10 November 2018

 New Acquisitions & Queries 

Prior to the start of the meeting our President, Richard Berry, led a minutes silence to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice in 1918 that signalled the end of the First World War.  Remembrance Sunday was the following day which was on the 100th anniversary date of the signing of the Armistice in 1918 - on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Following this Michael Dobbs gave a short resume of the activities of a small group of members in supporting the family of the late Alistair Kennedy in clearing his flat and finding and putting to one side items of philatelic interest for future sale through Argyll Etkin.  This is likely to take a very, very long time to complete due to the state of the flat and the amount of material involved once it has been found and sorted.  Photos showing the inside of the flat and the work we are having to do were also displayed to try and bring home to members the enormity of the job and how not to let your home get into such a state.

On a lighter note Michael also mentioned that it was Lorraine Maguire’s 80th birthday that day, but sadly she was not at the meeting to receive her 80 bumps !  She was obviously more sensible and was celebrating her birthday with friends elsewhere !

Following on from these items we came to the displays proper - Frank Schofield couldn’t be with us that day but he did provide a display on a new theme “Armistice Day 1918” which was very fitting considering we were meeting on the day before the 100th anniversary of that historic day.  His first page comprised a Naval Signal from the C-in-C Grand Fleet (Admiral Beatty) timed at 1255, dated 11.11.18 and signed by G A Taylor, CYS (Chief Yeoman of Signals).  The display sheets featured a poppy in the top right of each page and a close-up of poppies in a field in the bottom left.  All the pages also featured the following text in the top left “At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month - it was all over” and the bottom right “But in 1939 it started all over again”.  There were a couple of postcards with the FPO a Krag machine dated 11 NOV 18; a cover from Salonika on 29 October 1918 which arrived in London on Armistice Day; several items from the British Army in Italy either postmarked or written on Armistice Day from a variety of FPOs; a couple of items connected with the Royal Army Medical Corps - a cover addressed to a Private RAMC in France postmarked on Armistice Day but eventually returned to sender and the other written and censored by a Captain RAMC who died on Armistice Day in Africa. Lastly a cover posted on the Western Front and cancelled APO S.66 on Armistice Day but the location of S.66 at this time is unknown and a German POW card for Belgian prisoners which appears to have been cancelled by favour on Armistice Day with a Belgian Quevaucamps postmark (a small Belgian village near Mons) and FPO TW.5 on a British ½d stamp.  This was a fascinating small niche collection well written up and mounted.

2018 Nov 10 Naval Signal

Next to show was Michael Dobbs who displayed various post-war British FPO covers, including official registered mail, from Germany, Gibraltar, Egypt and Ascension Island; included was a Displaced Persons Field Post Card which he purchased from a dealer at Praga 2018 - the only one he had ever seen.  He also showed examples of the British Forces Post Service 1000 datestamp used on special occasions including its first time use at the British Stamp Exhibition in Rheindahlen Garrison in December 1966, along with a Bundespost special datestamp for the same event.  The datestamp has changed design over the years and he showed examples from 1967, 1968, 1986, 1995 and 2015 as examples of recent acquisitions.  Lastly he showed three pages relating to recent NATO acquisitions which included special datestamps or machine cancellations for North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meetings held in Paris in 1960, 1962 and 1966 and a cover with special slogan cancellation from Greece marking the 5th Anniversary of NATO.

Third to show was Peter High who said that he bought very few items in this country and that his purchases were mainly from eBay.  He started off by showing an item from the Koningin Regentes, a Dutch ferry or mail steamer which eventually became a private hospital ship during WW1.  In 1918 it was chartered by the Admiralty to ferry severely wounded POWs between Holland and Boston in Lincolnshire.  This was one of two mail steamers which operated this service.  She was stopped by a German submarine on 10 November 1916, escorted into Zeebrugge and later Ostend and mail off-loaded and taken to Berlin where it was kept for three years.  The ship was released on 17 December and regular mail service was abandoned.  The vessel whilst serving as a hospital ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine UB107 on 6 June 1918 with a loss of seven lives.  The rest of his display was taken up with hospital ships !  One included an Ebani cachet not seen before in over 40 years of collecting on a postcard of a ward on HMHS Ebani.  Another was a photo of HMHT Suntemple at Constantinople in 1923, but he could not find anything of such a hospital ship.  In the 1967 Biafran War the Dutch Red Cross chartered and provided a vessel to take supplies to Biafra and the captain decided to produce some covers.  He had a cover with a cachet from the hosp ship Ellora, the only item he had seen from this vessel, but then came across a letter on headed notepaper from the vessel, complete with a photo taken by an officer onboard.  Lastly he showed a selection of items from Italian hospital ships, including the Gradisca, Sicilia, Liguria and Arno as well as from the Canadian ship Letitia and Australian vessel Kairoola.

Peter Burrows was next in line with a mixture of recent acquisitions, far too many to detail here !  A few items included a WW1 censored official mail from the military censor at Eastern telegraphs Alexandria; a leaflet about collecting funds for US troops in WW1 “Cheer the Boys Somewhere in France”; a 1943 Xmas card from the Air Force in Ceylon; a selection of New Zealand Red Cross cards; a WW2 item from No 32 British Field Censorship Unit in Cairo; Armee Francaise from the US - the French sent personnel over to the US in 1944 to train as pilots and here was a selection of censored covers; WW2 fund raising activities and a pigeon post item; a plain air letter sheet from the Royal Marines during the troubles in Borneo during the 1960s; official mail from Hong Kong 1994 & 1996

Then it was the turn of Robin Davis who showed three covers from the American Civil War, which included two from the steamship USS Daylight; then it was on to Cyprus with post Suez campaign material; during the Suez invasion of 1956 incoming mail to Cyprus was delayed and he showed material from this period; during the EOKA campaign of 1955-59 there was “ENOSIS” support mail; and following the Turkish invasion of north Cyprus in July 1974 mail was diverted and he showed a number of examples of this.  

Cliff Gregory was next to show and his material concerned the WW1 POW camp at Ahmednagar in India.  He showed two items posted in 1919 on normal India postal stationery.  The first wishing Happy Christmas and the second Happy New Year 1920 !  He also showed an item from the Abyssinian Field Force - possibly the earliest recorded item from this FF.  It was cover from Brigadier General Merewether posted in April 1868 and received in London on 18 May 1868.

We then welcomed back Eddie Weeks whom we hadn’t seen for a considerable long time - he is interested in railways, airways and ships and he had three Forces queries concerning hospital ship covers.  I must confess that I didn’t record the exact queries or if he managed to obtains some answers !

Lastly we had our President, Richard Berry, who confessed that he was not about to show any postal history but instead showed some wartime artwork by a cartoonist called Maroc - real name Robert Coram (spelt backwards - Maroc).  The artwork comprised preliminary drawings in pencil and dated from around 1943.  From 1938 Coram was a regular contributor to Punch and during the Second World War he served in the National Fire Service and was a member of the Fireman Artists Committee, through which he organized several wartime exhibitions of art by firemen.  A great deal of his artwork is held in the British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

© Forces Postal History Society 2018