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Europe/Great Britain : GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

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Ningpo
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28 Oct 2015
11:03:03am
Perhaps collectors are fickle, or they are at times too quick to dismiss something that doesn't fit the norm.

I found this WWI cover on eBay, listed by a seller from whom I have bought in the past (my Royal Flying Corps cover for example, for those that saw it).


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It had quite a bit going for it: On Active Service, registered, a 5d definitive (which probably paid the correct rate), a pretty good FPO strike, a clear Passed By Censor mark and avery good Officer De Liaison mark that has been countersigned.

It also had a registered label. Now this I think, is where others looking at it got cold feet. It is not 'tied' to the envelope.

I noticed this myself but looked at it carefully. It is the same type of CDS and with the same date.

My conclusion was that there wasn't anything wrong with it. It is fairly likely that the conditions of the day; proximity to the hostilities, stress, very unpleasant postroom conditions (sometimes tents, sometimes temporary wooden structures) and workload, may have forced the postal clerks to work in a different way.

As can be seen, the label has been struck twice. This leads me to believe that for expediency, the clerk pre-stamped a whole pane (or block) of these, then tore one off and attached it, as needed.

Although the seller only posted the front, I put a bid in and won it. On receipt, I looked at the reverse and unexpectedly found three more postal markings:

Image Not Found

For 99 pence, I am delighted.

I shall of course try to find out where this was posted from but if anyone can provide any details, or opinions, I'd be grateful.

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Ningpo
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14 Dec 2015
12:57:00pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

I've just found these two postcard images which, although witty, are probably not far from the truth about field post office conditions at the front:

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At the centre of this next one are the words 'KELLER FUR 10 PERSONEN', which illustrates how mobile these FPO's were, in that they had to set up home in captured territory:

Image Not Found



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ikeyPikey
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15 Dec 2015
12:32:07am
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

I worked some years with a Yorkshireman (couldn't be helped), and enjoy employing the occasional Brit usage or spelling or idiom to add a bit of colour to my posts.

But, lately, I find myself setting aside more & more Brit humor cards (most often from Bamforth) in a "get this explained some day" pile.

It is in this spirit that I confess that I am unsure of the precise (to be generous) meaning of these cards.

For example, are the sacks in front of the field post office full of mail, and is it undelivered (to the troops) or unforwarded (to the homeland). Or, are the sacks full of all of the money the GPO is making off of the war? The smirking joker in the hut, one hopes, rules-out the possibility that the card is a cruel comment about the battle casualty rates.

Nice score on that cover, Ningpo: the possibility that the Registry stickers had been gang-cancelled on a sheet before being attached to the covers did not occur to me, and I only wish that I could assure you that this is the correct explanation.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
15 Dec 2015
06:49:59am
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

" ... Or, are the sacks full of all of the money the GPO is making off of the war? ..."

I am curious, why would you think that the postal service would be making a lot of money off the War ? Was there a post war scandal involving RM ?

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".... You may think you understood what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you think you heard is not what I thought I meant. .... "
ikeyPikey
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15 Dec 2015
08:22:41am
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

If there was a scandal, I never heard of it.

OTOH, the cartoon is a cartoon, which suggests something worthy of criticism.

Had those millions of soldiers been at home, their folks would not have been writing, so I'm thinking that revenue might have increased. I do not know if the Royal Mail was paid to carry soldiers' mail home, or paid by whom, whether/not it was free to the soldier.

And, while the use of 'Somme' might merely be a convenient phoneticism, the Brits lost ~20,000 dead on the first day; how much of their mail was paid for, but never delivered?

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
15 Dec 2015
11:57:29am
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

Okay, I just wondered if there was something specific.
I think that while it might take time to sort out mail to a deceased that would have to be returned to sender, assuming there was a return address, it would increase the cost to RM and probably there would be a bill introduced in Parliament to cover such a high and unforeseen amount. I can only imagine the distress a parent or loved one would experience when six to eight months after an engagement such as the Battle of the Somme a letter is returned destroying the thought that the soldier, at least had received a comforting letter at the front before his untimely death.
Just another chapter in fates book titled "War is Really Hell"

Another somber thought, can you imagine the psychological effect on the DLO workers assigned to open such letters bearing no outside return address, who had to read some of the contents seeking a comment that yields a way to process the undeliverable letter.
A sensitive person, knowing the circumstances might find some letters overwhelming.
Just another victim on the home front.

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Guthrum
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15 Dec 2015
04:15:42pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

I think the comical postcards simply reflect the widely-held suspicion by the Tommies of WW1 (and indeed by any soldier far from home in any war) that letters from home were somehow not being delivered. Or at least quickly enough.

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ikeyPikey
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15 Dec 2015
04:42:04pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

If they'd made me King, cdj1122, I would order any undelivered mail destroyed.

Q/ Does anyone have a cover returned during any war marked "Died First"?

I would have thought that the better thing to do would be to burn the undelivered mail.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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Ningpo
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15 Dec 2015
07:38:06pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

By coincidence I was viewing this cover only yesterday:


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Here are the hand-written collector's notes attached. Fortunately this letter was from his bank and not his parents:


Image Not Found

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ikeyPikey
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15 Dec 2015
08:41:39pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

That took you almost three hours, Ningpo; not a bad turn-around time for an amateur Winking

Okay, clearly they returned the mail of KIAs.

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Ningpo
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15 Dec 2015
09:17:16pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

Just to refer back to my previous post: Measures were eventually put in place to ensure that mail from the front, that was marked KILLED IN ACTION, was intercepted until the sender had been officially informed.

