July 2012

Report on the Meeting of 20th - 22nd July 2012 

York Weekend 60th Anniversary Conference

The York Weekend Conference was specifically arranged to coincide with the York Stamp & Coin Fair at the nearby Grandstand, York Racecourse and was also intended to give us a break from the 2012 Olympics build-up!  Because the Fair started on Friday there were a few of us who arrived Thursday evening, but because of other commitments I didn’t manage to see anyone until our welcoming drinks Friday evening.  Afterwards members had dinner in the hotel restaurant (or most members did) prior to the evenings displays in the room set aside for us.  One person who did not join us was our President (Peter High) who had accepted an invitation to display from the then President of the Bridlington PS (our Auction Manager Stephen Dunderdale - by the time of the display his period of office expired and he is now Secretary of the Bridlington PS).  Peter’s display was “Hospital Ships - a postal History”.  Stephen stated Peter did offer to give part II, but was not sure if that was just to get another portion of Yorkshire fish and chips in the restaurant overlooking the harbour !  Both Peter and Stephen joined us in the bar at York later in the evening.  The weekend was a tremendous success and on behalf of our President, Officers and Committee I would like to thank Ian Muchall for the superb work he did in organising the event and his liaison with the hotel which ensured everything went smoothly which enabled us to have a successful 60th Anniversary event.

We had invited local member John Fowler (formerly Editor of the British Postmark Society Journal which he edited for 7 years) to provide an after-dinner display prior to “open-house” from members.  John produced an A5 booklet of his 39-page display which I shall place in our Library once I have written this !  John recalled that he joined the Society in the 1970’s, but left when commuting took up a lot of his time and only rejoined after his retirement.  He had been collecting postmarks for over 50 years and during the 1960’s bought mixed lots from Rigby Postal History auctions and Austro-Hungarian items from Keith Tranmer (which he has still to mount !).  The display was intended to show a little of the vast range of collecting interests open to the Forces postal history enthusiast.  He started off with a cover with Naval Censor No 1, the short-lived square with anchor, next came three covers from ships that were involved in the Battle of Jutland in 1915 (although the covers themselves had no connection with the battle).  He also showed various British Army postmarks from the Boer-War; Army Camps in GB; Field Service Post Cards; British Forces postal arrangements in Egypt 1932-33; WW2 French Military Hospitals; Swedish Forces mail; Swiss Army 1917 & 1943; US Forces Fiji 1943; British POW stationery to British POWs and from German POWs in the Middle East and GB; Airgraphs; Austrians with UNFICYP; Forces Courier Service together with various RAF-related material.  All-in-all a varied mixture, with something to suit everyone.

Alan Green showed French Naval Posts in Malta WW1.  As a result of a treaty with Britain, France became responsible for patrolling the Mediterranean and established a base there for operations in the Adriatic and Aegean.  The 1st Fleet deployed to Malta and he showed early mail, being naval bag mail.  By the end of 1914 France fitted out a ship as a depot ship for submarines and it had a mail-room onboard with its own distinctive marking which featured small Maltese crosses in the design.  He also showed scarce incoming mail to Malta.  He also showed one page each of French Army and French Air Force posts connected with Malta.  

Tony Plumbe showed the Nyasaland Field Force WW1.  Through his material he charted the use of military cancels associated with the Force that invaded what was known as German East Africa.  The display started with the use of civilian cancels on military mail and moved chronologically through the various FPO cancels brought into use.  Early ones used ‘FF’ cancels and later two local cancels were transformed into FPO cancels.  Various Military Telegraph forms inscribed “MILITARY TELEGRAPHS N.F.F.” were shown together with other telegraph and memo forms printed with the crests of different units, including the Prisoner of War Internment Camp Blantyre, Nyasaland.  He also showed registered mail with the pink NFF1 / NYASALAND labels.

