3 February 2018

The John Daynes’ Plate Competition and Members’ Displays

We had six entries for this year’s competition, sadly one less than last year but we had a welcome entry from overseas - Australian member Gary Diffen.  This is an ideal opportunity to remind members overseas that they can submit good quality scans of their entry by email - all we ask is that they confirm that the material is from their own collection and that it is genuine.  I have received Gary’s permission to upload his entry onto our website and this can be seen along with the winning entry from Alan Baker and Nick Colley’s entry - three entries available to view online.

Voting, as usual, was by the members present at the meeting and the clear winner of the 2018 John Daynes’ Plate was our Treasurer Alan Baker with his entry on the “Portuguese Army on the Western Front (Corpo Expedicionário Português)”.  It told the history of the involvement of Portuguese units of the CEP in France in 1917-18.  The entry showed examples of mail to and from the troops and the circular datestamps and censor marks used on such mail.  The display can be seen online by clicking ‘here’.

A close second was Gary Diffen with his entry “The Australian Gallipoli Campaign: The Shortage of Writing Materials 20th May to 23rd August 1915”.  The Australian soldiers landed at ANZAC Cove on the 25th April 1915 and after three weeks of fighting many started to write home.  However, a shortage of writing materials developed and the troops, with “necessity being the mother of all invention” utilised their ingenuity to write home on ammunition boxes, fruit jam cards, cigarette packets, etc to send messages to loved ones.  This entry showed the broad range of materials used during this shortage from late May to late August 1915.  The display can be seen online by clicking ‘here’.

These two secured by far the largest number of votes than the remaining entries.  In third place was Peter High with his “Italian Hospital Ships of World War II”.  At the commencement of hostilities Italy had only two hospital ships in service.  Past experience of wars told Italy that they would soon require many more and this entry featured fifteen of those in service during this period.

The remaining three entries (in alphabetical order) were from:

Richard Berry FRPSL with an entry on “Internment in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe”.  This was a study of the internment arrangements during the Second World War and the period 1978 to 1982.

Michael Dobbs with an entry titled “Forces Christmas Cards 1944 to c.1958”.  This consisted of a selection of military Christmas cards produced by many different types of unit - large and small - from around the world from 1944 through to circa 1968.  The majority were from units in North West Europe, but the entry also included cards Greece, the Middle East and the island of Gan in the Indian Ocean.

Such material is considered to be ephemera - things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time: ‘there were papers, letters, old boxes - all sorts of ephemera’.  Objects that, when they were produced, were not intended to last a long time or were specially produced for one occasion: ‘Amongst other pop ephemera, the auction will be selling off rock stars’ stage clothes’

Nick Colley submitted an entry titled “The RAF in France and the UK, September 1939 to May 1940”.  This showed some examples of RAF mail in the UK and France during the ‘Phoney’ War of September 1939 to May 1940. Items shown included intra-service mail flown on service aircraft, (also an item of such mail detained in France during the occupation), and mail to and from serving RAF personnel in France. This included an example from the night flying training base at Perpignan. Two examples of (RAF) censored mail from Scotland in early 1940 were also presented. No presentation of the RAF during this period would be complete without an example of mail from Air Marshall Dowding, C-in-C Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. He was sent to the USA on a Purchasing Mission late in 1940, and the entry finishes with an item of mail from him in Washington DC in January 1941.  The display can be seen online by clicking ‘here’.

Following the Competition we had members’ displays as follows:  Michael Dobbs showed a selection of mail from the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) in the Sinai - a peninsula in Egypt, the only part of the country located in Asia and which borders Israel.  The display centred on British FPOs in the 1980s period, but it also included Australian, Fijian, French, New Zealand, Dutch and US forces mail as well as photographs of aircraft from the different contingents and a couple of Christmas cards.

Peter Burrows was next to show with a mixture of recently mounted up material and this included a series of correspondence from an individual in 1918; some comforts funds items from the Northern District Post Office and the Evening Express in Cardiff (who sent Welsh POWs Christmas puddings); American postcards from Italy - the American sent some troops to Italy, not many, but they produced a large number of pretty postcards.  The Australians had established POW camps for Germans and he showed an item from Liverpool POW Camp, New South Wales addressed to the Bureau of International Peace in Berne, Switzerland.  It had been founded in 1891 and is still going strong, but Peter had not heard of it before.  He also showed a couple of Toc H covers from South Africa, both from Air Schools (43 & 45); items from the Nottingham Comforts Funds and Mayor of Aylesbury comforts fund items; various naval cachets from Ceylon and a Dutch naval unit and an inter-camp letter from Polish Resettlement Camps (the first one he had seen) amongst a number of other miscellaneous items.

He was closely followed by another Peter - Peter O’Keeffe who also showed a mixture of items including WW2 POW mail Germany to Britain and vice-versa; A German “advice of capture” postcard from an Australian to NSW; a 1941 Christmas card produced by a British soldier and sent on 19 Dec 1941 with a special “Christmas tree” (censor? cachet.  a 1943 heavily censored postcard from a POW writing home to England from a Stalag in Poland; a 1944 postcard with splashes of two coloured swipes to identify any secret writings; an item from a British prisoner liberated by the Americans in Japan who was sent to Canada to await transport back to England and recovered POW mail from Germany.  Other items shown included a cover from a German civilian writing to a POW in the UK in 1947 which used a map an the envelope; two 1942 covers from with cachets “It is regretted that this could not be delivered because the addressee is reported deceased” and two 1942 POW postcards from brothers writing home to their mum and dad - one was Paul Gleed a POW held by the Italians and the other from his brother Peter Gleed from a German POW camp.

Next on the floor was our President, Richard Berry, who showed a selection of photographs of Australian troops taking part in the 1937 Coronation marching past Australia House in London and the changeover of the guard at Buckingham Palace from the Guards to the Australians; a 1940 re-used envelope to the Director of Public Works which originated from the Superintendent, Naval Base in Singapore and a request as he was looking for material on conscientious objectors - he showed two comic postcards to show the type of material he is looking for.

Peter High was next to show with his first foray into using A3 size sheets to mount and display material with two A3 sheets connected with a British hospital ship in WWI  - the Rohilla which was wrecked near Whitby in October 1914 en-route to France having broke in two during a bad storm, with the loss of 83 lives.  The vessel had been requisitioned and sent along the east coast due to poor lighting, it was a British India Steam Navigation Co vessel where it was used in 1908 as a troopship and in 1914 had been requisitioned as a hospital ship.  Peter was fortunate in that a book had been written “Into the Maelstrom: The Wreck of HMHS Rohilla” by Colin Brittain (The History Press, 2014).  A number of photographs of the wreck had been turned into postcards.

Lastly we had Robert Hurst, Secretary of the Redhill Philatelic Society and who joined the Society at last years War & Philately event in Banstead.  He showed a small collection of pre-WWII US Naval mail for his first showing to the Society.  He explained that America passed an Act in 1908 to establish a post office onboard their naval vessels.  His selection included the USS Arctic (a supply vessel) with one inward cover and various other covers; commemorative covers from naval vessels in 1934, 1935 and 1937 - the majority of ships postmarks in this period included the name of the port visited within the gaps of the killer bars.  He also showed some official mail from US naval vessels in 1928 and 1935, as well as a 1928 registered cover.

© Forces Postal History Society 2018