10 June 2017

“My Favourite Five” - Members’ favourites from their collection and why (from one sheet up to five sheets)

I was unable to attend the meeting and so I am grateful to two of our Vice Presidents (Robin Davis and Geoff Hanney) for providing notes of the meeting - I have merged these together to bring what I hope is a correct account of the meeting.  So any errors or misinterpretation are down to me !

First was John Leathes who showed five one page local society meeting competitions all with a military theme - doomsday or what !  This included an original photo and PHQ card of the nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard that was depicted on a stamp issued by the British Post Office; a card with local stamps of Lundy Island showing HMS Montagu which grounded off the island in WWI and had to be broken up; a cover with complete set of Morocco stamps posted from HMS Leopard after putting in Tangiers as part a Naval blockade during Spanish Civil War; WWII German propaganda stamps; a Ship Letter telegram of 1956 sent correctly via the civil system from the Captain of the Tug HMS Briton which was on it way from South Africa to England to his mother saying he had been diverted to Plymouth - also a picture of its Captain, one Captain J. Leathes RN !

He was followed by Albert Coles who showed items with an Australian theme - two letters from Australia, July 1918 and August 1918 (one was a cover from an Australian in the RAF in Aden to London with 3d postage due as redirected and the other was from an Australian Royal Navy officer who was the most decorated Australian RN officer and was involved in mine detecting and clearance).  He also showed a WWII cover from Australia to England in June 1943 with a transit time 36 days and another WWII cover using American APO 1721 which was a temporary office in Sutton Coalfield to the RAAF in London and lastly a cover flown from Farnborough to Woomera Rocket Range Australia by a Vickers Valiant V bomber - on the first such flight and posted in Australia with note about flight.

Third up to display was Nick Colley who showed a variety of naval items such as a WWII January 1940 registered cover from Aden to London with naval censor which had been re-directed with a "posted out of course" cachet; an East Africa WWI cover of March 1916 8th Squadron RNAS in Zanzibar to London cover (not sure why we had two 8th Squadrons with the other on the Western front ?); a French naval item from the "Duquesne" in WW2 at Alexandria (Admiral Godfroy's flagship); a cover cancelled with FPO 192 from the Captain of HMS York, some eight days after ship had been sunk off Crete by Italian mini-submarines; lastly a cover along with a postcard of the Russian Cruiser "Askold" which was seized by the Royal Navy in Northern Russia after the Civil War broke out. To see Nick’s display please ‘click’ here if you are reading the online version of this report.

Alistair Kennedy was next with his first showing - five early 1800’s letters from the same correspondent, that of a sailor to his brother who had been press ganged from a merchant ship of the East India Company onto HMS Speedy.  His brother was landlord of a Public House in Blackfriars Road, London. The sender used a couple of names for some reason and letters were between 1804 and 1805. The letters showed different rates including the 1d concession rate whilst the contents discussed the Blockade of French coast, a stay in the Hospital ship "Sussex" and also possible prize money due to the capture of nine French gunboats.

Next we had a welcome visit from a member who we don’t see that often - Brian Asquith - his display began with a letter from Belgian soldier in Napoleon’s army who was fighting in the Austro-Hungarian Army around Trieste and Fiume sent to his mother in Ghent asking for money to buy shirts and shoes.  Next was an item from 1814 from a midshipman William Hoste on HMS Bacchante while in Trieste in Napoleonic War writing home to his father in Norfolk; as Sir William Hoste he received the order of Maria Theresa for a career in the Adriatic. There is a book entitled "Remember Nelson" which was the signal he used to rally his men in the Battle of Lissa during which he defeated a larger French squadron.  He also showed a balloon mail item of 2 January 1901 from the 4th Balloon Section in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion and also another item from 9 September 1911 from the UK to China.  There was also a cover from Major Barker VC, DSO the highest decorated Canadian Airman of WWI.  Lastly he showed a cover and letter dated 5th May 1942 describing a flight during the retreat from Burma including being attacked by a Japanese fighter which forced them down for repairs.

Peter O'Keeffe next took to the stage and showed a letter from Canterbury to Tonbridge dated 8th June 1790 from the Adjutant of the Light Dragoons asking for a man to be sent back to Canterbury but not his horse !  The 4d had been cross out and 7d plus bishop mark in its place.  There was a paid Forces postal stationary card dated 24th August 1914 from France to Devon and a Royal Navy Honour Envelope censored with a type HE 5b cachet.  He also showed an unlisted Royal Navy Honour Envelope close to type PNB5 but with minor differences and a WWI POW postcard (W5012) for released Prisoner of War.

