Saturday, March 21, 2009

World War I - Red Cross Related labels

Today's items are related to labels issued in India during world war I. These labels were issued mostly either to raise funds for sick and wounded soldiers or to support hospital ships in service. And each label carries a unique similarity: red cross symbol.

First of such label is shown below. This label depicts a nurse with wounded soldier. The label exists in imperf or perforation of 12, both conditions with various red shades. These labels were used from 25th August 1917 to 5th December 1917 as per "Patriotic & Propaganda of the British Commonwealth" catalog by Clive Edwards.

The label was issued in denomination of 1/2 anna. The label has message in Hindi and Bengali language. Even though the label carries symbol of red cross, by that time official Indian charter of Red cross was not operational. Most of nurses during world war I serving in India either belonged to "Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service" or to the "St. John Ambulance" association and the joint committee of the British Red Cross. During their work, the army nurses were armed for they carried revolvers to ward off enemy and robbers.

During British Raj years, the medical needs of the British Army and their families were met by the QAMNS (Queen Alexandra's Military Nursing Service) for India (known as the QAIMN[I]) until they were amalgamated to the QAIMNS in 1926 by the War Office.

The QAIMNS (Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service) with the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) continued to care for British servicemen and women and their families. While the Indian servicemen were cared for in Indian Military Hospitals which were staffed by Indian doctors, orderlies and members of the Indian Military Nursing Service (IMNS). Conditions were much different under this culture and hygiene standards were much lower than what any QA's would have approved.

Indian Red Cross society was officialy created much later in 1920.

Another of such label issued is shown below. The label was issued for "Central Provinces War Relief Fund" organised by lady Robertson.

This label also carries red cross symbol and text "For the wounded" in English, Urdu and Hindi. The label was issued in denomination of 1/2 anna. Exact date of issue of this label is not known but I have another copy of this label where the label carries postal seal dated 12th December 1917. Thus, I assume this and first label both were issued on same date.

Just for information, Lady Robertson was wife of Field Marshal Sir William Robert Robertson who served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1916 to 1918 during the first world war.

Another of such popular label of world war I era is shown below. The label depicts H.S. Madras (Hospital Ship Madras) at sea and carries a text "Madras War Fund". The label also has red cross symbol.

This ship was built in 1914 by British India Steam Navigation Company for BI's Calcutta-Far East service named as Tanda. The ship was taken over by Indian authorities as soon as first world war started, converted to hospital ship duties and renamed Madras.

The idea behind converting this ship to hospital ship was of Lord Pentland who was British Governor of Madras Presidency from 1912 to 1919. He was known for his outstanding war work between 1914 and 1918 in the Presidency of Madras, ably assisted by his public-spirited wife Lady Pentland. Both of them together raised a large sum of money for equipping the hospital ship. The ship was majorly maintained by the people of Madras who contributed whole heartedly for its successful run. This Hospital Ship created military history by plying regularly between Africa and India, and subsequently between Mesapotomia and India and rendering a splendid and much needed medical service in those hectic and turbulent days.

She was returned to BI in November 1919, resumed her Calcutta-Far East service and re-acquired her original name, Tanda. New BI ships made Tanda redundant and she was sold to Eastern & Australian SS Co in 1924. Following the outbreak of WW2 she was requisitioned to provide passenger and cargo services between Australian and Indian ports.

She was torpedoed and sunk by U-181 off Mangalore on 15the July 1944 en route from Colombo to Bombay and carrying a crew of 177, 12 gunners and 27 passengers, with 18 crew and 1 passenger losing their lives. The remainder were rescued by HMIS Bihar and landed at Colombo.

Last of all, I want to show another world war I label which also carries (a rather large) red cross symbol. This label is listed in Delandre's Red Cross catalog of 1914-1917.

The label has a text "Pondicherry", a french colony in India on east coast near Madras during that period. I could not gather any more information on this label.

I would really appreciate if a reader can share any information on any of labels shown here. None of these labels are described in detail in any of catalogue or books. Most of my research is based upon couple of hours of internet surfing. Hope you will enjoy the stories irrespective of their correctness!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

China-Burma-India Booklets for Soldiers

Today's item is an interesting one, specially for people who love reading literature. I will be showing two of army pocket guides published by China-Burma-India division, one by India-China division, and another by private party.

To start with, shown below is "A Pocket Guide to India" booklet prepared by "SPECIAL SERVICE DIVISION" of United States army. The booklet was printed and approved by "WAR AND NAVY DEPARTMENTS", WASHINGTON, D.C. sometime in 1942.

The booklet was prepared for United States army men who were being positioned in India to serve on China-Burma-India front. The small booklet provides very interesting facts and figures about India. Some of the numbers and details were even unknown to me. It gives very appealing account of India from outsider point of view.

Well! I just love this booklet. If you read it, you will know why India has always been a altogether different country and one of most fascinating place on earth. Now, don't start on "When I was in India......" :D

The booklet has a statement by the United States' Department of State, dated August 12, 1942:

American Soldiers in India

1. The sole purpose of the American forces in India is to prosecute the war of the United Nations against the Axis Powers. In the prosecution of the war in that area the primary aim of the Government of the United States is to aid China.

2. American forces are not to indulge to the slightest degrees in the activity if any other nature unless India should be attacked by the Axis powers, in which event American troops will aid in defending India.

