08 July 2020
Established in 1952, the Forces Postal History Society aims to bring together the many collectors interested in the postal history of the Armed Forces of all countries, (and United Nations).
All periods from the 16th Century to the present day are included, whether in war or peacetime, together with the study of postmarks, cachets, postage rates, prisoner-of-war mail, stamps and stationery, censorship and the organisation of military postal services.
Support amongst members is naturally strongest for the armed forces of the Crown, with devotees concentrating on Royal Navy, the RAF, First and Second World Wars, military camps etc. Others collect and study on a one country basis.
The way members decide on where their interest lies can vary considerably. Some begin by collecting the stamps of a particular country or area and then decide to branch out into postal history. From there, it is a small step into military covers. One member collects a particular country because a near relative served there in the Great War.
The Society encourages members to share their interests with others through a number of means…
The Society publishes a quarterly journal which is available to members either in paper form or online. This contains a wide variety of articles submitted by members on areas of their interest and short items on, perhaps, a single cover.
A section for members queries is included and responses are published in later editions.
During the current crisis, we have published a bumper 60-page edition this quarter and have decided to make this available for non-members to view on our website, free of charge. It is hoped that we might repeat this arrangement for the next quarter’s issue.
This is accessed through the website and is for members to post queries about particular covers, inviting others to comment or provide more information. It is viewed by many members across the world, often on a daily basis. At least one person admits that he checks it out several times each day.
Since April, we have enhanced the range of the forum, by starting an initiative to post a “Cover of the Day”. Since it started in March 2020, over 1,100 items have been posted and commented on by other members. The range of material posted is as wide as aims of the Society intended. Several members now find themselves in the position of “resident expert” in certain fields, while others vie with each other to be the first to respond to queries.
We have approximately forty displays readily accessible for viewing on our public website. To show examples of the wide spectrum of what our members collect three of the displays are displayed as part of the Summer of Stamps festival…
Sadly, we cannot meet at all during the current crisis but in a normal year they are held on a monthly basis (with one or two gaps in the summer) and we often invite guest speakers from among the membership or beyond to display their material.
Annual competitions are held and awards made for journal articles and publications.
Generally, meetings are held in London but we have held meetings at the York Stamp Fair (including one at midnight!) and at the London International shows. A small group even held one at Stockholmia last year, which members from Scandinavia and beyond attended.
War and Philately, Banstead
This is a stamp and postal history fair held in August each year (but sadly not this year) which is attended by dealers specialising in military postal history. This is a popular event for members and non-members alike.
For more information on the Society, and to view the journal and displays, visit our website: forcespostalhistorysociety.org.uk
1. Postcard from Vladivostock sent in 1882 by a naval cadet on the German frigate SMS Elisabeth, part of the German East Asia Squadron
2. Cover from General Sir Hubert Gough, Commander of British Fifth Army in France, 1917
3. Cover from Major-General W Douglas, GOC 42nd Division, Helles, Gallipoli in 1915
4. Card from German Airforce Flieger-Abteilung No 10, unit of observation and reconnaissance aircraft. Redirected to hospital ship Adler
5. Cover to Captain HC Westmoreland, 1st Hampshire Regt, in Constantinople, part of the Army of the Black Sea, 1920
6. Air Mail Letter Card from Polish officer serving with the Free French Navy, posted through the British Army Postal Service, Syria
7. Southern Rhodesian Defence Force mobilisation card dated 3rd September 1939
8. Cover from Pictou Rifles, N Force, Canadian garrison in Bahamas, 1943-46, guarding the Governor of the Colony, the Duke of Windsor
9. Cover from Australian Forces, Korea, 1952
10. Special Cover from Royal School of Military Engineering Open Day, 1974.
Covers and cards courtesy of: 1. H Weinart, 2. A Baker, 3. C Grimshaw, 4, C Stephany-Weddell, 5. P Harvey, 6. N Colley, 7. R Berry, 8. A Baker, 9 & 10. M Dobbs