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Saturday 10 September 2022

UJC 1.30pm - Africa at War - Members’ displays


Yet another very enjoyable meeting at the Union Jack Club held in a relaxed informal atmosphere with 11 members present. Our subject for the afternoon was “Africa at War”. First to show was our Secretary, Michael Dobbs whose display included material from the British Forces who went to Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe) as part of the Commonwealth Cease-Fire Monitoring Group and later the British Military Advisory & Training Team 1979-89 period (BFPO 632); the BMATT in Uganda in 1986 (BFPO 600); the British contingent of the UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia in 1989 (BFPO 644) and also the publication “UNTAG - A Postal History” by Peter Reiner and published in 1990.


Then it was the turn of Peter Burrows who collects postal stationery and showed material from the Boer War, First and Second World Wars - but not necessarily in that order! He started off with a selection of WW2 “I am Well” cards produced by local printers in the region in different languages and printings; followed by stationery from WW1 German POWs taken in German East Africa to South African POW camps, including specially printed Christmas greetings cards from Fort Napier; South African POW cards for Italian POWs (in Italian) and acknowledgement cards in English; mail from Belgian troops in the Congo which went out through Sudan. Also shown was Boer War material: Raphael Tuck postcards, registered mail and OHMS mail; a number of camps for Boer prisoners were set up in South Africa, St Helena, India and Ceylon and he showed items from these camps. Lastly he showed covers from the Polish contingent in Egypt and Syria in 1975-76 as part of the UN Emergency Force.


David Milsted was next on the subject of the Boer War. He started off with a selection of military telegraph stamps and a telegram of the Sudan Military Telegraphs of 1898; this was followed by a selection of covers and postcards with British stamps from British troops in South Africa and postmarked with British Army cancellations. Included was a large cover to General Sir William Birdwood in New Zealand sent in 1920. He also showed two examples of the “Black & White Budget” magazine; in 1900 Queen Victoria sent tins of chocolates to soldiers involved in the Boer War and he showed one of those tins, sadly without the original chocolate inside (!) along with a reproduction of the front page of “The Graphic” weekly newspaper of soldiers enjoying the chocolate from the tins.

Continuing the Boer War theme was Tony Stanford who material was mainly from the late Kenneth Griffiths collection; this included mail, parcel post labels, packets from the forces back to Great Britain, registered mail including a registered parcel wrapper front, covers and book post. This was all displayed showing who used it, where and when. The display included British stamps postmarked with British Army postmarks, an OHMS card from the Army Post Office in Pretoria and a shirt cloth used for a packet.


Our Immediate Past President and Librarian, Richard Berry, was last to show with UN Forces airmail in the Congo showing a letter sent by the late Alistair Kennedy to an officer from the Ghanaian Contingent enclosing Commonwealth Reply Coupons and asking for covers to be sent back; this told the story of how collectors collected covers with postmarks. He also showed a selection of Northern Rhodesia mail in the 1950s as well as WW1 Kings African Rifles (KAR) material and a programme in aid of KAR hospitals. Also shown was material from the Royal West African Frontier Force in Nigeria in the 1950s, some Mau Mau related material and a varied selection of mail from the 4th (Volunteer) Battalion, KAR in 1953/54.

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