Saturday, May 14, 2011

Indian Red Cross & St. John War Organization WW2 Pamphlet

Today's post is going to be a very interesting one :-) It's one of my philatelic adventure in recent times bearing fruit of all that patience over years. I will definitely show you the materials I got as reward as part of this post. So, let's start!

It was a Friday 7th May evening time and I was strolling with my colleagues outside our office on the way to nearby eatery for some snacks when I received a call from one of my known philatelic dealer inviting me to come to Numismatic Exhibition happening in Bangalore. I first tried to politely ignore by saying yes I would definitely try to come but I was busy even on weekends since my parents were leaving for my native place so it would be difficult. But, he kept on saying that they were documents available with some dealer for my eyes only ;-) Since this was first time I heard someone had something for my taste in Exhibition, so I dutifully marked it.

Still, I wasn't sure whether I would be able to make it at least on last day (Sunday) of Exhibition. I was very busy whole Saturday as my parents were leaving and feeling some fever etc but never revealed to my parents. Next came the Sunday, I went for doctor checkup as I suspected something was wrong with my body. It definitely was. Anyway, after checkup was done, I decided to have a look of exhibition even though I could feel fever and weakness.

I reached where Google Earth showed me was supposed to be Exhibition. But, I couldn't locate the venue. Went ahead couple of kilometers more and finally, someone told me it was way back. I did a full circle and some how located the place. It was right before the Bangalore City Railway Station while Google showed it after station.

Anyway, I reached the venue. First impression about exhibition was it was huge, well attended by both dealers and collectors. There were lots of stalls on coins and some on philatelic materials.

Since I was suffering from fever and not keeping up my health so I wanted to quickly locate that dealer's booth who had something for me. I started making a quick round trying to have glimpse of every both amid crowd. I had almost done with round and was feeling disappointed not to find anything when I saw the dealer's booth who had given me call the other day. Before I could reach him my eyes suddenly caught some recognizable pattern ;-) on booth before his.

To my goodness, I found "Indian States Information" equivalent to "Indian Information" magazine issued by British Indian Government on Princely States. The editions were from 1942 and 1943. I just couldn't control my happiness finding editions covering WW2. I decided to buy all the damn editions at any cost.

I stopped at that booth itself and asked the booth owner price of each. I was told XYZ/- per edition but she said her husband could tell me correct price and he had stepped out. My heart sunk for a moment hearing the price as I knew I had bought such materials from US in XY/- each. I waited.. waited and waited. She advised me to complete the round and return but I didn't want to leave them there ;-) fearing someone may also find. Even though, I knew only a few people waste money like me on these literature.

Finally the elderly person came. He asked me which one I wanted to buy. I said I would take all of them. He was surprised, he asked me to have a look once. I said I just wanted all of them. He was impressed and the price automatically came down to YY/- per edition and I finally settled them at XY/- each.

In between another gentleman came. He was known to him and perhaps a big collector from Delhi. He started paying more attention to him and asked me to wait for a while so he would try to find more war related materials for me. The gentleman was numismatic and he saw couple of files covering money tenders, cheques issued during British Raj by Princely States. The dealer had all sort of documents on his booth.

As part of that, he showed him one file which was supposed to cover Red Cross. When dealer was offering red cross file to gentleman then my eyes again caught some pattern in it ;-) The gentleman had many files piled up making him slow down checking every file. I sensed an opportunity and decided to glance the Red Cross file in between. I picked it up and turned over some of pages only to find some other fascinating materials of end of war. I saw what I wanted but dutifully kept it since it was offered to gentleman earlier.

The gentleman in between found something he was looking for. He selected that file and told dealer he will be back in 1 hr. That file was for him. That's it. I sighed a big relief. I then quickly picked up red cross file and asked dealer if I could selectively purchase some items from that file. He declined saying the file would be of no use if I took out materials from it.

So, I finally decided to buy complete file. The price would have been same even if I would have bought the 5 items I wanted from file. So, I took the deal since it came with hell lot of other documents. I know you would like to know what were those 5 items. Well, it was Indian Red Cross + St. John War Organization created leaflets/pamphlets in Urdu, Hindi and English. A kind of pamphlet telling war service Indian Red Cross had done in WW2 and they still needed Indian people's generous help etc.

