Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dasehra Week - War Fund Ticket (India)

Before I present today's item, let me tell you that I was feeling low initially showing these because I could hardly gather information on it like earlier post. But, then I started searching with other keywords and found very interesting piece of information surrounding the war fund tickets that I am gonna show.

So, let me reveal the suspense and come straight on topic. It is two different tickets/raffles for sports activities which were organized in aid of war fund during WW2 days. The tickets were issued by the Princely State of Jaipur. The first of such ticket is shown below.

The ticket was issued for "Hockey Match" in aid of war fund which was organized at Bhagwant Dass Barracks on the 8th Oct, 1940. The ticket was priced Rupees 2 and it was part of Dasehra Week celebration.

Shown above is similar ticket but this time issued for "Cricket Match" which was organized on next day i.e. on 9th Oct, 1940 at the college ground.

There is significance behind these tickets being issued during Dashera Week for War Fund. One can read more details on Dasehra or Dussehra or Vijaydashami. Typically, Dasehra falls every year in end of September or 1st to 2nd week of October as per Indian Hindu Calendar.

This festival has been the most celebrated one by the fighting castes since centuries. All Hindus try to make a beginning of their most cherished work on this auspicious day. According to the Hindu tradition, on this day Lord (God) Ram set out on his conquest of Lanka, and therefore it can be easily imagined the supreme importance of Dasehra in the eyes of the princes of Mewar and Amber who claimed direct descent from Lord (God) Ram. Its essence was the combination of worship and military display: all the arms, accoutrement and paraphernalia of the royalty and the state forces were inspected, and divine blessing sought on them by the Maharaja as the supreme commander of the troops and the chieftain of the clan.

There was century old tradition of holding such ceremony in Udaipur where a change was introduced in the details by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh of Jaipur in 1913, when all the State forces were assembled together at the Fatah-Tiba or Mount of Victory outside the capital. There, after offering worship to the gods, the colors were taken down and re-hosted, and a salute fired by the entire artillery.

This collective celebration was discontinued in 1924. Since then every unit of the army used to perform the Dasehra rites at its headquarters, conducting the puja (rituals), changing the colors and firing the salvo on the local scale. At Jaipur, the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh used to ride at the head of Sawai Man Guards to Amber, and offer adoration to the flag of this corps d'elite of his army before the Shila Mata, the goddess enshrined in that ancient capital. Later, there used to be day long ceremonies to celebrate the festival.

This tradition was also changed later by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II in 1939 when the inspection parade were held at the Bhagwant Dass Barracks, the headquarter of the Sawai Man Guards.

Now, you can understand why such war fund tickets were issued on occasion of Dasehra and one of the match was held at Bhagwant Dass Barracks which was the headquarter of the Sawai Man Guards. The other ground in question is Maharaja College Ground where Cricket match was organized. The ground is still one of the popular venue for hosting cricket matches.

After Independence , when Jaipur State was merged to complete the formation of the present state of Rajasthan, Jaipur City became its capital, and then these Bhagwant Dass Barracks were turned into the Secretariat of the Rajasthan Government.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Madras War Fund - Seal of Victory WW2 Label

Today's item is a WW2 patriotic label, issued by British India. I couldn't gather much information on it. Thus, I would appreciate if someone shares any information regarding it. The label often comes for sale on eBay but most of the time there is not much information published against it.

Shown above is a WW2 patriotic label called "Madras War Fund - Seal of Victory". The label has been quoted in "Patriotic & Propaganda of the British Commonwealth" catalogue by Clive Edwards. The red colored label was priced 1 Anna and shows three spitfire aircraft. It has perforation of 13 with size of 55x32.5 mm. The exact date of origination of this label is unknown.

I have another letter where it was used on cover with postal seal on it. The cover mentions date of 14th March 1941. Though, somewhere I read the label was possibly published in 1940.

