11 November 2017

Recent Acquisitions & Queries and a chat over coffee and biscuits

This is an annual meeting in our calendar and is welcomed by the membership as it provides an opportunity to show off recent acquisitions (especially those which may not fit easily into “members’ displays” in our programme) and also to bring out items for which you are seeking answers to - there is almost a certainly a member or members amongst those present who can provide an answer.  However, it is not so warmly welcomed by your Hon Secretary as the sheer variety of material shown, even from one person, can prove to be a nightmare to try and write up !  So here goes ……..

Our President, Richard Berry FRPSL, opened the meeting by announcing that two members present had recently been honoured by being made Fellows of the Royal Philatelic Society London and so are permitted to place the letters FRPSL after their names - congratulations go to Philip Kaye and Dr Jim Etherington.  In addition Richard presented Peter High a signed certificate for his winning entry in the President’s Cup competition held at our September meeting.  We also welcomed Andrew Francis from Ormskirk in Lancashire to the meeting - he had come down to visit family and took the opportunity to pay us a visit and as you will see later on, to bring along some items to show.  We hope he enjoyed the meeting and we look forward to future visits.

As we have members who stay in the room over the lunch period we do take the opportunity to place items on view for the “early birds” to view, which is a lot better than looking at blank boards.  Michael Dobbs was first to put up his recent acquisitions and they were still there when he came back from lunch at the Auberge !  There was a selection of mail from the Baltic States Training Team, a small team of twelve Royal Marines were sent to Latvia in January 1995.  There was no BFPO and so mail was sent via civil means.  Very little is known about this small team but the items (from the late Mike Knott collection) showed official mail to/from the Team as well as headed notepaper (please see the display online on our website - Click Here).  He also showed a selection of Danish meter marks used by the Danish Peacekeeping Forces supporting UN operations in such places as Croatia, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Eritrea and Afghanistan - this showed how the same meter franking machine was used in different countries (again you will find this on our website).  Three very recent acquisitions from member/dealer Charles Entwistle was an EFM telegram envelope addressed to a 2Lt Spalding in Bombay (internet search showed he had been awarded the MC in Burma in 1945); a cover from No 1 (Guards) Parachute Company sent to Jordan in 1958 and a telegram sent to the UK in 1941 which requires further research.  He also showed a cover from 1st Lancs Regt in Swaziland (BFPO 640) in 1965 and two covers from 22 SAS in North Carolina, USA (BFPO 618) in 1962.

Mike Grimwade put up four items as a query - he said that over the last two years he had been trying to build up a collection of honour envelopes but had queries on these four: two had been overprinted for post-war use in BAOR and two related to Indian language economy labels.  I hope Mike was able to get answers from those present - there were certainly some experts in the room.

He was followed by Jim Etherington who had one query item which he had previously placed on our Discussion Forum back in 2015 but had not received any answers.  It related to an OHMS envelope to the Regimental Paymaster Royal Signals postmarked FPO 99 on 14 AP 40.  Jim wanted to know the location of the FPO at this time - Proud stated France, but Daynes did not list it being used by the BEF in his article on the “British Expeditionary Force in France & Belgium 1939-1940” serialised in Newsletters (now Journal) Nos 201-203 (1989/90); Jim would like some help in determining where it was used - BEF or ??.

The next to put up a display of recent acquisitions was Peter Burrows.  He collects printed items and the first items in his display were from the National Reserve (the WWI version of the Home Guard) which was made up of ex-servicemen and used for guarding railways, dockyards, etc.  These were the only items he had seen from this organisation - they were printed postcards and envelopes relating to various activities from the Lewisham Battalion.  The remainder of the display concerned WW2 civil censorship in Gibraltar with various covers Addressed to Honk Kong, Spain, USA via Clipper and Egypt amongst others.  These and other items had cachets and postal markings, in indeed the absence of Gibraltar postal markings, and also recordings earlier, later or not recorded by Konrad Morenweiser in his series of publications on British Empire civil censorship devices in WWII.

He was followed by Albert Coles who showed a number of Australian related recent acquisitions - including Australian Army returned to sender mail in WWII; envelope from an RAF Group Captain with concession rate back to the UK; and an OHMS Australian navy envelope with a clear label overstamped with a very large HAND MESSAGE cachet - there were no postal markings (as to be expected).

Robin Davis was next with his new acquisitions obtained in the last year - a mix of material starting with an item from the American Civil War, a cover from the Royal Reserve Regiment during the Boer War - this unit was only in existence for some 18 months; a photograph of 1911 showing the Suffolk Regiment in Cyprus; items from HMS Suffolk in Russian waters, including copies of ships logs; a Registered letter in WW2 from Cyprus to UK; a cover from NP 1027 in Cyprus during the first Gulf War in 1991; a cover from 1 Para Regiment in Cyprus during the troubles there; two covers postmarked FIELD POST OFFICE 600 in 1964 from units in Cyprus (26 Med Regt RA and 654 Sig Tp) (these last items and NP 1027 were of particular interest to your Hon Secretary).