It may not be sounding as exciting as I mention it here but frankly speaking I have never seen such Indian Red Cross pamphlets of WW2 :-)

I felt this was the best exhibition I ever had during 11 years of stay in Bangalore. Then, I finally moved to next booth and duly acknowledged the dealer who had given me call to come to exhibition. It was just because of him that I could get hands on such materials. He also told me I should have asked him once before settling the amount, he would have helped reducing it. I thanked him for the offer and said I was so happy that I could forget some money I could have saved otherwise.

A good relationship built over decade with a dealer came real handy :-)

Now coming to the main item of this post. I will be showing 3 pamphlets issued by Indian Red Cross and St. John (St. John's Ambulance) War Organization in Urdu, Hindi and English. All three of them carry same design and content.

The front side shows a wounded soldier lying on hospital bed reading some newspaper with a slogan behind it "The thanks of a GRATEFUL PUBLIC". We can also see Red Cross and St. John War Organization symbols at bottom left side.

The reverse side then had different paragraphs highlighting main objective of Indian Red Cross & St. John War Organization and work they had done and doing during this war (WW2). The leaflet reads:


Although peace has been brought to a suffering world, the work of the Indian Red Cross and St. John for the sick and wounded soldier cannot end with the war. Those who have fought to bring us victory still deserve our help, a help which it is our privilege and duty to provide.

What this help is, and how it has been provided by a private humanitarian body is explained in this brief leaflet.

The Indian Red Cross & St. John War Organization is a private humanitarian body devoted to the service of the sick and wounded and of Indian prisoners of war. Its work stretches half across the world from Japan to Occupied China, Malaya, India, Iraq, Iran, the Middle East. Wherever the Indian soldier is to be found, there lies the work of the Indian Red Cross & St. John.


The Indian Red Cross and St. John supplies over 500 items to hospitals for the sick and wounded . These supplies include clothing, tobacco, sweets, soap, toothbrushes, games, gramophones and gramophone records; even pictures for the walls of the recreation rooms in hospitals. Everything that can be envisaged to keep the sick and wounded men comfortable is made available.

There are over 750 Workparties in India making clothes, manufacturing special bandages and other hospitals stores. These items pour into the great Central Depots of the Indian Red Cross & St. John in hundreds of thousands.


Before the victory in Europe, every Indian prisoner of war was send a weekly food parcel through the Indian Comforts Fund in London, paid for by the Indian Red Cross and St. John, and altogether it dispatched 1,672,579 parcels to these men. Such parcels were sent in addition to clothing, games, medical supplies and other amenities. This great humanitarian body even created facilities to help Indian prisoners of war to enter for examination to prepare them for peacetime occupations.


The Indian Red Cross & St. John War Organization operates a postal and cable message service enabling persons in India (not being prisoners of war or internees.) to write to their loved ones in enemy occupied territories. During 1944, over 16,000 cable messages and postal messages were received and dispatched as a part of this anxiety relieving service.


Although the Japanese Government did not fully co-operate with the Indian Red Cross or any other Red Cross Society on the Allied side, the Indian Red Cross & St. John has been able to send bulk supplies of food and clothing in hundreds of tons to Indian prisoners of war in the Far East, by repatriation ships whenever the Japanese Government allow them to sail. Prisoners of war are now being released for Prisoners of War camps in the Far East, are provided by Red Cross with gift bags, containing toilet articles, sweets, cigarettes and other items of their comfort.


The Indian Red Cross Welfare Service employs the services of over 400 ladies of all denominations in various hospitals for the care of the sick and wounded. This work entails Diversional Therapy, a work based scientifically on the knowledge that convalescence can be considerably helped by taking mens' minds off their infirmities. It also involves library supervision, (books are provided in tens of thousands for hospitals by the Red Cross) writing letters to relatives of the wounded, tracing missing soldiers and handling inquiries from relatives regarding them, and may other activities which cannot be enumerated in detail in so short a review as this.


The scope of this private humanitarian body will thus be seen to be immense, and funds to carry on this work in hospitals must be found on a scale commensurate with it. Only by remaining a private organization supported by voluntary subscriptions can the Indian Red Cross & St. John retain its capacity for working internationally. An official body attempting the same task would be severely handicapped. Give this great cause your help. Please send your donations to your local Provincial or State War Fund, clearly ear-marked "Indian Red Cross".

Give Generously to our SICK & WOUNDED SOLDIERS

Let me know if you have seen such pamphlets or any other varieties of these kind.
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