21-23 July - York Weekend Away

Friday evening: The Friday evening displays started appropriately with two Yorkshire members: John Fowler was first with a selection of US Warship covers and postmarks: between the wars the Americans were building ships which then went on shakedown cruises to Europe and called at various ports.  He showed a selection of covers from ships which visited UK ports and which included the name of the port in the USS ship postmark.

Next to show was Daphne McMillan with a display of post-war economy envelopes - overprinted Honour envelopes and re-use OHMS Official Paid economy labels.  As well as Army Honour envelopes she also was also able to show a single example each of an RAF and RN overprinted Honour envelope.  She also showed a selection of illustrated Christmas air letters.

Third up was Albert Coles who had his usual Australian theme with the RAAF Base at Richmond in New South Wales from 1940.  Initially known as Richmond Aerodrome and then RAAF Base Richmond, after the end of WW2 the Base was used as the main transport base for the RAAF.  The display also included a selection of RAAF philatelic commemorative postmarks.

Continuing with the air force theme Ian Muchall showed a selection of unusual RAF censored covers from India, China and Burma.  Prior to RAF censors such mail passed through civil censorship.  His display included a 1942 Christmas greetings card from the Air Attaché Chungking in southwest China.

Continuing the East Asian theme Peter High put up a display of Japanese hospital ship items from WW2.  This included a photograph taken from a US submarine of a Japanese hospital ship - and he had a cover from the vessel (the Asahi Maru) to go with the photo.  There was also a radio message printed out on a warship and recovered when the ship went to the breakers yard - the message was concerning the surrender of the Japanese.

On a completely different tack Alistair Kennedy explained that he went on a coach trip to the re-vamped National Army Museum which was next door to the Royal Hospital Chelsea.  This was founded by King Charles II in 1682 for soldiers unfit for duty and Alistair showed two letters from out-pensioners in 1827 and 1829 from Ireland about non-receipt of pension (about 6d per day - 2½p).  He also had a cover from 1834.

Andy Brooks had a display of correspondence to or from a Vera Pickles (surname Precious in the 1960s) during WW2.  She worked at Bletchley Park and was born in 1924 and lived until about 2002.  There was correspondence from various servicemen, including a Canadian and post-war correspondence from a sailor.  It also included two letters from men whose relationship with her broke up (her decision).  This was all from a large box of correspondence which Andy had purchased.

At the end of the evening our relatively new President, Richard Berry, decided to introduce a new concept in our meeting arrangements - that of “midnight displays” starting that evening for our inaugural midnight meeting !  That saw a number of those present quickly professing their “goodnights” as they were tired from the days activities which left a hardened group of members to burn the midnight oil.  Even this group was slowly whittled down as the evening progressed and members found they couldn’t stay awake until midnight !  At the end there were a few hardy soles left - Alan Baker, Andy Brooks, Robin & Chris Davis, Michael Dobbs (had to, or else this would not have been written) Geoff Hanney, Alistair Kennedy, Daphne & Robert McMillan and, of course, Richard Berry.  The theme was new acquisitions (in other words material purchased at the York Fair that day).  As time was dragging on, getting ever more slower to reach midnight, it was agreed that we could start showing beforehand provided that it was non-military!  Richard Berry put up a number of items, followed by Daphne McMillan whose items included a picture postcard featuring a penguin and a stamp with a penguin on it.  Daphne was followed by her husband Robert who showed a sheet of notepaper from the British Antarctic Expedition and other Antarctic letters and covers from 1942-44-45.

Midnight came and the midnight meeting started in earnest.  Geoff Hanney showed a selection of Swedish UN contingent in the Far East and some camp postmarks.  Robin Davis showed items connected with the hovercraft operations to get refugees out of Beirut to Cyprus - he had previously showed one and had found two other covers at MIDPEX.  Alan Baker showed a Jutland postcard from HMS Inflexible.  Richard Berry had purchased a range of military related covers - too numerous to mention individually !  They included items connected with Newfoundland, RAF Station Lagos, Displaced Persons mail, Internment mail (Ilag), BEF and mail to Louth, Lincolnshire.  With that the “midnight displays” came to an end and we all trooped off to bed for an early rise and shine in a few hours time !

