13 May 2017

Africa – The Dark Continent – All Aspects    

Michael Dobbs was first to display - he had mounted his display before lunch so that those attending early and staying in the room had something to look at, rather than empty board, prior to the start of the meeting.  His display related to post-WW2 and started with a selection of British Forces mail from Kenya during the 1950s (to view these on our website click here) details of his researches in the civil box numbers used by British Forces in Kenya and a few FPOs from Kenya.  Also a selection of British FPOs from Libya, Egypt, Malawi, the Commonwealth monitoring team in Zimbabwe (1980-81), training team in Uganda (1986), UNTAG in Namibia (1989) and British, Australian, French, Canadian and Ghanaian troops supporting UNAMIR in Rwanda 1994/95.  He also displayed his text on the UN Relief Operations in Rwanda (1993-1996) and his monograph on “British Intervention in War-torn Sierra Leone, 1997-2015” published by the West Africa Study Circle in 2015 - this is available to download for free from the WASC website at www.wasc.org.uk.

With his display also mounted prior to the meeting proper Peter Burrows was next to talk - amongst the items shown he had two WW2 Field Service postcards used in Burma by the West African Division; also some WW2 “I am well” cards produced by South African forces and WW1 POW cards from Lourenco Marques (a Portuguese colony) which held a large number of German prisoners from Tanganyika.  There were also items from the WW1 South African POW camp at Fort Napier in Pietermaritzburg, an internment camp for German nationals, including Christmas cards.  Also shown was a selection of POW cards issued in Egypt for Italian POWs during WW2 - including the AF W 3054 (Substitute) with the inscription “card to be used for notification only”.  This was produced in a number of formats and colours.  The display also included honour envelopes and blue triangle air mail letter forms used in East Africa.

He was followed by Geoff Hanney with a selection of Indian FPOs used in Egypt during WW1 - these were mainly on picture postcards of Egypt postmarked with IFPO datestamps.  It included items from 10/11th Division used to defend the Canal.  The Indian Army, known as Indian Expeditionary Force ‘E’, kept a number of stationary offices around Egypt, a situation which carried on until the last one closed down in 1923. 

We welcomed back Lorraine Maguire, following her journey to her homeland of New Zealand and also Australia at the beginning of the year, who showed a small selection of WW2 New Zealand covers from 1940, which initially used Egyptian stamps to pay postage, and a number of honour envelopes.  These were cancelled with various NZ FPO datestamps (NZFPO and MPO KW datestamps).

Our new President, Richard Berry, was next to show with mail from Royal West African Frontier Force and 1950s mail from the Queen’s Own Nigerian Regiment, West African Army Service Corps from Nigeria and the Gold Coast as well as from 4th (Uganda) Battalion, King’s African Rifles and other KAR mail from WW1.  He explained that what then followed was a precursor to his display in January 2018 on the 2nd Brigade of the Rhodesian Army.  This included various posters such as reward notices for terrorists, items from 2 Medical Company and other mail from the Zimbabwe Army and its battalions, including 1st Zimbabwean Commando Battalion.  Richard also showed an LP (a Long Player vinyl record for those of the younger generation !) with “Troopie” songs by John Edmond, an ex-troopie from the Rhodesia Regiment; he also showed various “On Government Service” envelopes with military unit cachets from the period 1979-1981.

Peter O’Keeffe stepped forward next with ten pages of Boer War material, including charge marks; a WW1 photograph of a machine gun unit, WW2 Health Memorandum in the tropics and a selection of Honour envelopes from Africa.  He also showed items from WW2 including Green envelopes, OAS mail from the Sudan, RAF and Army (Green) privilege envelopes from Egypt, a Rhodesian Air Letter to Middle East Land Forces, airgraphs to and from Egypt, Forces registered stationery from Egypt, illustrated Christmas air letter from HM Forces in the Middle East as well as mail from No 6 Internee Camp in Uganda to Italy.  In a further display he later showed a large selection of mail from the Rhodesian Army with various unit cachets and postmarks from the period 1966 to 1980.  This was after Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and included mail with green, white and pale blue labels used for free mail which bore military unit cachets; pink censor labels and also showed differences in the shield on cachets by the Army which showed ‘Rhodesia Army’ and others with ‘Rhodesian Army’.  He also showed a cover from Kenya (postmarked FPO 1040 on 17 OC 66) addressed to the RAF detachment at Lusaka in Zambia (BFPO 645) - sent there at the request of the Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda to provide air defence in the light of UDI.

Last to show (other than Peter’s second showing above) was Alistair Kennedy with a plethora of material, mainly prior to WW1 !  He started by saying that the Army Post Office Corps was formed in 1882 to accompany the British Expeditionary Force sent to Egypt in that year.  He showed examples of postal markings used on piece and on stamps; he also showed incoming mail to Suakin in the Sudan in 1885; an Indian soldiers letter to Sudan as well as French mail to and from various garrisons in Africa.  He also showed Boer War mail 1899-1902, including correspondence from Captain Harold Fielder and examples of postage due charges cancelled upon arrival in England, the use of Cape and Natal stamps as well as unstamped soldiers mail and items from the 1907 Army manoeuvres.  There was a German FPO cancel from South West Africa pre-WW1, a German field postcard as well as WW1 military mail from both South Africa and South West Africa; British Forces in East Africa served by Indian FPOs; WW1 West Indian unit mail in Egypt and three soldiers letters from the Rhodesian Field Force.

© Forces Postal History Society 2017