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8th December 2023

New Acquisitions and Queries and a chat over Coffee, Biscuits and Mince Pies

This was an all-day meeting at Banstead, where we hold our annual War & Philately stamp fair.  We had a reasonable turnout, 13 members and a guest, and it was very pleasing to see some members who we had not seen for some time.  As the Community Hall at Banstead has a large free car park, this made the venue more accessible than travelling by train into London.  We also had some apologies from other members who due to various commitments or their current situation prevented them from attending.  It was meant to be “new acquisitions” but by and large it turned out to be members displays with a few new acquisitions thrown in - and a what a variety we had, enough to hold three rounds of displays and so a huge thank you to all those who brought material to show.


Julian Bagwell was first to display with a presentation of Red Cross messages to and from Guernsey under German occupation in WW2.  It included messages from the UK and responses as well as messages which originated from civilians on the Island and “Bradshaw” post cards in various colours as well as the envelopes used to post these cards to recipients.  What are such cards?  When Red Cross message forms arrived in Guernsey from Geneva they were handled by the Red Cross Bureau on the Island who sent a specially printed postcard to the addressee notifying them that a communication had been received and that they should make contact with the Bureau to collect such messages.  These postcards are known as “Bradshaw” advice cards and took their name from George A Bradshaw, the first supervisor of the Bureau, whose name appears at the foot of the card.


Geoff Hanney had a one frame display on Irish naval ships in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly employed as fisheries protection vessels.  All were philatelic, addressed to a now deceased member, with civilian postmarks but with the ships datestamps applied.


He was followed by Frank Schofield who shot to the front on his mobility scooter to talk about his display of British FPOs in Italy during WW1.  The first four were coloured postcards including one which featured a scene in Mexico (he just wondered how that got to Italy in the first place!).  The others were postcards or covers from individuals who he had researched about their service and where they died and were buried.  It included one where his researches corrected the record of the date of death of the sender as held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and they duly amended their records.  They were postmarked from various FPOs in Italy at that time.


Michael Dobbs showed a number of recent acquisitions, including two covers addressed to a “Monsieur DOBBS” (relationship not known) in Dublin and the Gold Coast postmarked by French FPOs in 1951 and 1952 respectively.  He then went on to show his recent research project of Army and RAF recruitment cachets used on Forces mail mainly in November and December 1958.  He hopes to formulate this into an article for our Journal soon.  Another topic he is researching is the use of numerical rubber cachets on registered mail - he started off showing numerals which were the BAOR address numbers (and APO designations) in BAOR during the 1950s together with a small collection of BP numbers (thought to represent “British Post”) in the range BP50 to BP60 in the 1960s onwards, again only in BAOR. 


We then moved on to our second showing and it was a pleasure to see Peter O’Keeffe again, absent for a very long period due to mobility issues, who started of proceedings with a selection of WW1 FPOs under a variety of headings: RFC, RAF, POW mail (to and from POWs), Occupation of Germany and Hospitalised in Cairo to name a few.  There was also a selection of postcards headlined with themes based on the messages written by the sender including “Wars Over”, “Hoping, but do not know”, “What happens next?” and “Homeward bound” amongst others.


Richard Berry was next with a display of ephemera dating from the 1960s and 1970s on the Rhodesia air force, largely newspaper cuttings, British South Africa Police, military identity cards for an individual, material in support of independence and following UDI, including an item from the Anglo-Rhodesian Society citing Rhodesia’s case for independence and a letter and cover from the British Military Advisory & Training Team (BMATT) advising both its civil and BFPO 632 postal addresses.


He was followed by Robert Prentice who showed six letters which covered three conflicts: the Peninsular War 1808-13, including one written by the Duke of Wellington explaining his actions; two letters written by soldiers involved in the 1854-56 Crimea War; a First World War letter written in French by the Prince of Wales and a letter dated 26 February 1809 written by Admiral Lord Gambier in charge of the Channel Fleet.


For our third showing we started with Robert Hurst who filled two frames with Falkland Island Dependencies material.  Some of this related Operation Tabarin which was the code name for a secret British expedition to the Antarctic during WW2. Conducted by the Admiralty its primary objective was to strengthen British claims to sovereignty of the British territory of the Falkland Islands Dependencies.  As part of this covers from Naval Party 475, established in 1943, were shown.  The showing also included stamps overprinted “Dependency of” where the island location formed part of the printed stamp just below the overprint.  He also showed covers and postcards flow by the RAF to and from Iraq as part of the Iraq-UK RAF mail service 1921-26.


Michael Dobbs showed two frames of British FPOs used at Territorial Army (TA) Training Camps in the UK during the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Then it was Richard Berry with another showing of Rhodesia, mainly military-related newspaper cuttings of the 1970s; forms connected with registration under the National Registration Act around 1971 and articles connected to Operation Dingo, a Rhodesian SAS operation against Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) locations in Mozambique during November 1977.  He was followed once more by Michael Dobbs who showed his researches on the post-WW2 undated ARMY POST OFFICE cancellations and how he had type-listed them.


Our final display was by Geoff Hanney who showed Camp postmarks connected to his research as an update to Reg Kingston’s book on the subject [“Camp Postmarks of the UK” by R A Kingston, published by the FPHS in March 1971].  He showed a selection of picture postcards and some covers with Camp postmarks dated from the early 1900s through to WW1.


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