September 2004

Report of the meeting of September 18, 2004


Our annual get together in the Gasgoine Room at the Union Jack Club (that's the large and roomy meeting venue downstairs) where we put on a variety of activities to entice members away from their cosy firesides or the garden if it's a sunny day ! For the morning session there was a 'live' auction again organised by Ben Ferguson - his last as due to failing eyesight he has had to give up. Running the auction were Peter High as auctioneer ably assisted by Alistair Kennedy who did the necessary bookkeeping. A sometimes lively affair with keen bidding on a few choice items, a large number of lots were sold at or just above their reserve price. This was a purely venue auction only, with no postal bidders - but we have agreed that as far as possible we should send out the auction lists with the Newsletter. Whilst the auction was underway there were static displays from various members around the room and Peter High had his annual book sale going on all-day, with many bargains to be had.

After lunch (either in the reasonably priced dinning room or a beer and sandwich in the bar) we were treated to fascinating mini-display of items from the Crimea by Derek Hepworth, FRPSL. Derek reminded us that Britain and France had decided to "do away" with the Russian threat to their interests in the region and Britain was not prepared to see any change in the balance of power. They therefore decided to send a joint expedition to the region to support Turkey. He showed a letter from Lord Raglan and another one from Canon, Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish Army - this makes it the only known Turkish military cover of the period. Other material displayed included items from the Scutari hospitals with the famous OXO mark from that location. Another well known Crimean mark displayed was the crown between stars. He also displayed a letter from a vetinary surgeon from the 11th Hussars who had lost almost all his horses in the charge of the Light Brigade. Also shown was mail from the Black Sea fleet. An unusual association with the Crimean War was items from the Anglo-French fleet sent to the Baltic to attack Russian installations at Helsinki and Cronstadt - mail to and from the Baltic fleet was shown, including HMS Duke of Wellington. The French handled some of the British mail from the Crimea - it went via Marseilles. Derek also showed mail from the French - including the Army mark at Sevastopol and French Maritime marks.

Derek was also persuaded to show a few items from the Boer War. He had chosen the Orange Free State and free Commando mail. This consisted of yellow O.V.S labels known as Commando briefs - these were shown used on covers as well as in sheets. Derek also showed War Telegrams including one from the Orange Free State Artillery. Other members who displayed during the afternoon includes John Leathes with ephemera associated with submarines, including:- May 1918 muster list for the Austrian Dampher VII; a Return of extra food rations for U-27 in September 1918; discharge papers for a submariner from UB-87; a WW2 German submarine casualty report and a paper on the final pay of a sailor who was missing presumed killed on 1 June 1943. He also showed a cover from the Captain of the U-534 which is now on display in Birkenhead. Bill Collingwood showed covers flown by the US Army in the USA during 1934:- that year all airmail contracts had been cancelled due to collusion between the previous administration and the airlines. In February of that year the US Army took over responsibility for flying all airmail in the USA pending the awarding of new contracts. One item was a cover from the first flight from Miami to NY which crashed- a double being a first flight and a first crash cover all in one ! By June of that year new contracts with civilian airlines had been awarded. Peter O'Keeffe displayed WW1 registered items from Fleet Post Office 'A' as well as Army Post Office 1 in Shanghai during 1928. Lastly he put up a set of 12 picture postcards issued by the War Savings Department during WW1.

Another very enjoyable "All-day" meeting with something for everyone - particularly the auction lots. Peter High had a wide range of books and other publications for sale - both philatelic and non-philatelic. There were plenty of experts on hand to answer queries and questions. Our only disappointment was the turnout which was only marginally more than for our normal Saturday afternoon meetings. We hold an all-day event to try and make it worthwhile for those travelling from further a field. We consider the meeting venue to be value for money and comfortable with excellent amenities in terms of a restaurant and bar available for members use. Far more importantly we consider the company of fellow members convivial - entertaining and informative. Please consider joining us during 2005.

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