Wednesday, 29 June 2011

North Borneo 1943 Japanese Occupation stamps. "Meiji" issue





1943 set of  4c & 8c. I like the colour and design. Though not rare, it took me a few years to get hold of a fresh looking pair. They were printed by the dutch company, Kolff & Co. at Batavia, the colonial name for Jakarta. It was the only definitive issue for British Borneo made by the japanese specifically  to commemorate Emperor Hirohito's birthday. They were first issued on the 29th April 1943 and remained in use until the end of the occupation. The 4c and 8c were respectively the postcard and letter rates.
An event of note in 1943 was the October uprising in Jesselton by local Chinese and Suluks which resulted in the deaths of 40 japanese soldiers. The japanese retaliated by destorying dozens of suluk villages. They rounded up and tortured thousands of civilians and executed 200 of them without trial. Several dozens of suluk women and children were hanged from the pillar of a mosque with their hands tied behind their back and then cut down by machine gun fire.
With regard to the envelopes, both with Kuching postmarks,  I have some doubts as to their authenticity but they look good. All known FDCs of this issue are from Kuching only. SG listed these stamps under North Borneo but they were produced for the whole of  Northern Borneo and probably came into use initially in Kuching, Sarawak.
The stamps of Brunei, Sarawak and North Borneo were overprinted for use during the japanese occupation. The 3 countries were administered together collectively as "Kita Borneo". Kuching was its capital. The overprinted stamps from the 3 countries were valid for the whole region. One tends to see a mix of stamps used on envelope. It was said that all spare Brunei stamps were overprinted during this time. They were none left after the war for use during the period of British Military Administration (BMA). Brunei then had to make use of the North Borneo and Sarawak stamps overprinted with BMA. BMA stamps used in Brunei with its various date stamps are quite collectable.

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