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4th November 2023 - Members’ displays

We held our re-arranged November meeting on the first Saturday rather than our usual second Saturday as we didn’t want to clash with the expected high attendance for the Remembrance weekend.  Prior to our meetings a small number of us meet in the reception area of the UJC before to going over the road to the Auberge for lunch.  However, on this day we noticed a large number of people in naval uniforms who appeared to be gathering for a special reason and I made an enquiry as to what it was and was informed that they were submariners and were there for a Remembrance ceremony.  It was only on 11th November that I read an article in a newspaper which explained why submariners held their own Remembrance service a week before the national Remembrance Day.  It stated that submariners were banned from the first Armistice Day parade in Whitehall by a bossy admiral on the grounds that they were pirates who targeted civilians.  In response they adopted skull-and-crossbones badges and arranged their own celebrations on the Embankment in London and in Blyth and Dundee, a week before the official ones.  The tradition survives more than a century later.


We had our best turn out in several months with 13 members present of whom 8 showed a varied range of material which covered both world wars and the post-war era.  As usual Peter High provided us with a rich variety of biscuits, particularly if you like chocolate, and Lorraine Maguire who was celebrating her birthday the following week provided us with some chocolate sweets including Guinness Chocolate Truffles!  However, that’s enough for the sweet tooth, now back to the displays!


But before the displays we had two presentations to make: on 3rd February 2018 Alan Baker won the John Daynes Plate (15-sheet competition) but due to covid we were unable to present him with a signed certificate and it was forgotten about after the covid restrictions were relaxed, until recently so we took advantage of this meeting for our then President, Richard Berry, to present him with it.  Then it was the turn of our current President, Robin Davis, to present Tiegan Berry with her certificate after winning the President’s Cup Competition (9-sheet) the previous month.


Photo of Presentation
Immediate Past President, Richard Berry, presenting Alan Baker (left) with his 2018 John Daynes Plate certificate
Photo of Presentation
President, Robin Davis, to present Tiegan Berry with her certificate for winning the President’s Cup Competition at our October meeting.

After a congenial lunch at the French ‘Auberge’ restaurant across the road from the UJC, Peter High began the afternoon’s display by offering just one item. This was a picture postcard of the port of La Spezia, Italy, written in 1946. With it he had a story.  He explained that, following the cessation of hostilities in Europe and Asia, one of the many problems that remained was the establishment of a permanent homeland for the Jewish people. At that time Great Britain ruled Palestine under what was known as the British Mandate. Many thousands of displaced Jews from Europe wanted to settle in Palestine but were prevented from doing so by force of arms. In the spring of 1946, 1,014 Jewish displaced persons were transported by the Zionist underground to the abandoned port of La Spezia to sail to Palestine aboard the immigrant ship ‘Fede’.  One day before its scheduled departure British authorities learned of the illegal transport and took steps to block its departure. Following worldwide attention to the crisis, and a hunger strike, just over a month later, the British relented and the ‘Fede’, renamed ‘Dov Hos’ sailed for Haifa.  The picture postcard was written and posted on board ‘Fede’, 7 May 1946, the day before sailing. On the card was a large cachet reading “REPATRIATION SHIP ‘FEDE’ … ‘DOV HOS’” The incident became known as ‘The La Spezia Affair’.  He also showed a range of photographs showing Jewish displaced persons who lived at the port whilst waiting to board vessels for Palestine.


Simon McArthur gave a display on the Deutsche Dienspost Niederlande (DPP) which was established in occupied Holland after the German invasion in May 1940. For reasons of security it was necessary to have a postal service independent of the Dutch postal system. The service carried mail between military units, workers in German Reich administrative offices and Nazi party organisations. This included mail going to Germany and other countries. Additionally the service carried Feldpost mail. A number of DDP offices of varying size were set up throughout the country to receive mail. Recipients had to collect the mail from the nearest office. Mute cancels were used with code letters to designate the receiving DDP office.

Deutsche Dienspost Niederlande (DPP)

Deutsche Dienspost Niederlande (DPP)


German civilians and companies based in Holland using the service had to pay postage at German domestic postal rates using German stamps. All administrative and commercial mail had to display a diagonal blue cross and the notation of the DPP. Mail to Dutch civil servants from German offices in Holland was sent under a system known as Domestic Dienspost and was sent through the Dutch postal system receiving regular domestic cancels. They were either free of charge or franked with German stamps, depending on the nature of the letter. DDP mail was carried on the Dutch road network or on the railways with German trains utilised where necessary.


