Sunday, July 25, 2010

India WW2 Pigeongram - Nur Jehan

Today's post is on one WWII Indian Pigeongram envelope issued by Indian Airmail Society. I don't need to explain the history behind usage of pigeon's for carrying message. They have been in service since centuries to carry message. One can find many stories of love, betrayal or wartime when pigeon played important roles as messengers.

Now, don't expect me to talk about the Pigeon used in Indian blockbuster movie "Maine Pyar Kiya" (a close translation would be:I fell in love) and its heroics in conveying love messages between lovers. Indian cinema have certainly immortalized Pigeons through movies since the birth of cinema in India. But here, I'll briefly touch upon stories of couple of Pigeons who helped creating history other than in cinema :-)

In modern times, the pigeon had been used to great effect during WWI & WWII. In both the First and Second World Wars, the pigeon saved hundreds of thousands of human lives by carrying messages across enemy lines. Pigeons were carried on ships in convoys and in the event of a U-boat attack a messenger pigeon was released with details of the location of the sinking ship. In many cases this led to survivors being rescued and lives saved.

In the First World War mobile pigeon lofts were set up behind the trenches from which pigeons often had to fly through enemy fire and poison gas to get their messages home. The birds also played a vital role in intelligence gathering and were used extensively behind enemy lines where the survival rate was only 10%.

In the Second World War pigeons were used less due to advances in telecommunications, but the birds still relayed invaluable information back to the allies about the German V1 and V2 Rocket sites on the other side of the English Channel.

When one talks about Pigeon's role during wars then there are couple of names which comes to mind instantly.

First of them is Cher Ami (dear friend) who saved the lives of many French soldiers by carrying a message across enemy lines in the heat of battle during WWI. Cher Ami was shot in the chest and the leg, losing most of the leg to which the message was attached, but continued the 25-minute flight avoiding shrapnel and poison gas to get the message home. Cher Ami was awarded the French ‘Croix de Guerre’ medal for heroic service.

Another heroic pigeon named G.I. Joe saved the lives of a thousand soldiers in World War 2 after British troops had established a position within an Italian town that was due to be bombed by allied planes. Communication equipment was down and the only means of stopping the raid was to attach a hastily written message to G.I. Joe and send him to the allied HQ. G.I. Joe flew 20 miles in 20 minutes arriving at the air base whilst the planes were taxiing on the runway. Disaster was averted with 5 minutes to spare. G.I. Joe received the ‘Dickin’ medal for his bravery.

And the last one without whom the post will be incomplete was Paddy, from Northern Ireland, who received a medal for becoming the first bird to fly back with news of the D-Day landings in Normandy in less than five hours.

Naturally, the then Indian state of Orissa police were so impressed that 40 pigeons were acquired from the Indian Army and deployed across the region immediately. You would be disappointed to hear that Pigeon services which were used since 1946 in India were finally discontinued in 2004 in Orissa state.

Anyway, so coming back to today's item, the Pigeongram was carried by the Pigeon named NUR JEHAN.

Shown above is the front side of Pigeongram. The envelope was carried on 14th October from Burdhwan to Calcutta. The envelope carries a half anna stamp on it with Calcutta cancellation. It shows a possibly olive tree with Pigeons/Doves (a messenger of peace) flying. It also carries a patriotic message printed on it which urges everyone to be united and contribute as much possible to help win the war:

The Nazi Bombers,
Their Bombs They drop & bolt.
The Infant and the Aged,
They are out to kill.
Its up to you to do your bit,
And make them still.

The reverse side carries signature of Stephen Smith, the secretary of Indian Airmail Society that time or rather father of Rocket Mail in India. The envelope also has a box shaped slogan cancellation on it which states "BUY DEFENCE SAVINGS CERTIFICATES".

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Indian Military Air Letter Card - WW2

Today's post is another example of Indian Military Air Letter Cards. This particular example is labeled as ICG (Christmas Greetings Issues) 45, Sub-type 10. This was issued by the R.A.F. Postal Services and Welfare.

The front side as shown above carries a design of an Indian Father Christmas driving a sledge pulled by two Indian Cebu (a type of reindeer). The top heading is DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS in white color on blue background. It also shows BY AIR MAIL tablet.

Over the Cebu is a blank address space. On the back appears in blue print:-



This is followed by instructions on availability to U.K., Eire, B.L.A., U.S.A. and all British Empire countries and forces. At the bottom left is printed UNIT CENSOR/STAMP. The forms were printed in bright colors of dark blue, light greenish blue, red and brown.

The interior has a blue border on the left, top and right which is 19mm wide. There are differences in the shading of the scroll which carries SEASON'S GREETINGS. There exists four different varieties of such example.

