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14th October 2023 - President’s Cup Competition

Sadly we only had four entries for the President’s Cup Competition this year, but nevertheless they provided a wide range of topics and were well presented and written up. The winner was Tiegan Berry with her display of “Ruhleben Christmas Cards”. Ruhleben was the camp outside Berlin where civilians of British extraction were imprisoned during WW1. Only men were imprisoned and each year Christmas cards were designed to be sent from the civilian POWs. They were postcards often with a picture of the Camp or other timed related theme. Below is a picture of Tiegan being presented with the President’s Cup by our President, Robin Davis FRPSL.


Photo of presentation















Two Christmas cards for 1916 and 1917 published by the Ruhleben Camp magazine; only the name of the sender was allowed on the card



The other three entries were as follows (in alphabetical order): Andrew Brooks with an entry on “Austro-Hungarian Base Post Offices in Occupied Poland in WW1”. When Russian Poland was occupied in WW1 it was governed as two separate areas. The southern area governed by Austro-Hungary and the northern by Germany. Most of the countries occupied by Austro-Hungary opened Base Post Offices e.g., Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Italy and Poland but for various reasons Poland was the only one where the imposed postal system was used extensively by civilians, occupying armies and the administrative organisations needed to govern. Cancellations and stamps were similar to that used for some time in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The K.u.K Militar Post stamps were overprinted where necessary and later issues from July 1915 omitted the Bosnia-Herzegovina title. The display included a few examples of the 100 Base Post Office issued in Poland.






















Two pages taken from Andrew Brooks’ entry on Austro-Hungarian Base Post Offices in Occupied Poland during WW1


Peter High with an entry was on the “Italian Hospital Ships of the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-1912”. Italy had long desired a colony in North Africa. Following the crisis in Morocco in 1911, Italy took advantage of international uncertainty and devised an excuse to challenge Turkey, using as a pretext an infringement of Italian interests in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. An Italian ultimatum to Turkey on 28 September 1911 was followed the next day with an Italian declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire. What followed would be the first use in war of aircraft for bombing and reconnaissance, and the first use of armoured vehicles operating in concert with land forces. Italian forces quickly occupied the towns of Tripoli, Derna and Benghazi. In May 1912 Italian naval forces occupied Rhodes and some of the Dodecanese Islands. The war was concluded on 18 October 1912 with the signing of the peace Treaty of Ouchy, (near Lausanne, Switzerland). By this time the Turks had ceded Tripoli, Cyrenaica and Rhodes, with Italy agreeing to evacuate the Dodecanese Islands (although Italian forces continued their occupation). Italy used five hospital ships during the war; covers from each of them are shown in this entry.


Lorraine Maguire with an entry on “New Zealand Prisoner of War Air Letter Cards 1941-1945”. The German and the Italian authorities as well as the Allies, enforced strict rules governing mail exchanges for Prisoners of War, agreed to internationally under the Geneva Convention. Letters from New Zealand to New Zealanders held in POW camps in Italy and Germany were reciprocally delivered. Letters in each direction had to be censored, by opening, examining and resealing, thus slowing down the system. The air letter cards were introduced in November 1941. During 1943-1944, some 30,000 cards a month were used. Approximately one air letter card a week for each N.Z. POW. Its usage post war spread rapidly to the civilian post and in 1953 they were renamed Aerogrammes.


Following the Competition we had members’ displays and our President, Robin Davis, started off with a display of material from the WWII internment camp in the Troodos mountains in Cyprus. He also showed labels for the first jet flights across the Atlantic in 1948. Geoff Hanney was next explaining that he was working through postmarks of UK military camps and showed a selection of mail and postcards from various Crowborough camps - the display was shown “as acquired” written up by a previous collector.


Peter High couldn’t attend the meeting due to other commitments and so Nick Colley put up the display on his behalf - it was about Italian Hospital Ships and largely related to Derna. Peter has provided a report on his display as follows:


Italy had long desired a colony in North Africa. Following the crisis in Morocco in 1911, Italy took advantage of international uncertainty and devised an excuse to challenge Turkey, using as a pretext an infringement of Italian interests in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. An Italian ultimatum to Turkey on 28 September 1911 was followed the next day with an Italian declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire. What followed would be the first use in war of aircraft for bombing and reconnaissance, and the first use of armoured vehicles operating in concert with land forces. Italian forces quickly occupied the towns of Tripoli, Derna and Benghazi. In May 1912 Italian naval forces occupied Rhodes and some of the Dodecanese Islands. The war was concluded on 18 October 1912 with the signing of the peace Treaty of Ouchy, (near Lausanne, Switzerland). By this time the Turks had ceded Tripoli, Cyrenaica and Rhodes, with Italy agreeing to evacuate the Dodecanese Islands (although Italian forces continued their occupation).


This display concentrates on the port area of DERNA, a town in on the coast of Libya between Bengasi and Tobruk. Note the telegram, written by a wounded soldier (undoubtedly an officer) on a scrap of paper, which was then taken from Derna to the Telegraph Office in Bengasi and affixed to the telegram form. It is addressed to his family to advise them that he is injured (although not severely) and he awaits a hospital ship to take him to mainland Italy. His family home was a large mansion, some photos of which are shown, taken from the Internet. Clearly his family are wealthy. Derna was one of Italy’s main bases during the 1911-1912 period. Derna has recently been featured in the news when heavy rains caused devastation from extensive flooding and two burst dams.


Lorraine Maguire showed a cover which she had bought for just £1.50 many years ago because of the N.Z. stamps on it and that it had been sent to N.Z. House in the Strand where the New Zealand High Commission was based when she came to London in 1961. She recently decided to look up the two Airmen mentioned on the cover. What a surprise F/O Kenneth William Tait was: he came from Wellington, her home town and had a very illustrious career, after joining the RAF and being awarded many honours including the DFC. Her display included many sheets about his history and several photos. As she said, that one cover opened up "Pandora's Box" for her.

Photo of flying crew
A photo of Flying Officer R. Watson, Sgt. Leading Aircraftsman Thorogood, Pilot Officer R.F.F. Malengrau, Flight :Lieutenant I.R. Gleed, Flying Officer K.W. TAIT and Flying Officer R.M.S. Raynor
Airmail cover
Airmail cover sent from Wellington N.Z. to Pilot Officer J.R. Cock, c/- Flight Officer K.W. Tait, c/- N.Z. house, London; Opened and Passed by Censor No 32 in New Zealand

Peter Burrows showed what he termed “a bit of a mixture” with a few of his recent mountings of American material including a Camp Lee picture postcard. He also showed a WW2 cover from the Portuguese Red Cross in Lisbon about a donation.

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