3. American forces in India will exercise scrupulous care to avoid the slightest participation in India's political problem, or even the appearance of so doing.

4. In the event of internal disturbances American troops will resort to defensive measures only should their own personal safety, or that of other American citizens be endangered or for the necessary protection of American military supplies and equipment.

You can read complete booklet here: A Pocket Guide to India

The link is maintained by one of the most resourceful website China-Burma-India: Remembering the Forgotten Theater of World War II. When such website exists then as less I talk about China-Burma-India division or CBI (as it was known popularly) here the better. The website is loaded with facts on contribution done by CBI in turning the tide. I leave all my readers to browse the gem of information on that website.

The same website lists another pocket guide "The Calcutta Key", prepared by "SERVICES OF SUPPLY BASE SECTION TWO", information and education branch of United States Army Forces in India & Burma sometime in 1945.

The booklet was printed by the "The Indian Press Limited", in Calcutta. The booklet has interesting forward section by then Brig. Gen. R. R. Neyland. The booklet provides an introduction to Calcutta.

Calcutta was one of important center on CBI front. The city served in war with its airbases and harbor which was one of largest in Asia at that time.

It was important transit point for all the allied forces moving in and out of Burma and China from India.

You can read complete booklet here: The Calcutta Key.

A third booklet on same China India front is shown below. The booklet was issued by India China Division of Air Transport Command of Unites States Air Force.

Note that all of these booklets were marked as restricted with the statement: "This publication is not approved for mailing home, but may be taken out of the theater by individual. FOR USE OF MILITARY PERSONNEL ONLY."

But the above booklet that I have carries another page pasted inside to it which states that you can mail this home!. The page shown below is dated 1 September 1945.

And the last of all booklet that I want to show today is a very small pocket guide welcoming allies forces to Bombay. The booklet is titled "Welcome to Bombay: V For Victory ...".

This is private booklet published by B. R. Gobhai & Co. and printed by G. Claridge & Co., Ltd. in Bombay. The booklet carries Churchill's message and a letter by Katharine Lumley who was president of the hospitality for forces stationed in Bombay. The booklet carries facts & figures about Bombay and lots of advertisements by companies located in Bombay. Another very interesting booklet!

I think with this I started another thread in my blog :D In coming weeks, I will continue to show more literature materials on war. So, keep hanging around!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jhalawar War Tax or Weeding Revenue Stamps?

Today, we cover revenue stamps of another Indian princely states, Jhalawar.

This blog is going to be debatable because of the evidence I am going to produce to suggest that the revenue stamps presented here are related to "War Tax". Though, the catalogue book of "The Court Fee and Revenue Stamps of the Princely States of India" by Adolph Koeppel and Raymond D. Manners suggests otherwise.

Jhalawar, formerly south eastern Rajputana States Agency, is now a city in state of Rajasthan.

Shown below is example of Type 20 of size 80 x 35 mm, issued in 1940 - 45. These revenue stamps were printed in booklet pane of six on vertical laid grey Batonne paper.

These issues are known with carmine or black "W" overprinted in serif caps. The "W" is known large or small and is routinely found inverted. The value, at bottom of value circle, is a linear numeral followed by the word "anna" or "rupees", abbreviated. There are various shades known to be in existence. Leftmost above is of 8 annas, while rightmost is in denomination of 1 rupee, both on green color stamp and imperforated. Leftmost below is of 4 annas of same type.

Rightmost above is of Type 10 of size 80 x 38 mm, issued in 1940 - 49. There are three different printings. The first two are crude local prints, while the third is by rotogravure on surfaced paper. These were also issued in booklet panes of six. The above shown example is of variety (A) where printing was done on vertical laid paper, containing the linear numeral before the Hindi value spelled out in letters in the value box. The 4 a., blue in this printing is known with annas abbreviated.

As per K&M, on the second printing, an overprint in violet handstamp in English: "Weeding Already Due" is known on all values. This suggests that "W" was possibly used for "Weeding Already Due" :-) Well! I don't deny that but I have some evidence to present which suggest other meanings as well. Let's wait for that while we continue on more of these types.

Shown above and two of below pictures are of Type 36, size 26 x 31 mm, issued in 1940 - 45. These were printed on wove paper by L. V. Indap, Bombay in booklet pane of six. There are two variety of printing known in existence: the blurred and poorly inked local printing and a sharper photo-lithograph. The "W" overprint is found in black, blue or red serif caps of 3 mm height. These stamps exists in both perforated and imperforated type.

Again, "Weeding Already Due" is found on the chocolate and red colors in violet machine-stamp overprint.

Now, here is a sample of Type 36 used on document/receipt. Below image is of reverse side of the document where these revenue stamps were affixed.

The document/receipt shows some calculation done to indicate some sort of tax paid. Finally, here is the much awaited evidence which suggests usage of these stamps for war tax.

This is front portion of receipt. If you pay attention to the black arrow shown in above image, there is mention of war tax in Hindi along with tax calculation for cotton crop. This tax receipt is dated 27th January 1944 if I am not mistaken.

The receipt shows that Jhalawar revenue stamps with "W" overprint were possibly used for paying war tax as well. There is no denying of fact that "W" stands for "Weeding Already Due" as reported by K&M. But, there is another possibility that "W" is for "War Tax" or for both "War Tax" and "Weeding Already Due"?

With this, I leave the floor open for discussion among experts of philatelic community :-) Comments and opinions are as always welcome.
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