Zoom - 12 December 2020

We held another successful Zoom meeting in December which replaced our sadly cancelled Banstead meeting.  There were 10 members who displayed and we had 7 guests to view, one of whom has subsequently joined the Society, as well as our regular attendees.

Nick Colley was first to show with a selection of material from the Royal Netherlands Navy in WWII which included official Dutch stationery postmarked Sheerness, Kent 27 AU 1940; a cover from South Africa in 1942 to a Dutch naval officer in London with a Dutch Navy censor label (Daynes NL2), applied on re-direction from London; a cover from Solok in the Dutch East Indies in February 1941 to a Dutch seaman in the UK with two different Royal Netherlands Navy HQ censor datestamps (Daynes NF100 & NF101); two items from the Royal Dutch Naval Air Service - a cover from 1942 and a Christmas card; a 1944 cover from Ceylon to Sweden censor with Dutch naval censor (Daynes NF104); and a Dutch naval censored item from HNMS Van Kinsbergen in the West Indies, with a US postage stamp and cancelled US Navy JUN 27 1944.

Next to show was John Cranmer with a selection of WWII Canadian forces material (not serving in Europe) including a couple of covers from an RCAF airman serving in Annette Island, Alaska (APO 935) and postmarked with US army cancels in 1942; another 1942 cover from an RCAF airman this time at Fort Richardson, Anchorage in Alaska (APO 942); a cover from Kiska Island in the Aleutians postmarked CAPO 51 in 1943; another from the Veterans Guard of Canada in British Guiana also in 1943; a cover from a mother to a Canadian captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong in 1943 and transferred to a POW camp in Japan which took 14 months to arrive; a cover from one of some 11,000 Canadians who served in India during WWII; and a 1943 cover from an individual in the RCAF Woman’s Division (Force W in Newfoundland) postmarked CAPO No 1 in 1943; lastly a 1944 cover to a Canadian junior officer on “loan” to the British army under the ‘Canloan’ scheme.

Third up was Jim Etherington who showed incoming mail to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), but not from the UK, instead he showed material from the Empire and European countries (including Belgium, Greece, Hungary and Switzerland) to the BEF.  The first was a cover from Ostend in February 1940 to an officer at HQ 2 Base Sub-Area with an unusual boxed rectangular censor mark (Daynes M160) consisting of small circles used by the BEF Base Censor.  There was another one on a cover from Switzerland to the same officer - both had been opened and both re-sealed with a “Examined by Base Censor” label.  It appears on a third cover, this time from the USA in October 1939 to a soldier in the RE which appears to have reached him in January 1940 having been re-directed.  The same mark appears on other covers from Greece, Hungary and the USA.  He showed a over from Cyprus to a Cypriot serving in an RASC Transport Company (mule) and was one of 476 Cypriots who served in this capacity.  He also showed redirected mail from Egypt and British Honduras - altogether an unusual showing of material to the Forces and from somewhere other than the UK.

Next to display was our President, Richard Berry who provided a brief display on Rhodesia with an Australian connection.  Firstly the Rhodesian involvement in the Malayan Emergency of 1948-60 when Southern Rhodesia became involved for a second time during the period 1957 to 1958 when it sent the 1st Battalion, the Rhodesian African Rifles to fight alongside other Commonwealth troops.  This was a black regiment led by white officers.  Due to the involvement of Australian soldier from the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) and to avoid any confusion the abbreviation used by the Rhodesian African Rifles in Malaya was RhAR.  Richard displayed a slide showing various unit cachets on the backs of envelopes and some also printed with unit crests.  Then a cover from the Australian Contingent with the Commonwealth Ceasefire Monitoring forces in Rhodesia - postmarked with AFPO 10.

Our Journal Editor, Chris Grimshaw, then stepped up to show correspondence from POW camps in Bulgaria during WWI.  He started off by displaying a map of Bulgaria showing the location and number of the 15 camps and showed a variety of covers and postal stationery cards from and to POWs held in these camps and the various markings they contain - postal cancellations, censor and other cachets including numerals, the significance of which is not currently known.  It included a plain card sent to England as an acknowledgement for a parcel received, this being from a soldier at Philippolis camp who was part of a contingent of 74 other ranks and 7 officers who had been repatriated and had passed through Switzerland en-route for England on 16 September 1918.  There were also a couple of French-related items, postcards from and to French POWs held in Bulgaria.

