1918 KENILWORTH CASTLE DISASTER: Envelope (stamp/s washed off) from Pietermaritzburg 2 APR to Private Knight of the SA Infantry, British Expeditionary Force stationed in England. On reverse in purple, the cachet "R.E, Postal sect. L'don N.W.1 / Damaged by immersion / in sea water". Hopkins (1966) records two similar cachets used during the same period presumably for the same disaster. VF, lovely wreck item.
The mail steamer Kenilworth Castle of the Union Castle Line sailed from Cape Town on the 2nd May and was in a convoy destined for England. At 1.10 am on the morning of 4th June she collided with an escorting destroyer. Two depth charges fell from the destroyer and exploded under her bow causing extensive damage. She was taken into Plymouth Sound and beached. 14 passengers and crew were killed. The hold storing the mail was flooded but the mail was subsequently recovered.