Pan American Airways Wartime Transatlantic Air Mail:
Censorship and the LATI Substitute

By John Wilson and Frank Walton RDP FRPSL

Click here to buy our book

Retail price £44, Members Price £39.

Pan American Airways Wartime Transatlantic Air Mail: Censorship and the LATI Substitute, written by John Wilson and Frank Walton RDP FRPSL, is a fascinating account of how the USA and UK co-operated during World War II to run a censorship and intelligence-gathering operation on mail travelling between the Axis countries in Europe and countries in Latin America with pro-Axis sympathies. Pan American Airways took the place of the Italian-owned LATI (Linee Aeree Transcontinentali Italiane) transatlantic airmail delivery service, which had started in 1939 but was terminated by the USA following that country’s entry into the war in December 1941. The allied censorship operation was based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and has not been the subject of study hitherto. This lavishly illustrated book tells the story of the airmail routes and the censorship process that were developed.  The authors used a combination of archival materials and relevant covers to tell its amazing story.

John Wilson                                               Frank Walton

This 312-page paperback (ISBN 978-1-913015-08-4)

A comprehensive and detailed account of a hitherto unacknowledged, initially clandestine wartime air route flying “The Wrong Way” around the Atlantic Ocean. Pan American Airways, with limited aircraft resources performed a huge logistical task with astonishing efficiency and resolve. The purpose of their mission was to gain access to the intelligence contained in the flow of mail and material flowing uninterrupted between the Axis powers in Europe and their Axis-leaning spheres of influence in South America. Cooperation in the setting up of a dedicated US/British censorship operation in San Juan, Puerto Rico was key to the intelligence gathering but seldom appreciated until now. That the mission succeeded is indisputable; as the official US Congress Senate Committee Report (22 June 1945) noted:

By this means, British and US Censorship were able to control all airmail between Latin America and Europe. This mail included the highly important airmail between the Argentine on the one hand and Germany and the European neutrals on the other. This was probably the most important channel in the world.

This book tells the story of the mail routes and censorship processes. It has been painstakingly researched from a combination of primary archive sources and empirical evidence from the covers themselves.
This is the first time the story has been told fully in a published book.

John Wilson

Retired Electrical Engineer
Life Fellow of the Society of Postal Historians
Elected to the Hall of Fame by the American Air Mail Society (AAMS)
Recipient of L.B. Gatchell Literature Award for article “San Juan Agreement” from AAMS


Frank Walton

Retired IT Professional
Past-President of the RPSL
Signature to the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists
Past President of the Society of Postal Historians Former Editor The London Philatelist

Chapter 1 
Setting the Scene
War in Europe
Enter the Italians
Chapter 2 
Airmail carried by Panair or Panagra in LATI period intercepted by British censor
Airmail from South America to and via UK
Airmail from South America to USA
Airmail from South America to Canada
Airmail from Europe to South America in the LATI period
Censorship summary for the LATI period
Appendix 2 Annexure to Appendix 34, History of the Postal and Telegraph Censorship Department 1938- 1946 Volume II
Chapter 3 
The Pan American Airways Route structure
Pan American Airways Wartime Atlantic Flights
Pan American Airways Wartime Atlantic Flights
Pan American Airways Route 1
Pan American Airways Route 3
Pan American Airways Route 4
Pan American Airways Route 5
Pan American Airways Route 6
Pan American Airways Route 7
Pan American Airways Route 8
Pan American Airways Route 9
Pan American Airways Route 10
Pan American Airways Route 11
Pan American Airways Route 12
Pan American Airways Route 13
Pan American Airways Route 14
Chapter 4 
The Politics
Chapter 55 
LATI Substitute 
Unintercepted Route 5 mail January to May 1942
The mystery of the missing flight
The mystery of the missing mail
Chapter 6 
May to October 1942: FAM-18 or LATI Substitute?
May to end of July 1942
Mail to and from Germany
Chapter 7 
Operations at Bathurst January to July 1942
Identifying mail intercepted at Bathurst
The censor devices at Bathurst
Mail intercepted at Bathurst
Chapter 8 
The San Juan Agreement
Chapter 9 
Operations at San Juan 1942
Chapter 10 
San Juan and Atlantic Route Development 1942-1943
Chapter 11 
San Juan and Atlantic Route Development 1943-1944
Chapter 12 
San Juan and Atlantic Route Development 1944-1945
Chapter 13 
Identifying LATI Substitute mail
Appendix 1 
Mail rates
Appendix 2 
Flight Data

Sample pages (click one to enlarge)