Another Peter, this time Peter Burrows, was next to display with an RAF Honour Envelope (Form RAF1180) from Egypt to the Sudan, which was similar to one shown at our previous meeting.  The other four covers where all provisional honour envelopes from Aden during WWII all rated 2½ Annas, the surface rate. These where created on whatever was to hand as paper was in limited supply to Aden during this period of the war.

There were some personal reflections by Lorraine Maguire who had two sheets on the New Zealanders at Messines Ridge, as her father was wounded during the battle and this year marked the hundredth anniversary of the battle.  She also showed two certificates issued for Christmas Day gifts (1915) and Empire day (1916).  There was also a selection of modern mementos of cards and miniature medals awarded during this period.  Lastly she showed two WWII air mail letters from the MEF to New Zealand, one with hand drawn picture of Cairo.

Lorraine was followed by Cliff Gregory who showed five covers to India re-directed to more expensive route via Brindisi, Italy rather than the Marseilles during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.  These bore a very rare special three lined boxed handstamp: INSUFFICIENTLY PAID / FOR BRINDISI ROUTE / DEFICIENT POSTAGE d3.  He also showed a cover from Working Party 313 - road building in India.

Peter High was next with a selection of Hospital ship material - including a card with censor and cachet from a WWI nurse on the hospital Ship "Erin", which was steam yacht owned by Thomas Lipton of tea fame on loan to British Red Cross. Erin went to Serbia twice to support that country.  Next was a letter and cover from a WWI nursing sister on a French ambulance barge on the inland waterways (Somme area).  The a card from medical staff on the New Zealand Hospital Ship “Marama” while in Ireland in 1916 to New Zealand with mention of the Easter Raising.  A rare postcard from collection of Keith Tranmer of the Turkish Hospital ship "Rechid Pasha" - all material from Turkish ships is rare due to the poor education of the troops.  Lastly he showed a cover from the Danube paddle steamer "Schonbrunn" used as hospital ship during WWI.

Then it was the turn of Geoff Hanney who shoed a Red Honour envelope used on 10th January 1915 with Indian Army Force ‘D’ censor and Indian FPO 27 on the reverse signed by Brigadier General Dobbie commander of 17th Infantry division (Mesopotamia).  Then there was a registered Indian Army Honour envelope in Urdu from Dhibban, Iraq posted at Indian FPO 367 on 28th April 1919.  Also shown was a cover from US Seaplane Tender "USS Curtis" on 7th November 1942 via New Hebrides with a naval transit mark of "Project White Poppy".  Then a British Forces Air Letter from Japan on 4th August 1955 (FPO 949) with a message that talks about girls in bikinis !  Lastly a full sheet of nine The Queens Battalion labels issued whilst the battalion was in North Armagh-East Tyrone in Northern Ireland.  Also a cover with label cancelled with FPO 780 dated 25th June 1980 and a special cachet for 2nd Battalion.

From Robin Davis we had a Post Office notice dated June 1916 concerning letters and parcels addressed to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and Salonika Force; a censored cover dated 17th March 1940 from Cyprus to England with large circular PASSED MILITARY CENSOR / CYPRUS - this is a very rare censor mark with only about four examples known.  Lastly, WWII late 1941, four Cyprus covers addressed to officers in the Cyprus Regiment returned to sender as the addressee’s were either missing or certified as PoW’s

Richard Berry showed a number of items written up for him by past Presidents of the RPSL.  There was a sheet with the London Gazette dated 1793 on the control of Shipping; a Christmas & New year Card showing the barracks at St Denis Camp from a WW2 Internee from St Denis camp to the Besancon Camp; an item from a Spanish Volunteer serving in the Royal Air Force and mention of 1st Spanish Pioneer Company; a Spanish uncover cover addressed to E.M. Willis to Room 47, Foreign Office. (Room 47 was MI6) and Rhodesia Military / government call up papers for I. K. Radford (Bush War of independence period).

A second showing from Peter O'Keeffe comprised Postal Stationary items including a Queen Victoria WWI POW card dated 11 August 1915 from Germany to England; 1917 reply paid card to London from FPO D35 Cambrai, France; a 1900 card from Nottingham to 11th Hussars in Egypt and a WWII cover from Ahmednagar, India to Tonbridge.

From Alistair Kennedy - WW2 reached Royston this week - with a copy of the Hertfordshire Mercury of 8th June 2017 which included an item about an unexploded bomb found in a back garden.


© Forces Postal History Society 2017