The display by our President, Robin Davis, covered the UNFICYP: Civilian Police Contingent.  With the first outbreak of unrest in Cyprus in 1964 the UN established a military peace keeping force but what most people are unaware of is that this peace keeping force included contingents of civilian police (CIVPOL) from five countries: Australia (40 officers); Austria (34 officers); Denmark (41 officers); New Zealand (29 Officers) and Sweden (40 officers).  The duties of these police officers included investigating the murders, missing persons, etc arising from the unrest.


The NZ contingent left Cyprus in 1967. Then gradually the total number of officers was reduced until in 1978 only 34 officers remained. Later on a contingent of 15 Irish police officers served with the Australian officers but we have no information about them, not even the date when they arrived in Cyprus.


The postal arrangements of the various police contingents varied. Because detachments of officers were often just two or three men posted to very isolated villages, it was often quicker and more convenient for them to use the normal civilian Cyprus rural postal service than to wait for it to go back to their own base for posting. Mail can be found for all contingents with British stamps cancelled by various British FPO’s, Swedish covers with Swedish stamps cancelled by Swedish FPO’s, Danish covers with Danish stamps cancelled on arrival in Copenhagen and Austrian covers posted through the Danish FPO’s.  His display showed covers from the Australian, Austrian, Danish and New Zealand police contingents. He could not show any Swedish covers as to date he does not have any and similarly have not seen or heard anything about Irish contingent mail. 


Nick Colley showed several items of mail from German airship units in WW1, with a geographical range from Latvia and Bulgaria in the east, to Flanders in the west. All had clear unit cachets, and most had Feldpost postmarks, although three items from units on home soil had civilian postmarks: Hannover, Liegnitz (now Legnica in Poland), and Dresden.


Richard Berry showed various Rhodesia items including (1) a 1918 discharge certificate from the Northern Rhodesia Regiment, (2) a well-travelled 1920 cover that never found Corporal Jones (7th Dragoon Guards) – it was sent from Salisbury UK to the War Office in London and then to Cavalry Records in Canterbury. Then a long trip to Mosul in Iraq before being forwarded to Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia before ending up where it started in Salisbury UK and (3) some covers from the Rhodesian Bush war going to the Defence Exemption Board. Richard also showed various maps and other items of Bush War ephemera to show the range of items that can be used to provide more context to his Rhodesian military postal history.


Alan Baker showed a short display of items from the Canadian garrison forces in Jamaica in WWII.  After Dunkirk Britain wanted its troops back in the UK and so persuaded Canada to provide troops to replace the British soldiers. The display included covers with the unit stamp of the Winnipeg Grenadiers (MG), moving onto the “Y” Force censorship stamps and the later Canadian Army circle under crown No 316 stamp.  Finally, he showed a cover from the 2nd Glosters who took over as the garrison force in 1947, before being withdrawn and sent to Korea to partake in the Korean War.


With Christmas approaching, Lorraine Maguire decided to show 45 sheets of assorted Military Xmas Cards, Postcards with Seasonal Greetings, Silk Postcards and Xmas Airgraph letters.  They ranged from WW1 through WW2, Falklands War and Gulf War, something for everyone.  Many of them were from her own family, sent to her and her brother from family members, one cousin being in the NZ Army Postal Service throughout WW2.


Lorraine Maguire’s display: the first two are WW1 silk postcards with another postcard sent from New Zealand by her father’s sister (Sylvia) to her father George Fairbairn on 15th November 1916.  This was followed by two WW2 Forces Christmas cards - one from the NZ Postal Corps with 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in 1944 and the other a Middle East Force Christmas card for 1945 sent on 6/12/45.

Geoff Hanney showed a couple of frames all of US Marine Corps in World War 2 in the Pacific. It was a mixture of personal and official mail. As both the censors and postmarks were dumb (i.e. no indication of who used them or location) the only way to confirm that they were from the marines rather than US Navy units was the return address.


Peter Burrows started by apologizing that his display was not Forces but did relate to World War 1. This was the first part of his collection of War Bonds, Loan and Certificates material printed to help raise money to pay for the war. Bonds were sold for 15s 6d, and after five years would be worth £1. At the end of 1917 they used the new invention of the TANK to encourage people to buy more war bonds. Six tanks toured the country from which they sold bonds. Each town competed to raise the most money and after the war the top 264 towns or boroughs were presented with tanks. Most were scrapped before the start of WW2 apart for the one at Ashford. The Post Office produced the first slogan postmark to promote the sale of bonds, but this is part of a future display, which includes material for the “Feed the Guns” and “Victory Loan” campaigns.



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