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from France and the Mediterranean to Gabon and Cameroun – the Vicissitudes and Impact of World War II
Marty Bratzel

Diversions! Oh, those unexpected, annoying, serendipitous diversions! Here is one which proved most enlightening.

The primary focus of 'Les Oblitérations du Cameroun 1914-1960', published in 1990, was the postmarks of Cameroun under French administration. A considerable amount of additional information has been compiled since then, warranting preparation of a revised and expanded version that also addresses the postal history of the territory. One section will focus on Cameroun during World War II – postal censorship in the territory (with Maddocks’ landmark publication as the point of departure), Cameroun’s contributions to the armed forces and the military campaigns, and prisoners of war and internees held there.

The diversion began with the acquisition of a massive file about a young sailor who was aboard the Vichy Aviso Bougainville when it was severely damaged off Gabon then beached in November 1940. This ship caught my interest because of correspondence regarding two other sailors from that ship, both interned in Cameroun, one at Batschenga and another at Mokolo.

The extensive personal correspondence from a loving son to his mother traces his formative years, his joining the navy in 1938, and his service through mid-1940. This is followed by her correspondence with naval authorities, the Red Cross, and others after the fateful Gabon campaign in November 1940. Together, the correspondence provides interesting insight into naval postings immediately prior to and during World War II, allegiance to de Gaulle’s Free French movement, the challenges of communication during the war, and a mother’s frantic concern about the fate of her son and her desire to hold on to his memory.

This study is a blend of politics and postal, military, personal, and social history. Indeed, these cannot be separated. Let’s begin the story in the middle, with the Gabon campaign of October - November 1940 and with the Aviso Bougainville, then expand in both directions...

to read more of this fascinating article see pages 82 - 110 Journal 285)


IMAGES FOR THE SOCIETY'S SEPTEMBER AUCTION CATALOGUE are available for view on the Auctions page. The catalogue is available here.


AUCTION SECRETARY TO STEP DOWN. Steve Ellis has advised the committee that he wishes to step down as Steve EllisAuction Secretary in order to spend more time on other commitments. We are indebted to him for all he has done and he will be sorely missed but he has found an able successor in our auditor David Parmley. It has been arranged that David will take over from the beginning of 2020. ...Steve has organised 23 auctions in 8 years with 10,972 lots.


NORTHERN GROUP MEETING will be holding its next meeting on Saturday 21 September at Broom Methodist Church, 195 Broom Lane, Rotherham, S60 3NW from 10.30am to 4.30pm. The day will be devoted to members’ displays on any topic and lunch will be taken at the local pub.

THE WESSEX GROUP be holding its next meeting on Saturday 26 October at the Scout Hall, Lower Street, Harnham starting at 10.30am when the display will be ‘French Air Mails’. After lunch, the afternoon will be devoted to members’ displays.

THE LONDON GROUP  The next meeting will be on Saturday 5 October 11.00am to 4.00pm at the Calthorpe Arms, 252 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8JR when the display will be ‘West African Airmails’ in the morning and after lunch, members are invited to show their own material (any topic).

It would help if those planning to attend could let the appropriate convenor know - datails for whom are here.

VISITORS are most welcome at all meetings - please check with the appropriate convenor before hand to a) confirm time and address and, b) to introduce yourself.


Autumn STAMPEX 11-14 September
Business Design Centre, Islington, London N1