Sorry to say, but this time my research has not brought any historical background behind this label. I can just think of fact that the label was issued in line with Madras War Fund 1/2 Anna label issued during WW1 (Hospital Ship label). During WW1, Madras War Fund was huge success; continuing the tradition in WW2, perhaps British Government would have issued another label to raise funds.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Japanese Propaganda Leaflet Against British India

If I see history of visitor's activity on my blog then I find lots of people look for propaganda leaflets. So to increase my TRP rating as they say for T.V. Channels, I have decided to share another propaganda leaflet :D

Though, there has not been any increase in my blogs virtual valuation as shown by Web Valuation since last couple of months, still I have decided to show such items which are sought after by most of my readers. Please, promote my blog by spreading positive rumors and increase my hypothetical value!!!! Too much ;-) for today.

OK, you want to decide after seeing the item then here it is. This is one of usual bright and full-colored Japanese leaflet with minimal text.

It depicts while Indian (part of British Army) soldiers are fighting in front, a caricature of Churchill (referring to Britain) is taking away the wealth of India in background. It also shows a woman weeping for wounded and possibly dying soldier husband. Also to be noted the fact that all the Indian soldiers are shown as chained in foot (bondage signaling deprived of freedom by Britain).

The leaflet reads:

Don't waste your life for Englishmen!

The Japanese leaflet is bilingual, Hindi and Bengali, the language that dominates eastern India and the present Bangladesh. Since the allied and axis forces were fighting in North-Eastern region of India after Japanese forces entered from Burma, all of Japanese leaflets carried text in both the languages.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Indian Information - Three Million Airgraphs A Month

Today, I am going to introduce another series in my blog :-) Sometime back last year, I had found a magazine or publication you can say on eBay which sounded me very interesting. It was an original publication but none bid on it. Despite putting it on my watch list, I forgot but later got it once seller agreed on re-opening it for me to bid. The price was higher still I bought it just out of curiosity.

The publication was "Indian Information". This publication was fortnightly issued by J. Natarajan, Principal Information Officer, Government of India. It was printed in India by Madan Gopal Mitter at Lal Chand & Sons, 76, Lower Circular Road, Calcutta. The same publication was reprinted with color cover and distributed by British Information Services, Washington, D.C. (USA) to save shipping space.

Its main aim was to provide a condensed record of the main peace and war activities of the Government of India, together with some outstanding facts about the British Government's war activities. The publication stated that it did not intend to compete with the Press; it existed for their convenience and was not intended for general circulation among the public.

It was meant for all those person and institutions whose general role was to inform the public, e.g., the public administrator, whether he be governmental (Central or Provincial), municipal, commercial, educational or institutional, the editor, the publisher, the journalist and the publicist.

It is very tough to get hands on reprinted publications forget about original ones. Remember even reprinted versions are official ones only. I don't see any difference in reprinted or original versions in terms of matter though original will always command more price when it comes to valuations. But, both are now days rare to find. It is indeed a WWII collectors treasure especially those who are interested in WWII literature given that this is official publication. Most of these are now available in libraries and museum only world wide. Well, I was fortunate enough to get hold of some editions :-) at very reasonable price.

Since it is publication thus it is difficult to cover completely in one post. So, I have decided to selectively publish articles from this publication here. The publication really gives good insight of war activities and related situation in India and other nations.

As part of that, today I am presenting an article from Vol. 13, No. 120, August 15, 1943 dated edition front cover of which is shown above. This article is about Airgraph Service in India, from its inception to war time situation including difficulties that Postal Department was facing at that time. A very interesting article touching even stamp theft cases those times and reason behind them. It also provides information why certain changes were done in Postal system to overcome theft problem which is still in existence today.

It took me a while but I have typed complete article as it is from publication. In fact, I have also provided enlarged image of the Director General of Posts and Telegraphs Department of India those days.

Mr. W. H. Shoobert In Expansion Of The Service

The fact that the Indian post office handles three million airgrphs a month- a million and a half inward and an equal number of outward airgraphs - was enclosed by Mr. W. H. Shoobert, Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs, in a broadcast talk on "The Airgraph Service" from the Delhi Station of All India Radio on July 19. Mr. Shoobert gave a brief history of the service and its extension to India in 1942 and explained its particular advantages to the general public for overseas correspondence.

