27th March 2021 - Zoom meeting - Questions & Answers
Our March meeting was advertised as a Q&A meeting and included member’s questions, in the hope of getting responses, and displays in the event we didn’t have enough questions to answer! There was a wide variety of material shown and it attracted an audience of some 35 members.
The session started off with Nick Colley showing an item he had placed on our Forum - machine cancellation LONDON BATT. / TEMPY.OFFICE No 2. This was answered on the Forum with the help of Michael Dobbs who had contacted an individual in the British Postmark Society who is compiling a book on UK Universal machine cancellations. So take a look at our Forum (members only) for further details of this type of machine cancellation used in London. He was followed by Richard Berry (now our Immediate Past President) who showed a 1958 military cover from Ifni, a fortress in Spanish Morocco; this had a military crest and unit title printed on the reverse. This was associated with a little known conflict known as the Ifni War in 1957, after which most of the territory became occupied de facto by Morocco. In 1958, the colony was made into a Spanish province, but on 30 June 1969 Spain formally returned the territory to Morocco. Mike White commented that he had seen similar material and thought it to be garrison mail.
Richard Farman was next to show and his display featured RAF Camps in Staffordshire during the 1940s and 1950s - including Hednesford, Hixon, Lichfield, Cosford and Stafford. The majority of mail shown was registered items, including registered envelopes and a registered parcel post label (RAF Form 2036) from Hednesford, all with a variety of registration labels. Other mail was from Nos 16 and 21 Maintenance Units.
Nick Colley featured again, this time with a display of postcards and covers on WW2 Italian submarine mail - most submarines had their own postmark or used a Group postmark. He did have a question - a cover addressed to a German submariner POW which had a red cachet REJECTED mark applied - he wanted to know what happened to such mail. Various responses suggested that the mark was applied in Canada and also referred Nick to a book on various rejected markings (details not given at the time).
Next to show was Peter Jones with a selection of mail and ephemera connected to naval vessels on which his father had served (not necessarily during the time he served). It included cachets of ships involved in naval visits during the 1930s, a booklet given to visitors aboard HMS Courageous and a handwritten letter on Buckingham Palace notepaper (with a line through the name and crest and a civil address inserted) from a writer connected with HMS Vanguard in 1947. Peter was looking for information as to who the person was and his connected with the vessel. It appears that work was being undertaken as the vessel would be used to house members of the Royal Family on a tour to South Africa (I think I’ve remembered it correctly!).
Then it was the turn of Alan Baker who showed covers and postcards from of the various German battleships involved in the Battle of Jutland, most of which were scuttled. He started off his display with a postcard of Rear-Admiral Paul Behncke, Commander of 3rd Battle Squadron then showed items from the battle ships involved in Jutland, together with a bit of history of the ship concerned. Each had its own Marine-Schiffspost numbered datestamp. He was followed by Ian Muchall with a selection of RAF/RCAF mail starting with several from WW2 before going back in time to a couple of items from WW1. Each had a query, including a suspected fake RAF censor mark (not previously recorded) with a stamp cancelled with an undated MARITIME MAIL handstamp. He also showed three pieces with Dominican stamps cancelled with FIELD POST OFFICE 642 in February 1946 - the only problem being FPO 642 was in Italy and it is thought that these stamps were cancelled ‘per favour’.
Julian Bagwell had one item to show with a query - a cover from Egypt posted at the Military PO in Alexandria on 20.II.35 and addressed to No 4 Field Ambulance in Egypt. It had a British Forces Letter Stamp on the reverse cancelled with a ‘retta’ cancellation by the Egyptian postal authorities. However, it had a London FS datestamp applied on 28 FE 46 and an Egyptian arrival MPO Cairo datestamp of 6 MR 36 - his query, why did it end up in London? Martino Laurenzi also had a couple of queries - the first was a WW2 cover addressed to Zurich, but it was clearly censored in Rome several months into the war. How could this have occurred? He had another one which has pretty much the same date and is addressed to Geneva. His guess was that there must have been a mistake in Lisbon and one bag of GB mail to Switzerland must have ended up on the wrong plane - or what else? His other query was from WW1 - it concerned GB stamps overprinted LEVANT and he wanted to know of anyone could shed some light on the postmark. He had already presented this at a GBPS Zoom meeting but wanted to know if any FPHS members were able to shed some light on it? (see the online presentations for views of these items).
The next display was by Chris Grimshaw and was titled “A Families’ Hope, Tragedy & Despair” and was correspondence sent to Lt Andrew Bulman who was involved in the Gallipoli Campaign. It appears that his family had been notified he was missing / killed in action but lived in hope that he was a prisoner of war. As a result his mother kept writing to him with mail addressed to his military address with the addition of “Central Post Office, Constantinople”. She wrote in July, September and November 1915 and January 1916; these were censored by Turkey and returned to UK with various cachets. He was in fact killed in action on 12 July 1915 and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial. The next showing was three covers from Karl Winkelmann all posted in 1939; two were from Prague (Prag) to the USA and the third was from Hong Kong to Germany. As well as being censored in either Prague or Germany with cachets to show, they all bore the cachet CONTROLE POSTAL NAVAL and his take on these was that they are mail from French ships that were under British control by the Admiralty authorized by the “Contraband Control” law of September 1939. The final display was from Geoff Hanney in which he explained that he was looking to update and produce a revised Camp postmarks book - the original being “Camp Postmarks of the United Kingdom” by Reg Kingston which is now some 50 years old. In doing so he is also incorporating the information contained on Alistair Kennedy’s file cards which he has scanned - some 288 scans (two cards per scan) and he is in the processing to extracting the information and placing it in a spreadsheet - but Alistair’s writing is not the easiest read! All this information is going into a spreadsheet and he showed examples. He is also looking through a number of other printed resources (e.g. publications on county postmarks) and as well as any new discoveries he is looking to extend periods of use. This is a major piece of work, but it will take time to research and complete. It is likely that it will be made available in electronic format only, due to its potential size.
You can view the material displayed on our website by opening the following links:
This first presentation includes members question and displays, including the Royal Navy, RAF Camps in Staffordshire, Italian & German Navy WW1 & WW2 including Operation Pedestal to Malta