Saturday afternoon: There had been a call for displays on the Saturday afternoon as some members would have attended the fair on the Friday and possibly the Saturday morning and then wanted something different for the afternoon.  Alan Baker had agreed to take charge of the afternoon showings but as it happened there were a number of us ready and willing to display items from our collections. 

Geoff Hanney was first to show with five pages of photographic postcards of the US Marine Corps in Nicaragua 1918-20.  The postcards were of the US Marines tented camp in the US Embassy grounds in Managua.  The Americans had their own postal cancellers and were mainly based in the capital, Managua.  They returned to the US in 1927.

Michael Dobbs was next to show with a display of British FPOs used in Cyprus during the post-war period.  This included both steel and rubber packet datestamps, official United Nations envelopes and a variety of official mail with unit datestamps.  He also produced text on the addresses used by British Forces in Cyprus over the years, postal arrangements and a listing of post offices as well as datestamps used (these were subsequently sent to Robin Davis for him to turn into an article for his Cyprus Study Circle magazine).

Talking of Robin Davis - he was up next to show a rare non-philatelic use of the FPO 600 skeleton datestamp used during the 1974 Turkish invasion, as well as philatelic examples and a notice issued by the Head Postmaster of Torquay to all offices within the HPO area concerning the arrangements for any mail which may have originated in Cyprus during this period (and Michael Dobbs is in the process of writing an article for our Journal on the emergency postal arrangements for British tourists and service personnel and their families caught up in the 1974 Turkish invasion).

Fourth to show was Andy Brooks with a selection of Austro-Hungarian base post offices in Montenegro 1916-18 with mail from various locations such as Podgorcia, Stari Bar, Djakova, Kolašin and Njeguši.  It included overprinted stamps and military cancellations used exclusively to cancel official, commercial and military field post items.

Next to display was Claire Scott with a selection of material connected with Brunei.  Initially mail from Brunei was sent to Labuan to catch the steamer to Singapore.  Mail was censored in either Singapore or Labuan, but the service was suspended due to the Japanese invasion.  At that time all stamps were overprinted with a straight line printing by the Japanese and there were examples of such stamps and also paper currency used during the Japanese occupation along with postal stationery.  Claire showed a selection of covers and stamps of Brunei with local postmarks, including those from the introduction of the first and second types.  She also showed examples of Australian Forces mail and a selection of BMA overprinted stamps - and warned that there were plenty of forgeries around, and a US Navy cover dated SEP 20 1945.

John Scott was next and he explained that one of his interests was the development of writing paper.  He showed examples of such paper including one from 1842 published by the London firm of J&F Harwood depicting the sinking of the “Royal George”; there were also examples of the 1835 Royal Military Academy, writing paper of the storming of Delhi on 11 November 1857, illustrated letter paper from the French Army of the Rhine in 1870 and those depicting images of the Crimean War.  There were items from the 1914-18 war, including Red Cross produced packets of envelopes and decorated writing paper and WW2 Christmas cards and air letters.  John also showed HM Forces Christmas Gift Parcel labels M64 (1956) and M20 - but did not know anything about them.  Here I was able to help - the M20 label was from 1955 and both types were used to send postage free Christmas air mail parcels to members of HM Forces in Korea and Japan.

Showing next was local member Jeremy Piercy with returned military mail during World War One - he explained that this was his main collection and said that there were many reasons for returned mail, including returned by the censor with labels and slips of paper which gave details of the reason for its return.  Jeremy showed a number of examples of such returned mail, one such example being that it included details of an air raid.