Here is the full text of Mr. Shoobert's Talk:

I have been asked to speak tonight about Airgraphs for a particular reason which I will explain presently. First, however, may perhaps recall, to those who are interested in this most useful device for wartime correspondence, a little of its brief history.

An airgraph service between the United Kingdon and our Army in the Middle East was introduced two years ago as a means of solving the problem of making the best possible use of the capacity available for mails on the direct air route - capacity which was very limited, indeed, owing to the heavy demands for other purposes connected with the war. The service from India to the United Kingdom became available in February, 1942.

A Thousand An Hour
As most of you know, letters on airgraph forms received at post offices throughout India are sent to the Airgraph Section in the Bombay General Post Office, where all outward airgraphs are collected, numbered, sorted, made up into bundles and transferred to the Kodak Studios. At the Studios each letter is photographed upon a tiny negative about half an inch square - and the rate at which the airgraphs forms pass through the special machine installed for the purpose is about 1000 an hour.

The rolls of films are developed in the Studios, carefully examined for faults, and packed in containers which are returned to the General Post Office for transmission by air to their destination. On arrival they are enlarged and a photographic reproduction of each original letter about 5 inches by 4 inches is printed and delivered to the addressee in a special type of envelope with a cut0out panel through which the address on the airgraph enlargement shows out.

A Great Future
Some of you may not know that while one pound weight of ordinary air or surface mail would on an average comprises only about thirty letters, one pound weight of airgraph film including the spool and container carries about three thousand airgraphs. Three thousand communications to the pound - instead of thirty - a hundred times gain in capacity!

That is the great future of the service - and it has a considerable advantage over all other forms of correspondence - for if an airgraph in spite of the careful examination to which it is subjected in the Studios is found on enlargement to be indecipherable for any reason (except, of course, just bad writing), or if owing to any accident a batch of films is lost in transit, a report is telegraphed from the place of receipt, and the original message is traced, re-photographed and transmitted a second time.

Another special convenience of this method of communication is that it can be utilised for advising remittances in code by approved Banks - and I may perhaps add a further great advantage in it which must appeal to the busy man - that is that limited space on an airgraph form furnishes him with an excellent excuse for writing only the briefest of letters to his devoted relations. Did I hear the opinion expressed that it is pity the noting of some Secretariat Departments is not confined to airgraph forms?

Service From India
It is an interesting fact that the airgraph service from India to the United Kingdom was available some months before that from the United Kingdom to India. As I have mentioned, the former started in February, 1942, but it was not until June 11 of that year that the first inward airgraphs arrived from England via Cairo, where they were enlarged and printed, because no enlarging apparatus was then available in India. The result was that for some time the inward service took considerably longer in transit than the outward, but in September 1942 Messrs. Kodak were able to install enlarging machinery in India and the first direct airgraph from the United Kingdom was received at the end of that month.

In addition to the service to the United Kingdom, airgraphs were introduced for Eire in April 1942, for Canada in October 1942 and for Newfoundland in April 1943. On the 10th of the current month a new direct airgraph service will also be available to and from New Zealand, the Fiji Islands, Tonga Islands and New Hebrides.

A Blessing
That a large number of people regard the airgraph as a blessing can be gauged from the fact that while in February 1942, the month of its introduction, 98,593 outwards airgraphs were flown from India, during the four weeks which have just passed more than a million and a half airgraphs left these shores - a very large proportion of which written by men in Fighting Forces. In the first full month for which the inward airgraph mail was available 255,300 of them were brought to India, but by April 1943 inward receipts also had risen to almost a million and a half monthly.

The average time taken by airgraphs in transit during the last two months has been nine days. Normally, about three days are occupied in enlarging and processing airgraphs received, but when consignments are very heavy this standard cannot, of course, be maintained. For communications with the countries for which it is available the airgraph is therefore incomparably quicker than the ordinary air mail which, owing to the load difficulty, still has to be carried for large part of its journey by surface route.

Theft Of Stamps
Each month, then, airgraphs in millions are being dispatched from India and safely delivered at their destinations, but it is of certain very disquieting cases, in which airgraph forms, duly stamped by those who wrote them, have never reached our Airgraph Section in Bombay, that I wish particularly to speak tonight.