It was then the turn of Ian Muchall, our Packet Secretary, who showed a selection of material connected with Luftwaffe pilots taken prisoner and sent to various POW camps in Canada during WWII.  The display starts with a photo of Unteroffizier Horst Perez’s aircraft after it had crashed following engine failure in 1939, then a lettersheet sent home to his family from POW Camp No 2 at Knutsford and then a further lettersheet and POW postcards sent from camps in Canada between 1941 and 1943.  Then there are lettersheets to Germany relating to other POWs in various camps in Canada 1942 to 1944, a couple of which had photos of the camps concerned showing the layout of the camps in question.  There were also a couple of covers from Germany to POWs in Canada in 1941 and 1943 with both German and Canadian censor tapes and other markings.

Next it was Colin Tabeart with three items to show - an undated WWII Royal Navy Christmas card from Levant, possibly 1943/44 sent to UK in an envelope with undated Post Office Maritime Mail cancellation; a 1941 illustrated Christmas Airgraph from HMS Martial, a shore base at Port Tewfik, Suez Canal and a more modern item - a cover with Christmas Island commemorative stamps and souvenir sheet postmarked on 24 December 2016 available to any member who wants it!

It was then the turn of Richard Farman who showed items relating to POW camps in WWI at Kegworth and Donington Hall near Derby - both were officer’s camps.  Items from Kegworth included a POW letter sheet to Germany, an envelope from a Naval Chief Paymaster with no postal or censor markings and a Red Cross parcel label from Germany to Kegworth.  Then to Donington Hall where he displayed various photographs showing prisoners being escorted to the camp, changing of the camp guard, arrival of mail and two officers playing chess.  Also mail to POWs in the camp showing censorship by both the German and British authorities; also included was a cover from a POW addressed to an officer on board the German battle cruiser SMS Seydlitz and a parcel post label to a POW at the camp with a written statement that it contained no written correspondence.  There was also a small selection of bundle labels a blue one with the mis-spelling of Donington Hall with two ‘nn’, two from APOs in France for letter bundles to Derby (one on the back of a NW Railway Div London Forward label) and lastly a newspaper photo showing parcels being opened in front of the POWs so that any prohibited articles could be confiscated, to prevent pilfering, any correspondence found to be sent to London for censoring and for all parcel wrappings to be destroyed.

Then it was the turn of US member Howard Weinert to show items connected with the German East Asia Squadron’s visits to Russia’s Pacific Ports 1882-1911.  The earliest were from 1882, on 3 kopek postcards from sailors aboard SMS Elisabeth at that time in Vladivostok; then an 1896 postcard sent from Vladivostok by a sailor on SMS Kaiser, via Japan; an 1897 postcard sent from Vladivostok by a sailor on SMS Arcona; a picture postcard of Vladivostok harbour sent in 1909 by a sailor on SMS Scharnhorst; and a 1911 Japanese illustrated envelope also from Vladivostok by a Chief Stoker on SMS Nurnberg.  Also shown were two postcards sent in 1898 from sailors aboard SMS Deutschland in which they state that they are currently at Korsakovsk but are due to leave this port and go to Alexandrovsk on Sakhalin Island.  Lastly an 1899 postcard sent from Korsakovsk by a sailor on SMS Gefion with the message “We are here in Siberia near the island of Sakhalin. There is a convict colony. Many of the prisoners speak German.”

Last to show was Julian Bagwell with a display of Christmas items, the first being a card from the Royal Naval Division on the Western Front in 1917; then an “Xmas Greetings” postcard from 7th Division in 1916 showing a soldier in the trenches; another Christmas postcard of Kara Tepe from the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force.  He also showed a couple of POW Christmas cards from 1915 and 1916 - one from a British POW at Doberitz to Southampton and another from a German POW at Dorchester to Hamburg.  He also showed a couple of items with Egyptian Xmas Seals from 1933 & 1935 shown in his display in our November Zoom meeting as well as covers which featured 1936 3 Milliemes King Fouad Army Stamps issued for Christmas - MPO Abu Qir on 17 November 1936 and a couple of covers posted in December 1939 cancelled with MPO E602 and E604; and lastly a 1940 cover with a printed Christmas greetings card inside which carried three 1 millieme Egyptian stamps but with an FPO 188 cancellation on 31 OC 40.

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

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