Field Post Office 443 ....The travels of a postal hammer.
Image Ref: Postmarks of the Australian Forces 1939-1953
1984 ISBN 090522249O
March 2, 1953
THE AUSTRALIAN STAMP MONTHLY
The Wheel Turns
IN early 1940 troopships left Australia, carrying the 18th Brigade and some special Units, bound for the Middle East. During the passage there were big happenings in Europe and a repercussion thereof was that these troops landed at Glasgow (Scotland) early in June.
The infantry proceeded to Salisbury Plain.
As they arrived without any Postal stores, they were allotted the next British Field Post Office (FPO) date-stamp for issue, which happened to be No. 443, and it was used on their correspondence, which seldom bore stamps. Surface mail to Australia was postage free and airmail was cut off by the tide of war.
At the end of the year, 18th Brigade sailed round the Cape of Good Hope to Egypt. Presumably they brought F.P.O. 443 along, as it was taken on to the strength of our Army Postal Service and did duty at Aust, F.P.O. 18, at Atlantic Hotel, Alexandria.
The earliest date I know is January 7, 1941, and it appears on the little red Egyptian "Army Seals," still bearing the
asterisk above the date, which it had in England. It continued at "Alex" until the end of April and then, after a very brief rest, it bobbed up against at Aust. F.P.O. 39 at Mersa Matruh— which had assumed importance owing to Rommel's drive. To celebrate its new residence, a letter "B" was substituted for the asterisk and, for the first few days, it appeared in violet pad ink. It is curious how often it happened that they forgot to send suitable ink with the date-stamp when a new F.P.O. was opened!
Just before it left "Alex," Australian stamps were authorised for use in Egypt, so platypii (as you were!—Platypusses) can be found decorated with 443. On August 1, 1941, 443 was relieved by another date-stamp and went on furlough.
In the next year 443 can be found with dates between February and June, but I wish somebody could prove to me where it was used. In October, 1942, it is shown in a list as being held as a spare. At the time that the last
Australian Army troops left in the Middle East (in early 1943), 443 was returned to G.H.Q., M.E.
A few weeks ago a friend showed me an envelope which proved, by the address on the back, to be from a member of 78 Wing R.A.A.F., now at Malta. It bore United Kingdom stamps and—oh, yes, you've guessed it—they were cancelled by 443, who is back again backing the Aussies!
By Harry S. Porter, F.R.P.S.L.