Some publicity has already been given to the detection of thefts of undefaced stamps from airgraph forms in Karachi and Calcutta, and it is not unlikely that reports which have been current may have effected the confidence of some who have been using this method of correspondence. That those responsible for the administration of the Postal Services in India have been gravely disturbed by the disclosure of organised pilfering is an understatement of our feelings. The discovery that a group of minor officials of the Department were involved in this particularly contemptible form of postal crime was even more upsetting. But now that the crime has been detected and a number of arrests have been made it is only fair to inform the public of measures which have been taken to obviate the recurrence of this kind of thing in future.

Checks And Safeguards
I must explain that there are, of course, a number of ordinary departmental checks prescribed to prevent the theft of stamps by an occasional dishonest officer, and supervising officers are continually reminded of their responsibilities in this respect but it is the business of the determined thief to circumvent checks and safeguards and unfortunately the present extraordinary economic conditions and the fact that stamps have, in many places, been passing as currency have rendered both temptation and opportunity to commit crimes of this nature more obvious.

A dishonest private servant or orderly on a comparatively low pay must obviously find in the eight-anna stamp affixed to an airgraph, entrusted to him for posting, an easy means of supplementing his salary just as a minor postal official may find in it a ready temptation to conceal and pilfer an occasional article when opportunity offers. That such a danger might exist became particularly evident when the shortage of small coin was first felt in various parts of India. For that reason, in 1942, a Postal Notice was issued announcing that the postage stamps affixed to the airgraph forms, handed over by members of the public to postal officials for onward transmission, would be defaced in their presence.

We have recently made further announcements earnestly requesting the public, in their own interests, to see that this instruction is strictly followed, and advising them, as far as possible, to hand in personally at the Post Office counter their airgraphs or any mail letters bearing stamps of eight annas or more in value. Alternatively, it is wise to send a reliable servant to do so. This should not be very much trouble. After all, telegrams are booked in much the same way.

Embossed Forms
I have also to tell you that for some months we have been exploring the possibility of producing an airgraph form with the stamp embossed or printed upon it. There were certain difficulties, but it is hoped that forms embossed with three-anna stamps for the use of troops and eight-anna stamps for the use of the general public will be available for sale at post offices in a short time, and this should prove an effective solution of the problem with which we have had to deal.

You may ask whether any provision will be made for exchanging embossed forms which have become spoiled in any way. The reply is "yes". It is proposed to refund the value of such forms at post offices with a deduction of one anna for the cost thereof. I would here remind you that, for ordinary air mail, envelopes with 14-anna stamps printed on them can be purchased at all big post offices.

We may trust with confidence that the measures which have been taken will ensure that incidents such as those which occurred in Calcutta and Karachi will not happen again. Our regret that they have happened is none the less bitter. I hope that the information which I have given will reassures the listeners that the Posts and Telegraphs Department, under difficulties which are at the present time extreme, is fully mindful of its duty to the public and watchful of the public interests.

In conclusion, I would once more appeal to those who use foreign air mail to help protect their own interests by getting the stamps defaced by the postal staff in their own presence whenever possible.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Indian Military Air Letter Cards - WWII

It's good to see year starting on hectic note on work front. Unfortunately, that means I will have less time to publish posts. That was the case in January. Even February seems going the same way. So before, I go back to work let me post some interesting item :-)

Today's post is first of its kind in my blog. This is one of the area I have recently started collecting and I am really enjoying it. Though, the items are costlier than stamps, these are worth spending your hard earned money. OK, this is my personal view. I know most of the people say stock market or real estate are worth investing. Well, you know what I mean when I say spending money. I see it as investment in divine happiness :D that it brings to me which no monetary return can ever buy!

Let's cut the philosophy part and concentrate on item. The item shown below is called Military Air Letter. You can search on Google to find the history behind it such as when did it start. In brief, as name suggests it was air service started for soldiers serving in WWII in various theaters by British government.

