Monday, March 14, 2011

Post-War Austerity
Paper Shortage and Economy Labels

(Post 56)

War-time paper shortages continued into the immediate post-war period. Measures to reduce paper consumption such as the re-use of envelopes continued into the early 1950s. Gummed labels called "Economy Labels" allowed for the re-use of envelopes. This post shows economy label usages during the post-war austerity period.

1. On His Majesty's Service

Original Mailing
W. Dawson & Sons, Ltd., to the Imperial War Museum, London, October 5, 1951
W D / & S perfin on the 2 1/2d. stamp

Imperial War Museum to London address, Kennington, October 9, 1951
War Museum handstamp

2. Supplied By Tapp & Toothill Company

Original Mailing
Leeds to Bradford, May 6, 1948

Bradford to Galt, Ontario, May 24, 1948

3. War Economy Label

Manchester to Pittsburgh, October 31, 1945

4. "Carol" Envelope Economy Label

Original Mailing
Cheswick to Birmingham, December 4, 1945

Birmingham local correspondence, December 7, 1945
1d. printed matter rate

5. The "Justo" Envelope Economy Label

Original Mailing
Droitwich to London, April 23, 1948

West Brompton to Newburyport, Mass., June 17, 1948

6. I. & R. Morley Limited

London to Famborough, November 20, 1947

7. Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd.

Original Mailing
Liverpool to London, June 21, 1946

London to Montreal, July 5, 1946

8. Brunswick Envelope Economy Label

Original Mailing
London to Minehead, May 25, 1947

Minehead to London, November 26, 1947


Dover to Toronto, November 25, 1947

10. Cox & Sharland Ltd.

Original Mailing
Deptford to Southampton, April 14, 1949

Southampton to New Britain, Conn., May 20, 1949

11. National Portrait Gallery

Original Mailing
St. John's Wood to London, June 23, 1950

London to New York, July 24, 1950

12.   Label Without Printing

Original Mailing
House of Commons to Woking, June 1950

Woking to New York, May 18, 1951

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Box 1000, Mauritius 
Mauritius Detainee Camp

(Post 55)

In September 1940, over 3000 central European Jewish refugees boarded three cargo ships from the Romanian port of Tulcea, seeking refuge in the British mandate Palestine. The British authorities denied entry to the refugees because they did not have entry permits, and ordered their deportation to Britain's Indian Ocean colony of Mauritius.

Some of the detainees were allowed to remain in Palestine after the ship to which they had been transferred, the Patria, sank in Haifa harbour with the loss of over 200 lives. However, approximately 1600 refugees were deported to Mauritius on December 9, 1940. The refugees were housed in a detainee camp at Beau Bassin, Mauritius, for the remainder of the war. Most of the surviving refugees chose to settle in Palestine after the war.

Undercover Address

Mail for detainees was to the undercover address Box 1000, Mauritius.

St. John's Wood to Miss Sara Klatzko, Det. No. 493 c/o Postbox 1000, Mauritius, May 7, 1942
Mauritus receiver July 17, 1942

Mauritius Triangular Censor handstamp

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No. 11 Special German P.O.W. Camp
Island Farm Camp, Bridgend

(Post 54)

After the war, high-profile German officers were transferred to No. 11 Special German P.O.W. Camp at Island Farm Camp in Bridgend South Wales. Prisoners were detained at the camp while their war-time activities were being investigated or while awaiting trial. Some were to be witnesses at trials or were awaiting extradition.
There were 160 officers holding the rank of general, admiral, or field marshal, including a number of Hitler's closest advisers:
  • Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, commander in chief of the German armies in the campaign against France in 1940 (because of his status, von Rundstedt received certain privileges at the camp, including his own private suite, consisting of a sitting room and bedroom)
  • Field Marshal Erich von Manstein who established the operation plans for Hitler’s successful campaign in the west and commanded the Eleventh Army, which conquered the Crimea and Sevastopol on the eastern front
  • Field Marshal Waleter von Brauchitsh who was named commander in chief of the German army by Hitler in 1938 and who was instrumental in the planning and execution of attacks on Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia, Greece, and the Soviet Union
Island Farm Camp closed in 1948, when the last prisoners were returned to Germany.

