I do not have much in way of Tenom postal history as these are very uncommon pre 1940s but these ones here are worth showing. It was a small quiet place in the hills servicing the agricultural enterprises in the area. And besides, nearby Beaufort was the administrative centre for this area of the Interior Residency in the south west of North Borneo near to Labuan and Brunei. Easy accessibility is still a problem to this day.
This is a tatty cover with a missing 10c stamp but it is an important item of postal history from North Borneo. It was sent from the Tenom internment camp over the WWl period. Prior to the first World War, there were significant numbers of Germans working in North Borneo and in British Asian territories in general. The most well known German national in North Borneo was probably Paul Brietag who managed the Batu Puteh Estate near Sandakan. And also the personnel on the various German Norddeutsche Lloyd Bremen steamers which were a life line to Singapore and Sooloo.
During WWl, these German nationals and their allies were interned at Tenom. They were probably treated very well as the war divided people who were very good friends. The hospitality of the Germans particularly on the ships was said to be legendary. Unfortunately, information on this aspect of our history is particularly lacking and very little was mentioned in the British North Borneo Herald. As usual, it was the bearer of good news and anything unseemly was simply brushed aside.
This uncommon cover was addressed to the Private Committee for International Correspondence at Lausanne in Switzerland and sent from Internment Camp, Tenom, B N Borneo. The sender's name is not eligible. It was post dated 17 May 1916 with Tenom D2, transited at Jesselton on 18 May 1916 with D7. It passed through Singapore on 30 May 1916, then censored at Bombay before going to Switzerland. It has a faint Tenom registration cachet, R2 which is uncommon with a recorded use span of 25.4.16-29.5.16 (Proud). It was also censored at Tenom by A N M Garry who was the acting assistant district officer at Tenom. Garry was a great railway enthusiast. There were only 4-5 of these covers known.
Airmail covers are popular and commands a premium especially those which were carried by the Dutch airline, KLM. Proud mentioned that airmail rates were introduced in North Borneo by 1932 and I have an Imperial airmail cover sent in March 1931. These covers have to go to Singapore first by sea. Mail by Imperial Airways went by train to Penang, then by ship and train to Karachi for the air service in stages to Croydon near London. The time taken from Penang was about 18 days and from Sandakan, an additional 7 days.
The KLM was much faster as all stages from Alor Star was by air. It was estimated initially to take about 23 or 24 days from Sandakan to reach London and a day or two faster from Jesselton. But it was actually much faster as the service became established. The 9,000 mile journey between Batavia in the Dutch Indies and Amsterdam took on average 12 days and with favourable conditions, as quick as 10 days. So for urgent letters it was preferable to use the KLM service even though it was more expensive. The above cover has the right rate of 60c whereas the rate was 25c for airmail carried by Imperial Airways.
This cover was sent on 7 JUL 1936 from Tenom and received a back stamp at Jesselton on the same day. This is the only Dutch airmail cover from Tenom that I know of. Come to think of it, I can not recall an Imperial Airways cover from Tenom either.
This very beautiful Sanbride postcard showing Tenom was actually sent from Sandakan and not Tenom unfortunately. It shows an idyllic scene of the police station and jail. The postcard received a Sandakan T mark as it was underpaid by 2c for the prevailing imperial rate of 4c. This Sanbride postcard is rare.
Tenom in the 1950s.
This is a 1948 FDC with the 8c from the Royal Silver Wedding issue. It has the uncommon Tenom T mark UP4 for underpaid mail. The imperial rate was changed from 8c to 10c on 1 April 1948.