Initially, the design of these air letters were common in most of the areas but slowly, the air letters became localized to region it was being sent from. Thus, you can find military air letters of India, Middle-East, Europe, Canada and others. Of course, we will be concentrating on only Indian air letters of WWII. In general, every military air letter is worth collecting given the illustrations it carry.

The best work on Indian Military Air Letter of WWII had been done by late O.R.J. Lee. His work titled "Indian Military Air Letters Card 1942-47" was published by the Forces Postal History Society.
The book covers various aspect from its origination to classification of air letters mentioning various illustrations, variations and unrecorded types. I will just touch lightly on its origin. According to the book, the exact date/origin of Indian Military Air Letter is disputed but it is supposed to be somewhere in September/October 1942 when first time British Government started Indian Military Air Letter service in India for soldiers serving in SEAC region.

Some of the air letters were issued with 3 annas while majority of them carry 4 annas. Later, the Christmas and New Year Greetings Air Letters were introduced which were distributed free to soldiers (of course there was various rationing done such as 1 per week to 2 per month etc).

My interest lies more on these type of illustrated air letters which the book calls "Christmas Greetings Issues", category ICG. For my readers benefit, I am going to quote a complete para on it.


As in the Middle East, troops in India, Ceylon and South East Asia commands had the concession of sending Air Letters to U.K. postage free for Xmas delivery in 1942 to 1945. Each year, specially printed forms were issued but not all of them were postage free and the supply did not always equal the demand. In cases of shortage, the normal issues of Air Letter forms were printed to carry an endorsement. FREE XMAS LETTER CARD, FREE XMAS MAIL or POSTAGE FREE were the usual endorsements used. Sometimes the endorsement was made by the sender in manuscript, sometimes typed on (by the unit?) and occasionally impressed with a rubber stamp. They have been seen in 1942 and 1943 only and the use of normal forms with endorsement is not the subject of a listing in the ICG category.

Let me stop here ;-) and continue on exact item details. The item I am going to show is categorized as ICG 44, Sub-Type 1. Coded S.S.P. Ltd. - G1623 - 15-9-44 - 3 lacs.

Shown above is Sub-type 1, issued in 1944. The air letter shown above was postage free. The same year also saw the formation of SEAC (South East Asia Command) which added its own Greetings forms to the various issues of 1943. [We will cover them in future.]

This was the general issue from for India Command and had an exterior layout as for the normal forms of the period but with the overlay cut out 52x44 mm. at the left to take a block illustrating a tigers head over a map of India and Ceylon. The background of this block is a set of dots at right angles to one another but slanted 78 degree upwards to the right (and 12 degree up to the left). This dotting is cut out behind the tiger's face. At the bottom in script is:- "Greetings from India". On this sub-type, the "from" is in albino over the blue land area of the map.

The air letter mentions I.A.F.F. 1083 below the map. Down below on the back side appears - THESE CARDS ARE FOR THE USE OF H.M. FORCES ONLY. and there is provision for Sender's details and the language written in.

If you look further down you can see the printer order coding. The vast majority of these air letters are identified by a printers code consisting of four main parts:-

1. The initials of the printer,
2. The Forces Order Reference,
3. The date of the order (not the printing date)
4. The quantity ordered.

So, this one mentions S.S.P. Ltd. - G1623 - 15-9-44 - 3 lacs. The printer here is S.S.P. Ltd. or Sree Saraswaty Press at Calcutta, India. G1623 was order reference. The forms were ordered on 15th September 1944 and the quantity of printing was 3 lacs.

Here comes the best part of this air letter: the illustration. The inside of the air letter form, taking up the full double page (sideways) is a picture of the Taj Mahal in green, blue and black, enclosed in a thin orange-yellow circle. It is surrounded by designs of two monkeys at the top left, faces of two Indian men and two Indian women at the top right. The designer appended his name "Dust". Just below the centre is CHRISTMAS GREETINGS in orange-yellow with a white space underneath for a short message.

This being a used air letter, it cost me a good money but given the fact that it is still in good shape without any tear, it was just worth grabbing. Since, I like monkeys and tigers you know these WWII stuff was fatal attraction for me not to mention the Taj Mahal :D Oh man! I just love these vintage art work.
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