[Link: Island Farm Prisoner of War Camp provides a detailed history of the Island Farm Camp.]

The W.H. Smith & Son London wrappers below were addressed to the Commandant of No. 11 Special German P.O.W. Camp:

Undated to "11 Special German P.O.W. Camp"

4 1/2d wrapper, London April 6, 1948

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Arctic Convoys to the USSR
1941 - 45

(Post 53)

The Arctic convoys of World War II travelled from Britain and the United States to the northern ports of the Soviet Union, Arkhangelsk (Archangel) and Murmansk from 1941 to 1945, providing vital supplies to the USSR.

In his November 13, 2005 article, "Arctic convoy veterans honoured 60 years after heroism in icy seas", Jonathan Thompson of The Independent wrote:

"The Arctic convoys, described by Winston Churchill as the most dangerous of the entire war, transported four million tons of crucial supplies and munitions to Russia between 1941 and 1945, supporting the Red Army in the conflict. As Germany occupied Norway, the British ships had to take a treacherous northerly route, often skirting the Arctic ice floes, before dropping south into Russian ports including Murmansk and Archangel. In bitter cold, the merchant seamen and their Royal Navy escorts endured repeated attacks from both U-boats and Luftwaffe bombers, often sustaining heavy losses. Just under 3,000 British seamen were killed during the convoys, the majority never recovered from the icy waters. More than 100 British ships were sunk during the campaign."

Convoy approaching Murmansk

The cover below was mailed to a seaman on board the SS Empire Scott, c/o GPO London, on October 1, 1943. The letter was forwarded to Murmansk and received November 2, 1943. The letter was censored by British and Soviet authorities.

Romford to SS Empire Scott, October 1, 1943

Forwarded to Murmansk, November 2, 1943 receiver.

Murmansk receiver
November 2, 1943

British Censor Tape

Soviet Censor Tape

Soviet Censor handstamp

SS Empire Scott sailed on convoy JW.53 from Loch Ewe to Murmansk on February 15, 1943, arriving on February 27, 1943. Records show that the Empire Scott sailed on convoy RA.54B from Archangel on November 26, 1943, arriving at Loch Ewe on December 9, 1943. Was the SS Empire Scott in the Soviet port from February 1943 to November 1943?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Royal Research Ship Discovery II

(Post 52)

The Royal Research Ship Discovery II was built to carry out scientific work for the "Discovery Investigations" from the 1930s to 1951. The Discovery Investigations were a series of scientific cruises and shore-based investigations into the biology of whales in the Southern Ocean. Funded by the British Colonial Office and organised by the Discovery Committee in London, the Investigations contributed hugely to our knowledge of the whales, the krill they fed on, and the oceanography of their habitat.

(not in author's collection)

Launched in 1929, RRS Discovery II made five Antarctic research cruises, or 'Commissions', during the 1930s before its activities were suspended at the outbreak of war. After the war she made her final Antarctic cruise in 1951, before she went on to continue with similar work in the North Atlantic. In the course of her long service, the Discovery II circumnavigated the Antarctic continent and made countless, valuable observations which have deepened our understanding of Antarctic oceanography.

(not in author's collection)

5th Commission (1937-39)

In October 1937, RRS Discovery II sailed from London on its fifth commission which was completed in May 1939.

The cover below was mailed from the RMS Discovery II in late 1938 .

RMS Discovery on her 5th commission, addressed to London, 1938
London "RECEIVED FROM H.M. SHIPS' cancellation, December 17, 1938

Addressee docketing

Mail from the RRS Discovery II was transferred to a London-bound vessel where it entered the mail stream.