This was to rectify the situation where, most of the mail in the early part of the war, which reached the front‑line after the addressee had been killed, was sent back direct to the sender.

From February 1915, all returned mail endorsed "Missing" or "Killed" was first sent to the Home Depot in the U.K. There, it was sorted into bundles and sent to the appropriate Record Office; or in the case of officers, to the War Office. It was held until relatives had been informed of their loss.

It is therefore more likely that the letter shown in my post, would not have gone directly to the sender.

THE GALLIPOLI CAMPAIGN

In Gallipoli, more unopened letters from those killed in action were being passed back from the front than letters going forward. The GPO always ensured that returned letters didn't arrive before the official telegram telling the family that their son was dead. There were 30,000 unopened letters every day.

ikeyPikey wrote::

Quote:

"I do not know if the Royal Mail was paid to carry soldiers' mail home, or paid by whom, whether/not it was free to the soldier."



From the beginning of the war, soldier's mail was charged at 1d. Inevitably through the confusion of war and postal difficulties, a lot was sent unpaid. The recipient was charged postage due but only the actual cost; 1d. So much mail was sent unpaid that complaints about this unfair charge reached the ears of the General Postmaster. In August 1915 he issued the following statement:

"It has been decided by the Government that in future all letters written by soldiers on active service may be sent to this country without any payment by the soldier and without any charge being made upon the recipient of the letter."

However, from what I can find, registered mail was not sent free of charge.

This concession was also extended to American troops, when they joined the war.

Regarding money matters: The GPO was a department of state and not a private corporation. I would imagine that in view of its huge investment of resources to the war effort, the £32 million 'profit' it made pre-war was not seen again for some time.



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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
19 Dec 2015
10:35:02pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

The free franking privilege is the least any government can do for the men and women
who have put their lives and future well being on the line daily.
Besides, every vehicle that carries supplies to the front wherever it may be has to return,
usually empty, but for body bags.
I cannot think of one trip I made to Vietnam when we carried anything of significance
on the return leg.
Our cargo holds were so empty that we often topped off the fuel tanks in Singapore,
if westbound, or Japan, if east, to add ballast and increase stability lest we run afoul
of an Indian Ocean tropical cyclone or, of course, a Pacific typhoon, a la the USS Caine..
On one return trip there was a westbound typhoon passing south of Hawaii that Captain
Smarr, the master of the SS Transyork decided would curve north and back east as such
storms often do, so he altered course to the south to give it a wide berth.
Unfortunately, the typhoon continued its westward course and by the next afternoon,
the ship was a rockin' and a rollin' in the direct path of the storm. It took a while to get
the skipper to give up trying the Queeg gambit and we came about for the night.
It was still touch and go as the eye passed over us and I was very glad the typhoon
was of moderate strength as had it been stronger I'd not be here telling the story,
much to everyone's relief, no doubt.


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".... You may think you understood what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you think you heard is not what I thought I meant. .... "
malcolm197
21 Dec 2015
06:48:40pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

Mail from London to the soldier and vice versa was handled by the Royal Engineers (not the GPO who ran the UK end of the business) - hence the R.E. on the envelope. The Engineers were responsible for consigning the post for the right unit to the right FPO, as for security reasons civilians could not have that information.

By all accounts given the appalling conditions ( and casualties ) they didn't make a bad fist of it.

As far as the humour is concerned I am not sure that there is any implied criticism. It seems to me that it is trying to make light-hearted comment on the chaos which is evident in every war situation, with only the normal level of cynicism, and self-deprecation typical of the British character in adversity.

Malcolm

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
22 Dec 2015
01:48:16pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

Those who have never been in the military or some quasi-military service might find it hard to understand the comraderie and sometimes gallows humor that develops among the men and women who often live under trying circumstances for long periods of time.

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".... You may think you understood what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you think you heard is not what I thought I meant. .... "
ikeyPikey
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24 Mar 2016
09:03:59pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

And, on a related note:

Image Not Found

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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"I collect stamps today precisely the way I collected stamps when I was ten years old."
mozzerb
13 Aug 2017
05:37:11pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

To comment on the original question:

Quote:

"It also had a registered label. Now this I think, is where others looking at it got cold feet. It is not 'tied' to the envelope.

I noticed this myself but looked at it carefully. It is the same type of CDS and with the same date.

My conclusion was that there wasn't anything wrong with it. It is fairly likely that the conditions of the day; proximity to the hostilities, stress, very unpleasant postroom conditions (sometimes tents, sometimes temporary wooden structures) and workload, may have forced the postal clerks to work in a different way.

As can be seen, the label has been struck twice. This leads me to believe that for expediency, the clerk pre-stamped a whole pane (or block) of these, then tore one off and attached it, as needed."


Yes, that's what happened, but that was roughly what was supposed to happen.

These blank labels were originally (1907) meant for use at offices (typically small towns and villages) that didn't register enough letters to merit specially printed labels. The idea was that the postmaster would "customize" a sheet of them in advance with the office datestamp with the date slugs taken out.

That idea was abandoned in 1914, and from then on the blank labels were used mostly for emergencies, special events and the like. However, during both world wars, the field post offices used them. Generally, they didn't bother to take the date slugs out, probably for the reasons you mention!
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Ningpo
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13 Aug 2017
07:55:40pm
re: GB: Registered WWI OAS cover - ignored by buyers

Thanks for your comments and for reminding me about a cover I saw for sale which replicates the use of 'pre-cancelled' registration labels. I downloaded the image about a month ago. This time it's from WWII but the postal clerks apparently used the same procedure:


Image Not Found

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