in a letter of 17th February 1946 (fig.2)

Consequently a British naval-type censor mark “tombstone” came in use, brought to the island by Comm. Woolley, but no censor tape was used on Tristan during WW2.

From now on Comm. Dr. Woolley (fig. 3) and Rev. Lawrence signed the tombstone censor marks on the outgoing mail and the use of the type VI and type VII handstamps and any other “Tristan markings” on the envelopes was forbidden.

Only 2 censored covers signed by Rev. Lawrence are known (13th October 1942 and 10th November 1942). The Reverend was a keen photographer and some of his b/w photos were struck on the reverse with the red tombstone censor mark and signed (fig. 4).

Beginning with the No. 1 on 17th March 1943, Allan B. Crawford issued the first weekly newspaper on the island – THE TRISTAN TIMES. Each issue was struck on the reverse with his personal handstamp and the number of the newspaper handwritten endorsed.

From 1st January 1944 the covered name HMS Job 9 (fig. 2) for Tristan’s naval station changed and was renamed to

HMS Atlantic Isle

Fleet Mail Office

Cape Town (fig. 2 and 7)


Only a few censored covers signed by Comm. Woolley are known until he and Rev. Lawrence left the island aboard the ship Empire Friendship on the 1st July 1944.

They were replaced by Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander H.S.A.  Dr. Corfield  (fig. 5) and Rev. D.I. Luard.  Only one cover is known censored by Rev. Luard (fig. 6). The most common censor of all existing mail was Dr. Corfield, even if all censored covers are very rare!

Some of the covers were handwritten marked “On Active Service” or “Civilian Mail” and some received the London “maritime mail” machine cancellation (fig. 3, 5, 6, 10).


Here a summary of the known censors:

“HMS Queen of Bermuda”            24th August 1940 – ship’s censor “R.A.S.”

“Carnarvon Castle”                     15th November 1940 – ship’s censor Lieut. John Stride

Comdr. Dr. Woolley                    10th May 1942 – 1st July 1944

Rev. Lawrence                            10th May 1942 – 1st July 1944

Comdr. Dr. Corfield                      1st July 1944 – 23rd April 1946 (military period ended)

Rev. Luard                                   1st July 1944 – 20th February 1946 (left Tristan)

Censor of RMS Darro                  11th October 1945

 scans required  - censored cover of the Carnarvon Castle, visiting Tristan 15 NOV 1940
- outgoing Tristan cover censored by foreign countries (all except South Africa).



 fig. 6 - cover censored by Rev. Luard
















fig. 8 - cover to P.O. Box 59, Cape Town - not Tristan related!


fig. 10 - cover with Type VII with red ink from the Tombstone Censor pad, applied by the ship's censor of RMS Darro


 fig. 1 - souvenir cover with Type V handstamp and censored aboard HMS Queen of Bermuda


 fig. 2 - Crawford letter confirming covered addresses for security reasons / example of a Job 9 cover

















 fig. 3 - Censored cover by Comdr. Dr. Woolley 1943


 fig. 4 - Rev. Lawrence censor mark    (no scan with a cover available - who can help?)


 fig. 5 - Cover from WO Kirby to Harvey Pirie, censored Cmdr. Dr. Corfield with 2 page letter below

    fig. 7 - incoming cv to HMS Atlantic Isle 1945 


fig. 9 - incoming cover to Tristan, addressed to H.M.S. Altantic Isle, with censor tape of South Africa



-          The History and Postal History of Tristan da Cunha, George Crabb, 1980

-          Tristan da Cunha and the Roaring Forties, Allan B. Crawford 1982

-          Tristan da Cunha Monographs Vol. 1 and 2, Robin Taylor

-          Philatelic Auctions HR Harmer, USA

My thanks for help and information goes to Mike Faulds and Ray Lloyd


see and read more about in the South Atlantic Chronicle the quarterly journal of SHATPS -> join SHATPS (St. Helena, Ascension & Tristan da Cunha Philatelic Society)








< The first Tristan da Cunha newspaper THE TRISTAN TIMES, No. 3 / 20-3-1943 

on the reverse, as usual, the cachet of A.B.Crawford (see cancellations)





Gough Island Search 1969

On 20th June 1969 a call for help reached the Tristan community. Two meteorologists on Gough Island wanted to return to their old base a few miles away and were missed.

The South African destroyer S.A.S. Simon V.D. Stel with a helicopter was sent from Simonstown.

A rescue party of 10 Tristanians was collected and they found the 2 men on Gough Island dead, presuambly from exposure.


