Zoom - 19 November 2020 (Thurs)

For our November zoom meeting we had 5 showings on a wide variety of topics and 21 members present - a slight increase on our previous meeting.  As usual the displays were from members collections with no specific theme for the meeting.

Our first display was a special display covering 53 pages from our Journal Editor Chris Grimshaw who showed various facets of Parcel Post mail in WW1.  This display was to highlight a study which he currently undertaking - that is military parcel post rates during WW1 and after.  This topic is very much under researched and items are scarce.  In the long term Chris is hoping to publish something on these rates and labels.  He showed a variety of items, some in his own collection, also from other collections or auction or online material.  By their very nature items of such mail are torn pieces from parcels showing the parcel label and the addressee or else cut-outs of parcel labels or parcel datestamps - there being a variety of labels and rates.  He showed mail from the Western Front, Italy, Egypt, Salonika, Russia, the occupation of Germany and other places.

Next we had Julian Bagwell showing British Forces in Egypt 1932-41, commencing with the introduction of new postal rates and seals introduced on 1 November 1932.  The seals were placed on the back of envelopes and cancelled with a ‘retta’ cancellation by the Egyptian postal authorities.  For more information on ‘retta’ cancellations see FPHS newsletter 69 (September/October 1964).  Initially the seals carried the wording “Postal Seal” but in 1933 new printings carried the wording “Letter Seal” with Christmas issues worded “Xmas Seal”.  With new designs in 1934 the wording was changed yet again, this time to “Letter Stamp”; Julian’s display included examples of all these both on and off cover, showing the postal markings and Egypt Postal Prepaid franks on the front of covers.  He also showed overprints for the 1935 King George V Jubilee and Xmas 1935 as well as the 1935 “Xmas Seal” issues.  For 1936 onwards a completely new design featuring King Fouad and later King Farouk were issued and as they were Egyptian stamps, albeit for Forces use only, they were placed on the front of envelopes and cancelled with MPO cancellations.  These stamps continued in use until withdrawn in April 1941.

Ingo Egerlandt was next to show and his display was Southern Rhodesia 3d Active Service Letter Cards 1941-1945; the display showed the various issues starting with the first issue on 17 November 1941 all the way through to the 5th issue sometime in 1944 (exact date not known).  The were almost all identical the main differences being the type of paper printed on, whether or not there was a printed overlay on the inside and a change in printed text on the front from the original “If anything is enclosed, this card will be sent by ordinary mail.” to a revised text from the 4th issue in 1944 of “If anything is enclosed, or if it is addressed by a civilian to a civilian this card will be sent by ordinary mail * * * * * *”.

Your Hon Secretary, Michael Dobbs, was the fourth member to display with a brief history and showing of items connected with the “e-Bluey” service which operated from December 1999 until 31 March 2017.  This was an electronic means whereby families and friends could communicate with Service personnel on operational duties or certain exercises in various parts of the world with the aim of achieving a faster service than using the air mail “bluey” aerogrammes.  It was initially run in conjunction with Royal Mail’s RelayOne but this was not a commercial success for Royal Mail and so after a year the BFPO set up a contract with an American firm called SuperLetter.Com.  Items shown included an e-bluey sent in 2006 to a civilian address in Germany via BFPO 100 and known as a “pay-bluey” as such addresses were not covered by the MoD Welfare Policy for free e-blueys; an e-buey sent to the UK from Al Udeid AB in Qatar (BFPO 639) in 2007; e-blueys to and from a naval ship in 2012 (HMS Illustrious on Exercise Cougar 12, a three-month deployment to the Mediterranean to train with French and Albanian maritime forces) and a blank e-bluey to showing the front of the (almost) blank form.  Lastly, there was the final e-bluey despatch which took place on 31 March 2017 which had a commemorative datestamp applied by the British Forces Post Office Philatelic Bureau BFPO 707.  Postage was paid by use of postage paid impression HQ 334, licensed to the Ministry of Defence and came from Kabul International Airport (North) in Afghanistan (BFPO 798).

Our final display came from Richard Farman on the topic of WW1 Parcel Post from military establishments in the UK and associated material.  This included a registered bag label from APO 2 in Rouen to Dover which contained three parcels; picture postcards from various locations in France which mentioned the posting of parcels in the text; a postal censorship postcard sent to a soldier’s wife telling her she had infringed revised regulations for sending parcels to POWs and various parcel labels from UK locations, including camps with additional material such as picture postcards of said camps, including the shore establishment HMS Excellent at Whale Island; a printed postcard sent to a Royal Malta Artillery officer in the EEF from the BAPO in Alexandria concerning compensation for an undelivered parcel and lastly a PP20 customs declaration and PP6 parcel post label on piece along with postage stamps posted in APO S40 in Cologne in 1923 addressed to Washington DC in the USA.

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

© Forces Postal History Society 2020