I have mint sample as shown above but if someone has used sample in good condition and wiling to offer then please contact me.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bombay War Gifts Fund - WW2 Label

This one was long pending post. Finally, it is out :-) This is one of the most common Indian WW2 label which everyone is familiar with. There are two of them.

The one shown on top is titled "Help To Defend Your Country" with Bombay War Gifts Fund. It shows 3 planes in square on left side of stamp with text on right side. The stamp was issued in two different color light and dark blue with denomination of half Anna. It was of size 45x26 mm. The label has been quoted in "Patriotic & Propaganda of the British Commonwealth" catalogue by Clive Edwards as 1/551.

The one at bottom was another variety of same type. This one was titled "Buy This And Help The R.A.F." with Bombay War Gifts Fund. It also shows 3 planes in square on left side of stamp with text on right side. The stamp was issued in Grey blue color with denomination of half Anna. It was of size 45x26 mm and known to be issued around 3rd Oct, 1940. The label has been quoted in "Patriotic & Propaganda of the British Commonwealth" catalogue by Clive Edwards as 1/550.

The gift coupons were issued to raise public funds for aircrafts or raising a full squadron. The people of Bombay presidency donated so much that two full squadron were named after Bombay: No. 122 on May 1941 and No. 132 on Apr 1942. Besides naming 2 squadrons after Bombay, there were numerous contribution by Bombay War Gifts Fund to other squadrons.

You can read nice articles on gift coupons role in raising fund for RAF squadrons on following website: Indian War Gifts Fund and Westland Lysander.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Indian Independence League - Gandhi WW2 Propaganda Leaflet

Well, I missed some weekends posting items here. It was not that I was not available but I was more of tired and busy :-) I happen to travel to Shanghai last week. I also visited World Expo in Shanghai. I felt Shanghai is definitely one of the best modern city in the world with amazing infrastructure and public transportation. I also happen to get ride in World's fastest magnetic train called Maglev which travels at 431 Km/hr!!! It was thrilling ride and sight outside. I don't regret missing a weekend for that trip ;-)

Coming back to our usual stuff, I was planning to share a set of WWII propaganda labels today but again my laziness has come in between. Thus, I have decided to settle on an easy but rare item. I am sure that 99.99% you would not have seen this.

It is a WWII propaganda leaflet issued by Indian Independence League. Indian Independence League was founded in 1928 by Indian nationalists Rash Bihari Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru. It was located in various parts of South-East Asia and included Indian expatriates, and later, Indian nationalists in-exile under Japanese occupation following Japan's successful Malayan Campaign during the first part of the Second World War.

Established primarily to foster Indian Nationalism and to obtain Japanese support for the Indian Independence Movement, the League came to interact and command the first Indian National Army under Mohan Singh before it was dissolved. Later, after the arrival of Subhas Chandra Bose in South East Asia and the revival of the INA, the League came under his leadership, before giving way to Azad Hind. You can read more on Wikipedia or do Google.

It was Subhas Chandra Bose under whose leadership these organization (Indian Independence League, Indian National Army and Azad Hind) were reborn/revived. Since this was more of political arm of INA/Azad Hind thus they prepared lots of propaganda materials for use in war at all fronts of South East Asia where British Forces (having Indian soldiers) were fighting against Japanese Forces/INA (having Indian soldiers).

I have recently acquired one of the finest collection of Indian Independence League (INA/Azad Hind) war propaganda leaflets from a well known collector. Without naming him, I would like to thank him for offering his collection to me. Of course, it cost me a fortune but every time I see them I just get overwhelmed :-)

This is first of such leaflet I am showing. Most of them have only text but a few have pictures or drawings. The one shown below is unique in sense it uses Mahatma Gandhi to spread the message (propaganda).

The leaflet has drawing only on one side. It shows Indian soldiers on both side of fighting forces (Allies and Axis) ready to attack each other. Then, there is Mahatma Gandhi trying to stop Indian soldier on Allies side (see British Flag on left side) from attacking soldier on right side (see Indian National Movement flag there which was used by Indian National Congress and had become symbol of Indian Independence Movement).

It shows a message written in five different languages: Hindi, English, Urdu, Tamil and Bengali. The text reads (it is pictured as if it is Mahatma Gandhi's message):


At right hand side below Indian soldier, Indian Independence League In East Asia is written which had designed and spread this propaganda leaflet.

It was a delightful moment for me when I received a letter along with this leaflet which mentioned that the leaflet was picked up by none other than a serving British soldier in 1943 at Arakan, coast of Burma during war.

The above letter is from Norman V. Starling who was serving then at the coast of Burma when British and American (allies) forces were fighting against Japanese and INA. It mentions that Japanese had dropped this leaflet in 1943 there.

In philatelic world, anything mentioning Mahatma Gandhi is eye catching thus I hope my readers would feel the same here :-) Hope, you like it.

Please feel free to comments/share your thoughts on this leaflet.
Related Posts with Thumbnails