Zoom - 17 October 2020

For our October zoom meeting we had 8 showings of a wide variety of material and 21 members present - an increase on our previous meetings and this shows how popular our zoom meetings are becoming.  Long may that continue and I hope we will increase our audience.

We started off with Richard Farman showing some early naval mails including a letter from HMS Phoebe in 1812, and also mails associated with a Samuel Cook including a letter from the Navy Pay Office 1813 and also a letter from the Prize Department of the Navy Pay Office.  Samuel Cook was a Private with the Hereford Militia and there was a 1d concession rate letter of 1814 to his brother Edward Wire (I know not the same family name, but I was assured that it was his brother!).  Then we had Ingo Egerlandt from Germany showing British Expeditionary Force (BEF) mail, including covers where the FPO and censor cachet numbers had been obliterated by the Base Censor in 1939.  This was a security measure due to such mail being addressed to outside the UK (civil addresses in Belgium and France).  He also showed BEF mail to the USA postmarked FPO 30 on 2 June 1940 and a Krag machine cancellation on 26 APR 40.  Julian Bagwell was next with a mixture of mail relating largely to the Levant.  Starting pre-WW1 there was a 1906 postcard from G.F. Crawford at that time a boat pilot on the Bosporus with the write up containing an interesting story about his son Lt J.D.F. Crawford (read it to find out!), then a contemporary newspaper cutting and a cover to the Postmaster with the Bulgarian APO at Mustapha Pasha in 1912, but this was returned by the Turks due to war between the two nations.  Other mail included Gallipoli mail (APO SZ6) and a set of 1916 GB stamps with the unauthorised Levant overprint prepared by Lt Cdr Pirie-Gordon, a philatelist, which attracted the attention of King George V and lastly an OHMS cover with an ARMY TELEGRAPHS MW/MW datestamp of 24.XII.16 with the cachet of HMS Europa.

Fourth to display was our Treasurer Alan Baker who displayed seven postcards from various ships of the Austro-Hungarian navy in WW1.  There were three dreadnought battleships (SMS Viribus Unitis, Szent Istvan & Radetzky) and a pre-dreadnought battleship (SMS Zrinyi), a coastal defence battleship (SMS Monarch) together with an armoured cruiser (SMS Sankt Georg) and a light cruiser (SMS Aspern).  They were all well researched and written-up and included details of the operations they were involved in and their subsequent disposal after the end of the war.  He was followed by our Secretary Michael Dobbs who provided a display of British Forces Post Office Berlin postmarks (machine, steel, rubber and parcel) from their introduction on 12 June 1976 (to coincide with the Official Birthday of H.M. The Queen and also the 30th Anniversary of the Sovereign’s Birthday Parade in Berlin) which lasted less than a year before being replaced by a new design on 21 February 1977.  He also showed examples of a Deutsche Bundespost Berlin meter machine used in Berlin on official mail to German civilian addressees from around 1968 (earliest date recorded 26.9.68).

Here comes the Marines! Our Membership Secretary Chris Stephany-Weddell has a collection of Royal Marines related material and showed us a few, the earliest being a letter of 1762 sent by a Marine to his father from Belle Isle in France.  Also displayed was a printed letter of 1877 addressed to the Royal Marines Recruiting Service in Taunton on the payment of “smart money”; a 1d concessionary letter from a marine aboard HMS Hawke in Malta in 1897; two postcards addressed to a marine musician aboard HMS Effingham in 1940 and lastly a Christmas Airgraph from a marine aboard HMS Barham in 1941.  We then had our Packet Secretary Ian Muchall who provided a display on Madagascar of British and East African military post offices 1942-45. This comprised a brief introductory sheet and then a variety of covers, honour envelopes and postcards from FPOs 226 & 596 (the latter later at Majunga) and EAAPO 53 (which opened on 8 August 1942 as the base post office) all at Diégo-Suarez on mail addressed to the UK, South Africa or Kenya.  South African troops left Madagascar on 1 December 1942, although a small SA Engineering Unit remained until the following year.  The display included RAF mail and also an official cover from the British Naval Liaison Officer Diégo-Suarez postmarked EAAPO 53 in August 1945.  Last to show at this zoom presentation was Committee member Nick Colley who displayed a mixture of British and German naval and air forces mail in Belgium during WW1.  The first cover showed the cachet of the British Mission Belgian HQ with Union flag in the centre along with a censor cachet (of the type CEN  SOR with a large circle in the centre in which is displayed a unique symbol for the unit concerned).  There were several covers shown with this type of censor stamp with various symbols in the centre.  Also shown were a number of picture postcards of Zeebrugge harbour showing war damage.  We then moved on to German naval mail from Belgium including Zeebrugge and Antwerp and a postcard postmarked Feldflieger Abteilung 41 (FFA 41) in Ghent and another from FFA 28 in Brussels, both in 1914; then German air force mail and a letter sheet from Airship Troop No 12 at Namur in 1915.

You can view the material displayed on our website by opening the following link:  Meeting slides

© Forces Postal History Society 2020