Andrew Brooks showed WW1 - mainly YMCA cards and headed letter forms.  The YMCA was started in the 19th Century as an organisation; the organiser, Arthur Yapp, decided to change the motif to a triangle and he got involved in the Western Front late 1914.  The YMCA later printed headed envelopes and also produced Christmas cards.  He also showed YMCA stationery for the American Forces.  This included a postcard from the “First American Troops to land in France and the last to go home” !  Also one headed “Troop Train Service” with the YMCA crest.  There were other YMCA envelopes from US forces.  He also showed a cover with the crest of the American YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association).  Other organisations on display were Scottish Huts, Church Army Recreation Huts (envelopes and headed letter sheets) as well as British Red Cross Society envelopes and cards; also from BRCS Canadian Branch; British Red Cross and Order of St John; Australian Comforts Fund crested envelopes and Church Army Recreation Hut or Tent letter headed note-paper.

We had no displays on Saturday as the day was taken up with the opportunity to visit the York Stamp & Coin Fair, sightseeing in York or even the local car-boot sale nearby in the grounds of the race-course !  Saturday evening was taken up with the 60th Anniversary dinner in our own private dining room where some 30 members and guests enjoyed a lovely 3-course dinner.  Afterwards some of us retired to the bar for an evening of drinks and chit-chat !

For Sunday we had the following displays: Jim Etherington, not thematic this time, more Forces history than postal history.  A friend had told him about letter from his father and suggested that Jim would be interested in the postal markings.  Some covers were in a poor condition, torn, stamps removed, etc.  He soon realised that it was a significant correspondence with over 200 letters from January 1942 until March 1946.  The letters were very detailed with accounts of his war service and close relationships with his family.  He was slowly transcribing them with a view to some form of publication, but had only got as far as early 1943 whilst he was still in the UK.  For his display Jim had picked out a variety of covers and letters, including one written immediately after Kohima 1944.  Next up was 

Chris Grimshaw who said that there were two Mediterranean expeditionary forces called Z and Y and he displayed a selection of mail from Base APO Y which was the BAPO for the Dardanelles.  After two deployments aboard troopships (HMT Arcadian and HMT Aragon) the BAPO was based on the island of Mudros until it moved to Egypt.  He also showed the currently only recorded example of a red envelope used in the Dardanelles.  

Neil Russell showed Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in Malaya during 1942, known as Second AIF and had brought along a selection taken out of a much larger collection on the subject.  His display covered four FPOs (AIF FIELD P.O. 17, 18, 19 & 20); two Base APOs (AUST BASE P.O. 26 & 28) together with five Singapore FPOs (SP501 to SP 505) covers only (both plain and charity covers from YMCA, ACF and Salvation Army) as well as a variety of Air Mail Letter Cards as postcards are not known.  He highlighted the different printings on the AMLCs, different franking (Malayan stamps) as well as a number of different censor markings (British, Australian, RAF and RN).  

Steve Dunderdale showed a series of postcards of Scarborough in 1914 when the German Fleet sailed across the North Sea and three ships laid mines off the coast and bombarded the town.  A local newspaper issued a local medal to raise funds to help with the repairs.  The only batteries were along the coast a Hull and Hartlepool; all Scarborough had was a wireless station.  

Frank Schofield showed miscellaneous naval items which included a copy of the very rare “Received from HM Ships” Portsmouth & Southsea dated 14 OCT 1937 from HMS Hood.  He also showed an Air Letter from HM Ships with a “DO NOT WRITE IN THIS SPACE” on the back of the address side with a previously unreported naval censor mark as well as a new book published in 2011 “Unsung Heroes of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines - The Far East Prisoners of War 1941-45” by Pan Stubbs (a listing of all such POWs).  

Graham Mark displayed items connected with the Easter Rising in Dublin during 1916, with postcards and covers, including picture pc’s showing the destruction caused by the rising.  Covers showed use of the roller cancel and parcel cancels prior to the introduction of the Dolphin machine cancellation.  He showed a selection of censored mail from Ireland, together with some military mail, including a military pass issued for a restricted area.  Co Clare was declared a Special Military Area on 27/2/1918.

