Great Britain and British Commonwealth GREAT BRITAIN Postal History
Sale No: 7
Lot No: 1201
Cat No: ME2, Cat £550
1840 (Sep 6) usage of Mulready Envelope 1d black (SG ME2, Cat £550), intact but with the address partly-erased & some faults, oily Maltese Cross in red & 'STA...S' b/s, London arrival b/s of 7SP7/1840. A presentable 'space-filler'.
1841 (Dec 29) usage of Mulready Letter Sheet 2d blue (SG ME3, Cat £2400), bold Maltese Cross in black & indistinct cds b/s, light London transit b/s in red & 'DOVER/DE30/1841' arrival b/s, the stereo number lost on opening, minor internal repair with archival rape & some hinge adhesions on the reverse.
1855 (Jan 3) social entire headed "Lochaiwoods" to Victoria "pr the Lightning via Liverpool" with Embossed 6d (large margins with fragments of the adjoining units at right & the base, crossed by vertical filing-fold) tied by Scottish BN '108' of 'DUMFRIES' (b/s), Liverpool transit b/s in blue & '1d' accountancy h/s in red on the face, largely very fine 'SHIP LETTER/FREE/MA*21/1855/GPO VICTORIA' arrival cds across the flap, a little spotty. Cheap at the vendor's estimate. ["Lochawood" or "Lochaiwood" is the name of an hereditary Scottish seat of the Earls of Carlyle]
1867 (Dec 3) cover to Victoria "via Panama" with Large Corner Letters 6d violet Plate 6 wing-margin example tied by superb 'LONDON -WC - WC/12' duplex, Melbourne arrival b/s of FE12/68, vertical fold just clear of the stamp, some blemishes & docketing on the face. Via Panama covers are scarce. [The addressee, Dr Horatio St John Clarke, died at his home "Yarraville" in 'Victoria Street' Richmond on 29.6.1895. The Richmond Historical Society states that Simpson's Road was named after the early settler James Simpson & known locally by that name but was "officially named Victoria Street". That is probably inaccurate because there was a Simpsons Road post office between c. -.12.1876 & 11.6.1892 so we expect the name was officially changed only after the closure. The Victoria Street post office, opened 3.12.1906, may have been on the same site]
1898 (July 22) Messageries Nationales Express postcard addressed to "Tonga, Friendly Islands" advising that a parcel from Stanley Gibbons had been sent to the recipient c/- forwarding agents in Sydney with "2/8"[d] to pay, franked with ½d orange 'MN' commercial perfins x2 tied London cds, Sydney 'AU23' transit cds on face and 'NUKU ALOFA/TONGA/10 SP [ ]/11AM' arrival b/s (no year plugs), a couple of very minor blemishes. Paid 1d for the British Empire postcard rate; carried by ship & train to Brindisi to meet the P&O Line 'Rome' to Adelaide & rail to Sydney, then by Nord-Deutscher Lloyd 'Lubeck' on the Samoa feeder service to Tonga. Ex Dr Tony Orchard.
1942 (Feb 19) airmail cover from Durham to "Royal Air Force/Head quarters/JAVA" redirected (where?) to the RAF Liaison Officer in Melbourne with very fine 'RAAF/BASE PO No1/8OC42/MELBOURNE/AUST' arrival b/s, forwarded again to "Repatriation Sanitorium/McLeod Mont Park" (a polite euphemism for the Mont Park mental asylum) with Melbourne machine of 14OCT/1942, minor spotting at the base. An outstanding WWII and 'Horseshoe' Route cover.
Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15.2.1942. Forces personnel who weren't already in the Dutch Indies were withdrawn there and absorbed into the very short-lived American British Dutch & Australian Command (ABDA). The Japanese invaded Java 10.1.1942 and all resistance ceased 12.3.1942.
The $64,000 question is: "How did this letter get to Australia?" According to Ted Proud, the final eastwards flying boat service beyond India, per 'Coorong', got as far as the Andaman Islands, arriving at Port Blair 20.2.1942, and returning to Calcutta the next day. After that, services terminated at Calcutta.
Of course, the letter was en route by sea to Durban to connect with the 'Horseshoe' Route to Egypt and India. It couldn't have reached India until after Java was on the point of collapse. It's extraordinary that it wasn't simply struck with a 'SERVICE SUSPENDED' marking and returned to the sender. This could have happened at Durban in late February, or Cairo, or Calcutta well into March. But it didn't and somehow made its way to Australia. The least dangerous option would have been to transfer the mail to an Australia-bound ship at Durban. It would have arrived at Fremantle after a couple of weeks: why was it still in the postal system seven months later?
The Allies faced a huge logistical challenge to evacuate civilians and Forces personnel from Java. The situation was chaotic and dangerous. Such niceties as shipping manifests and passenger rolls were dispensed with. Nobody knew where anybody else was; who had perished; who had survived; or where the survivors might have ended-up. The fact that LAC Leo Garbutt was tracked-down to a mental asylum could indicate that he was so traumatised by events that he couldn't even remember his own name. This could well explain the lengthy delay in delivering his mail.
Other suggestions are invited and welcome.
1944 (Sep 20) cover to an Army officer with 2½d tied by superb 'UPPINGHAM/RUTLAND' & large boxed '...THE/ADDRESSEE IS REPORTED/MISSING BELIEVED/PRISONER OF WAR' cachet in violet; plus 2½d POW Air Mail POW Lettersheet to the same officer in Germany with British octagonal censor cachet & 'OFLAG 79/Gepruft/ 3 ' cachet both in rosine, stain on the face caused by the first paragraph of the letter having been obliterated by one of the censors.