All the way from Newcastle we had Tony Walker - he was in York for The Great Britain Philatelic Society (GBPS) York Weekend, but decided to pay us a visit and very welcome he was to.  He said that there was a lot more to postal history than rates (something which we in the FPHS can all agree on !) and showed various naval items, including letters from various Admirals in WWI, which included picture postcards and photographs of the Admirals as well as letters; he also showed a selection of correspondence from a doctor who had qualified in Canada and who then joined the navy and who was eventually appointed as a ship’s doctor - HMS Canada (most appropriate !).  Tony also included a display of letters and covers from WWI about Dr David Henderson, a naval surgeon (1885-1966).

Richard Berry was our penultimate member to display who said that he was looking to building collection of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force 1914-18 (he showed four pages of such material) and the Belgian Army based in Germany in the mid-1970s (and he showed five pages of such material); this used the number POST 4090 and the display showed datestamps in the POST 4090 series used on official mail with various unit cachets.

Last to show was Ian Muchall who put up a small collection of RAF covers from South Africa in World War Two showing various RAF censor marks.  After which we retired for a short rest and then down to the restaurant with, in some cases, our other halves for our enjoyable 65th Anniversary meal.

Sunday morning - the meeting had already started by the time I got there and Richard Berry, Andrew Brooks and Peter High (Sino-Japanese War) had already displayed and so my apologies for not being in a position to take notes.

I (Michael Dobbs) was next to display and showed a selection of material from British Forces in the USA and Canada - this included mail from the British Joint Services Mission, which was later called the British Defence Staff Washington (BFPO 2) postmarked with Maritime Mail cancellations until an FPO was established there by 1986 using FPO 188; as well as CFB Goose Bay (BFPO 9) using FPO 260 and packet FPO 15 and the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) at CFB Suffield (BFPO 14) using FPO 518 and packet FPO 190 - all on private, official and philatelic mail.

Alan Baker put up three pages of the Japanese navy in the Mediterranean in 1917 - Japan sent a squadron of eight destroyers (their newest vessels) and a cruiser to assist the Allies as escort ships against German and Austrian submarines: on 11 March 1917, Admiral Sato Kozo aboard the cruiser Akashi and eight destroyers which made up the Second Special Squadron left Singapore and headed west and arrived at Malta on 13 April.

Next we had Geoff Hanney with one frame on which he showed a selection of picture postcards of Indian troops in WW I and a few Indian FPO covers - all were from the Western Front except for one postcard showing Brighton Pavilion.

Robert McMillan volunteered next with a display on the war in the Falkland Islands in 1982 starting with a Royal Mail notice of 2 April 1982 about the postal situation, he then went on to show a selection of photos of Royal Navy ships involved in the conflict with a Forces aerogramme (known as a bluey) associated with each.  He also showed several items of commercial mail and some official mail sent by the Argentines.

Then Alan Baker (again !) showing a selection of WW II Canadian bases with MPO cancellations with quite a few from the air training programme.

It was now time for Alistair Kennedy to display and he showed WW I mail from British and Empire forces on the Western Front as well as mail from the RNAS which became part of the newly formed Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918.  Empire forces included items from Indian Expeditionary Force ‘A’, New Zealand, Canadian and South African forces, Newfoundland contingent, Bermuda contingent, Royal Guernsey Militia (as a company within the Royal Irish Regiment) - all with British style FPO postmarks.  He also showed mail from the thousands of Chinese who had been recruited for use as labour troops on the Western Front.

Up next was Ian Muchall who showed material from the Allied invasion and occupation of Madagascar by the British in conjunction with South African forces.  There was a variety of postmarks shown - South African APO-U-MPK 51, East African APO 53, British FPOs 596 & 597, including examples on air letters and airgraphs.

Last to display was Andy Brooks again, this time with a small selection of Przemysl mail in the battle between Austro-Hungarian and Russian forces which included air mail postcards from the second siege

© Forces Postal History Society 2017