Next to show was our member from Ormskirk Andrew Francis who explained that he was also a member of the Germany & Colonies PS and that his interest was Germany.  He had acquired an number of items during the past year of the German Army during WWI.  This included a cover and photo postcard of the C-in-C Third Army (formerly the Prussian War Minister); POW camp mail from an American officer POW in Baden, a post-armistice cover, with a history of the unit he was with during the American involvement in 1918.  On to WW2 and he showed a German call-up card a cover to the Security Guard Battalion which was involved in various atrocities and a number of covers with Feldpost addresses which Andrew had matched up using the three-volume books on Feldpostnummers by Kannapin; he also found out a bit about the units concerned.  He also showed two first day covers of the German forces air mail stamps and mail from German forces in Stalingrad.

Mike Grimwade showed again, this time with recent acquisitions - he had purchased a job lot of POW cards from Germany, a subject which he had no knowledge whatsoever and was keen to learn so that he could properly write them up !

Next to show was Geoff Hanney with a couple of recent acquisitions - a cover from Tonbridge to Nigeria just after the war (which one - I didn’t make a note !) and a Chatham to Borneo cover during the confrontation period postmarked FPO 1044 at Kuching with an unknown date in 1965, the senders address was given as Naval Party ‘A’, BFPO 605.  There were four Naval Parties in the region at this time:- Naval Party ‘A’ at Kuching, Borneo 04.64; ‘B’ at Labuan, Borneo 04.64; ‘C’ at Brunei 04.64 and ‘D’ at Lahad Datu 04.64 (information from “Naval Parties of the Royal Navy, 1942-1991” Compiled by Lt Cdr Ben Warlow, RN (Rtd), October 1995) - a very good find Geoff !

Back to Jim Etherington who now showed some of his recent acquisitions.  Jim mentioned that he was a thematic collector of 1940 and was currently focussed on the BEF and RAF (known as AASF - Advanced Air Striking Force) in France in that year.  His offering included a couple of items from French liaison officers with the BEF; silk postcards sent from the BEF in 1940 - these had been enclosed in envelopes and posted, but in all three cards the censor had scratched through the printers details (as it gave a location) and mail to the BEF - he said that it was nice to find covers with the letters still inside, particularly those sent to soldier in the BEF.  The last two items were covers returned to sender as they were addressed to persons who never returned from France.

Alan Baker was next with four cards relating to Portuguese heavy artillery during WWI, initially they had been shipped to France but then sent to England for training.  These represented Alan’s interest in the Portuguese military supporting the Allied cause on the Western Front.

India was next on the agenda when Cliff Gregory stepped forth and showed mail from Indian POW and Internee camps in WWI including mail to the Meyer family to and from Ahmednagar and Belgaum civil camps.  This included a registered cover and Cliff which was a first for Cliff.  The display also included a selection of mail addressed to a Mrs Meyer in Rangoon.

Our President, Richard Berry, with a cover addressed c/o the British Embassy in Petrograd and carried in the Diplomatic Bag in 1918 and a cover with the War Office cachet of MA2A Branch with a War Office cachet stated to have been used in 1916 - from a quick internet search I think MA2 Branch was part of the Directorate of Military Aeronautics with MA2 dealing with design, equipment and procurement.

Next on his feet was Peter O’Keeffe with postal stationery starting with WWI memorials and then four 1d paid postage stationery cards from 1938; an item from a British nurse onboard a French Hospital Ship in September 1915; an honour envelope from a soldier in the Machine Gun Corps enclosing a little sachet of scented flowers and lastly a complete set of 12 coloured picture postcards promoting the War Bond Campaign in 1917 from the War National Savings Committee - there was some controversy around these cards and it is not really known if they were used or not.

Just two more displays to go - the penultimate being by Peter Burrows who was persuaded to show his collection of RAF Postagram envelopes which he had initially only brought to show Peter O’Keeffe in response to a query from PJOK.  This service was used for sending priority mail and almost all the envelopes were of a distinctive blue colour, all with the Official Paid medallion.  Also included was a cover with cachet used in Australia in 1957 and a couple of envelopes used in India and designated IAAFF(O)302 (Large) and (Small) used in the 1960s.  They were also used to send telegrams by ordinary post.

The last to show was Alistair Kennedy whose acquisitions were so recent he had not had the time to mount them up !  He had a wide variety of items to show including a cover addressed to the British Antarctic Survey in 1966; a cover from BFPO 628 in Kuching; a WWII Canadian Air Letter; Indian named passed by censor handstamp sent through the civil mail; Canadian items from FMO Halifax; British FPOs in Germany in 1974; a cover from the British Embassy in Bonn; a cover cancelled with a Hungarian FPO written by a Pole to Poland in 1917 and then various covers with different post-war British FPO machine cancels.

© Forces Postal History Society 2017