This telegram was sent from the Royal Netherlands Airways, Sydney, to the manager of ABC Radio Station 2CO, Corowa, New South Wales. This telegram relates to the 1934 London to Melbourne Air Race. The telegram records the Royal Netherlands Airways' thanks to ABC Radio 2CO radio staff for their efforts in broadcasting an emergency message to the residents of Albury after the Dutch airliner ‘Uiver’ became lost at night in bad weather. As requested local radio listeners drove their cars to the Albury racecourse and illuminated an emergency landing ground using their vehicle headlights. This allowed the lost airliner to land safely.
This item relates to the London to Melbourne Air Race of 1934, a significant event that shaped Australia's history as it proved travelling to and from Australia could be done within a reasonable time by air, thereby making the country less isolated. Up to that time Australia was three weeks away from Europe by steam ship.
The Air Race was dreamt up by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Harold Smith, to commemorate the centenary of Victoria's statehood and was sponsored by the Melbourne chocolate manufacturer Sir MacPherson Robertson. The Royal Netherlands Airways entered a Douglas DC2 plane 'Uiver' - the largest aircraft in the race, and the only one to carry passengers as well as crew, to show that a commercial passenger service to Australia was possible. But in the last leg of the race, the Uiver lost its way in an electrical storm over the Riverina town of Albury.
Several communication methods were used to land the plane safely, including the signalling of the word "Albury" in Morse code using the town's street lights. Local ABC Radio station 2CO also made a call for locals to light up a makeshift landing strip for the plane at the town's racecourse. The plane landed safely and the next morning with the help of the townspeople who pulled it out of the mud, took off and finished the race in second place.
The story of the Uiver points to the importance of communication in its various forms: two-way and broadcast radio, Morse, and light signals. The survival of the Uiver is a reflection of the ingenuity of Australian communications and the solutions that can be found through the sharing of ideas of information.
The landing of the Uiver was an important moment in Albury's social history, as residents participated in the rescue of the plane and its passengers, helping the Uiver to continue on its journey and finish second in the Race. When the Uiver crashed in the Syrian Desert in December 1934, Albury residents contributed to a memorial which honoured those who were killed.
Beige paper telegram printed with black ink and overwritten with typewriter. Telegram split into sections designating details of the telegram, details of the recipient and a space for the transmitted message. A small section of paper is missing from bottom left corner.
Inscriptions & markings
"Extend to you my warmest appreciation for your most valuable / assistance rendered to Netherlands machine by continuously keeping your / wireless organisation available during a period of extremely difficult / air navigation stop I assure you that in Holland and in Java your action / is most deeply appreciated Bakker chief representative in Australia for / Royal Netherlands airways. / 6 18pm"