19th October 2021 - Society Zoom Meeting - Post-WW2 Forces Postal History

Peter Harvey writes: the Society’s October zoom meeting once again had a good attendance with 18 members from the UK, North America and the European Union enjoying seven short displays, with lots of debate and discussion related to forces postal history. Although we had a theme of for this meeting, displays also included Egypt WW1 and Italian Submarines from both WW1 & WW2.

Our first display was from Colin Tabeart, once again giving an outstanding insight into the world of sub-mariners and submarine postal history, with a display of Italian WW1 & WW2 submarine covers and cards. His display started with the submarine Fisalia and then further covers from the 1st Submarine Sqn based in Venice. Colin then explained the background to the transfer of four W-Class submarines from the British to the Italians, with postmarks and censor cachets to illustrate this. We then moved onto WW2 and submarines operated from bases at Messina, Cagliari, Taranto and La Spezia including the Dessie, Luigi Settembrini and the Michele Bianchi. Colin went on to remind the audience of the number one law of submarine services ‘number of surfaces must equal number of dives, or else’.

On the theme of post WW2, Peter High gave a display of hospital ship covers from the 1945-49 Chinese Civil War, the 1946-54 French Indo-China War and the Biafran War 1967-70. Several of the covers shown were illustrated with postcards of the subject ships, including the Ile De France in the hybrid role of troop carrier outbound, and hospital ship inbound on return to France. The last item shown was from the USS Repose (AH-16), including discussion on the role of the ship in evacuating both civilians and British casualties from action in communist China.  

As a regular attendee of zoom meetings Chris Grimshaw gave a display of WW1 material to illustrate his research into the formation of the British 228th Brigade and FPO 228, used in Greece and then Bulgaria following the Brigade’s formation in 1917. These included examples of the single-ring FPO 228 with type 3 (triangle) and type 7 (hexagonal) censor cachets and the double-ring datestamp introduced into use in 1918. 

Jim Mackay brought the meeting back to the Post-WW2 theme with a range of related postal history from 1945 through to 1959. He started with a cover to the RAF in India, returned as ‘repatriated’ with RAFPOST 2 South East Asia redirection, followed by prisoner of war items including Salthouse Battery Camp Peterhead, a War Crimes Censor cachet on a U.S. POW card from Dachau and then a cover to Rudolf Hess with the cachet Allied Prison Spandau. Jim also showed a RAFPOST Japan cover, a range of campaign medal cards and a 1955 cover to Canton Island in the South Pacific and Operation Cooks Tour.

The Korean War was the theme of the short display from Nick Colley, including covers from 2 Sqn South African Air Force, HMCS Athabaskan and Iroquois and a cover from a Danish Volunteer in the Canadian army whilst at hospital in Kure japan cancelled AUST UNIT POSTAL STN 453 with transit through British FPO 946. Nick then showed further items including redirection labels and cachets, whilst explaining his interests in Hubba-Hubba mail illustrated with a range of cachets and covers. 

Michael Dobbs made an appeal for assistance from members to help his research into recruitment cachets used by the British Army and the Royal Air Force which started to be seen in 1958 – 59. He then showed 8 covers and cards illustrated this including BFPO Christmas Island with the circular Good Pay and Prospects in Your Army cachet and covers from FPO 975 (RAF Jever) FPO 619 (RAF Sylt) and FPO 752 (BFPO 38 Verden) with the boxed version of the cachet. Further cachets The Regular Army Travel Adventure and a Trade, and the cachet Royal Air Force Apprentice Scheme Provides a Fine Training were also shown. Members were encouraged to contact Mike directly with their own examples. 

Finally Ian Muchall gave a display with the title “The RAF in Madagascar and the Beira Patrol”. He started by giving background to the United Nations economic sanctions on Rhodesia, the role of the RAF and his own service at RAF Majunga along with the RAF Shackleton aircraft detachments from Malta (38 Sqn) and Aden (37 Sqn from Khormaksar). He explained and illustrated the sensitivity around the use of Madagascar as an RAF base and arrangement for mail to be sent with the address RAF Detachment, PO Box 212, Majunga, Malagasy, rather than a formal military address.  Covers illustrated included incorrectly addressed and redirected items, the use of the cachet Royal Air Force Majunga Detachment and items routed through FPO 218 (Aden) and FPO 170 (Bahrain). 

You can view the material displayed on our website by opening and or downloading the following:


A Post WW2 Military Postal History display from Jim Mackay. A wide variety of postal history including repatriated, prisoner of war and displaced persons covers, items from the Nuremburg tribunal and Spandau camp, then campaign medal cards and covers from Japan, Canton Island and the RAF in New Zealand. 

DateFriday, 05 November 2021 13:36
File Size 3.78 MB
Download 123

Another display from Peter High and his extensive hospital ship collection. Shows French hospital ships in the 1946 – 54 Indochina War and then further hospital ship material from the Nigerian-Biafra War 1967 – 1970 and finally a cover from the casualty transport ship USS Repose used during the Chinese Civil War 1946. 

DateFriday, 05 November 2021 13:36
File Size 1.32 MB
Download 99

Further material from the extensive research being carried out by Chris Grimshaw. 6 Sheets explaining the formation of the 228th Brigade and then its Field Post Office datestamp use 1917 to 1919. 

DateFriday, 05 November 2021 13:36
File Size 1.08 MB
Download 103

A fascinating display from Colin Tabeart showing scarce and rare covers and cards from Italian Navy submarines and submarine bases during WW1 & WW2.

DateFriday, 05 November 2021 13:36
File Size 6.53 MB
Download 97

(1 vote)

A short display from Nick Colley showing postal history from the Korean war including the South African Air Force, Canadian and Australian Forces, Hubba Hubba mail, the Royal Navy and British Field Post Office datestamps. 

DateFriday, 05 November 2021 13:36
File Size 14.2 MB
Download 101

A short display from Ian Muchall including items related to his own service in the RAF whilst in Madagascar. Includes some background to the Beira Patrol, the role of the RAF and the arrangements for the movement of mail through the civilian Post Office and Official mail via Aden and Bahrain.   

DateFriday, 05 November 2021 13:36
File Size 1.37 MB
Download 113

A display by Michael Dobbs explaining the use of recruitment cachets by the British Army and the Royal Air Force during the recruitment campaign launched in late 1958 to early 1959. 

DateFriday, 05 November 2021 13:36
File Size 3.82 MB
Download 102