The main display of Sunday was given over to Tony Walker who showed “The Battle of the Falkland Islands: December 1914”.  The displayed started as far back as 1898 with the establishment of a German colony on the south China coast at Kiautschou, where von Spee and his Asian squadron were based at the outset of the war.  His adversary at Coronel was Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock who commanded the Fourth Cruiser Squadron in the North Atlantic.  Cradock sailed south to the Falklands, then round Cape Horn to meet von Spee some 40 miles off the Chilean coat at Coronel.  Cards and covers from the British Squadron including very scarce HMS Good Hope items annotate the course of the battle and Cradock’s loss of life with 1500 of his men.  This was followed by items from HMS Macedonia, a requisitioned P&O liner, from one of her signalmen (Frank Smith) as she made her way to the Falklands to joint the task force seeking revenge for Coronel.  This task force was commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee on board HMS Invincible.  Censored mail from the ships of this force was shown, together with unique contemporary correspondence and other items.  Graf von Spee’s ships were sighted on the morning of 8th December 1914 and the battle commenced.  The sinking of all bar one of the German ships was detailed and supported by subsequent POW mail from the 250 or so survivors from the entire German squadron.  The British losses of 8 men were buried at Port Stanley, illustrated by a scarce set of postcards.  Around 2700 German sailors lost their lives.  Sturdee set HMS Glasgow, Kent and the AMC Orama in pursuit of the Dresden and items from these ships mailed during the chase were shown, together with a unique artefact from Dresden, which was finally cornered and sunk off the Chilean coast in March 1915, the demise recorded on postcards.  The display concluded with material from Montevideo (Uruguay) soon after the battle, where the victorious Sturdee and his captains were entertained by the British community and later post war items celebrating the victory, including the signature of Winston Churchill on a related naval occasion.  Thank you Tony for such a splendid display and talk.

Lastly, we had 12 entries for the 9-sheet mini-competition, but once again it was won by Andrew Brooks with Chris Grimshaw and Tony Walker coming equal second (illustrations of the winning entry can be found on our website).  Congratulations to all concerned - the full list of entries was as follows:


1.      Sarawak - Official Stampless Covers                                 Bernard Lardner

 2.      Overland Route to the East 1917-1919                              Andrew Brooks

 3.      Unoccupied Belgium WW1                                                   Alistair Kennedy

 4.      HQ ACE Mobile Force (Land)                                               Michael Dobbs

 5.      WW1 Mail                                                                                  Peter O’Keeffe

 6.      British Hospital Ships WW1                                                 Peter High

 7.      Queen Victoria Postal Stationery during Boer War           Chris Grimshaw

 8.      Censor Marks of the RN Depot & Repair Ships WW1     Frank Schofield

 9.      British Navy WW1 Registered Mail                                      Tony Walker

 10.    Cyprus Refugee Camps from July 1974                            Robin Davis

 11.    Prisoners of War 1914-19 York                                            Graham Mark

 12.    The RAF in India WW2                                                           Ian Muchall*** View the winning entry - Follow this link ***


APS Stamp Show 2012 Gold Award to Tony Walker:

 "The Battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914 in WWI"

 For those of you who attended the York Weekend 60th Anniversary Conference in July were privileged to see Tony Walker's exhibit and hear is commentary on it - a review of it was given in the last Society News Supplement. Well, I am pleased to say that it went on to greater things and Tony was awarded a GOLD at the annual American Philatelic Society Stamp Show in Sacramento in August. Congratulations Tony and my thanks to Steve McGill, President of the Great Britain Collectors Club for providing the following information:

 The American Philatelic Society (APS) Stamp Show is the largest annual event in the USA held every August in different states; for 2012 it was held in Sacramento, California. The APS Stamp Show is the top show for awards in the USA. This is the show where the Grand Champion award winners from the 30+ regional shows are invited to compete for the Champion of Champions.

 The 2012 APS Stamp Show exhibit jury presented a Gold award to Tony Walker's exhibit "The Battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914 in WWI". This exhibit was entered under the "Postal" category of exhibits though the jury elected to judge it under the rules specified for a "Display" class exhibit. Under the US categories, a Display exhibit is allowed much more latitude for the inclusion of non-philatelic support material while still requiring that an important level of philatelic items be present.

 To quote one of the judges: "The treatment was as it should be with coverage and development suitable for the subject. As much philatelic material that exists were included though not in a highly redundant way. The subject and philatelic knowledge was adequately developed and the rarity and condition was of a high degree."

 The Display class was specifically set up to encourage collectors to experiment with material and layouts that are not allowed under other categories of (US) exhibiting. Tony's presentation was a 'classic' example of what the category was designed to encourage. As one of the judges said to me at the show, at the frames, "The author defined his subject and delivered on what he promised."

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