Cover to Cape Town with the signatures of the 10 Islanders and the ship's cancellation of the destroyer S.A.S. Simon V.D. Stel and a commemorative cancellation to the incident on Gough, cancelled at 11th AUG 1969 on Tristan da Cunha



Gough Island Scientific Survey 1955/6

The Expedtion team was landed on 13th November 1955 on Gough Island as part of the International Geophysical Year 1955/56. As an agency of Tristan Post Office a postal service was installed. The expedition had his own Gough Island handstamp in use from 14th December 1955 to 27th May 1957.

Leader of the joint British and South African team was Robert Chambers, who had to be evacuated to Tristan because of a back injury at the landing of the expedition. His successor was  M.W. Holdgate.

16.000 letters were serviced during this period, most with the first mail on 14th DE 1955



Registered cover to Sir Winston Churchill with the signatures of the expedition members, including the leader








Picture Postcard from Harvey Pirie, Gough Island, posted 1956 Gough Island Survey 1955 - 1956, with Gough Island datestamp, addressed to England





Dr J H Harvey Pirie, geologist, bacteriologist and medical officer of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition of 1902 to 1904 that visited the South Orkney Islands and the Weddell Sea, as well as Gough Island, settled in South Africa after the First World War.

He worked in the field of bacteriology at the South African Institute for Medical Research until 1941. He died on 27 September 1965.





Part of official and first Gough Island map, surveyed by J.B. Heaney, assisted by M.W. Holdgate, the leader of the Gough Island Survey 1955 - 1956




Last Day Souvenir Card. The Gough Island Post Office (sub office of Tristan da Cunha) was closed on 27th May 1957. 

The one line cachet "TRISTAN DA CUNHA" is scare and seldom found on covers. The one line cachet is listed on the list of required Post Office equipment before the opening of the first Tristan Post Office at 1st January 1952.




(picture strips taken from original negatives from the Allan Crawford archive range of photographs taken during 18 month stay on the island in 1946)



a neat cover transported with helicopter of the French Training Ship Jeanne d'Arc from TdC to the ship, accompanied by the Support Vessel Victor Schoeler. The cover is addressed to Cpt. M. Scott, Captain of the Tristania II, philatelic cover prepared by Scott, a keen collector himself and also a dealer of Tristan covers - rare



 Weston cover with scarce Type III cancellation and very distinct handstamp





Denstone Expeditions 1982 and 1993


In 1982 the first Expedition of the Denstone College took part on Inaccessible Island. A private expedition cachet was used. The second expedition 11 years later was limited to the investigation of birds and ferns on Tristan da Cunha. The 4 members of the expedition (leader Michael Swales) signed on the pictured cover - only 17 signed covers were made. 





Visit of Governor Andrew Gurr on Tristan da Cunha 2011

Governor Andrew Gurr made his first Tristan visit after his appointment in 2007 aboard the RMS St Helena arriving on Sunday 30th January 2011 for a three-night stopover until Wednesday 2nd February.

Sean Burns arrived on 9th September 2010 aboard SA Agulhas and was sworn in to become Tristan da Cunha's 21st resident Administrator on 15th September.

Both signatures on that registered Air Letter datestamped at the day of arrival of Governor Gurr (the blue explanations are not on the original cover!!) - thanks to the islander who helped to gain the signatures!!

(below the reverse of the cover)
























Philatelic Literature of Tristan da Cunha:


As a collector you have to know all about your topic. All you need you find in the Crabb Bible, the most comprehensive publication about the history of Tristan da Cunha, including shipping lists, cancellations, time tables, fake cancellations ......


THE HISTORY AND POSTAL HISTORY of Tristan da Cunha, from George Crabb, published 1980, 342 pages, spiral bound, offers all in 2 parts, in part I the HISTORY and in part II the POSTAL HISTORY in one book, essential for every Tristan postal history collector,


from time to time available on eBay.
















Tristan da Cunha Monographs / Robin Taylor

20 TdC Monographs were issued by R. Taylor, a MUST HAVE for all (postal) history collectors of Tristan da Cunha. Only 100 printed!! Spiral bound, here some examples:

1952, the year the first Post Office opened on Tristan, 1957-1958, 1962, 1964-1974, each book about 80 - 100 pages, published ~2000-2005






A few impressions from Tristan da Cunha / 2006

Tristan from the Sea

Edinburgh Settlement and RMS St. Helena (front)

Calshot Harbour

to know where you are

part of potatoe patches

Police Car on the island

MV Edinburgh, MV Kelso and RMS St. Helena off Tristan

Settlement from the 1961 volcano lava flow

Gough Island with South African weather station



My thanks goes to all collectors providing scans for publishing!!


If you are satisfied with my home page (or even if you are not), I would be glad if you write about your opinion in my Guest Book 

Copyright © 2011 - Klaus Hahn - The copyright of that home page remains with the author Klaus Hahn. 



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