Santa Eliza 1942

  • Digital Collection


Continuing the story of 1926, a brown paper cover of large size with the adhesive floated off, and no trace of date stamp or any despatch marking. It is addressed to Diablo Heights, Canal Zone, and a printed heading indicates that it was mailed at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. On the back is a manuscript endorsement in ink "Recovered from the St. Elisa" over a one line handstamp in the magenta ink of the U.S. Post Office. "Foreign Section, Morgan Annex". The absence of any trace of a date made this a major problem, but Morgan Annex is the Foreign Branch of the a.p.o., New York. Enquiry of the United States Post Office produced the information that the S.S. Santa Elisa of the Grace Line sailed from the Port of New York on January 16, 1942, carrying mail for the Canal Zone. She was in collision with the United Fruit Liner San Jose on January 17, 1942 off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Santa Elisa was holed on the port side forward of the bridge, and a fire, which followed the collision, burned for six hours. She put back to New York on January 19, in tow, and the salvaged mails were marked as has been described. The San Jose sank.

It is of interest to record that the Santa Elisa was finally lost by enemy action on August 13 of the same year, 1942, in the Mediterranean, having been torpedoed by "E" boats and bombed by aircraft on the voyage from the Clyde to Malta. Her tonnages were 8,379 gross, and 4,930 net.


Hoggarth & Gwynn estimate some 10 to 19 covers known from this incident.