Monday, 11 June 2012

Field Post Office

The Field Post Office (FPO) used by British forces in Borneo were started during the Brunei Revolt in late 1962 and maintained due to the Indonesian confrontation between 1963 and 1966. There were quite a few FPOs based in the larger towns of Sabah and Sarawak which were gradually withdrawn towards the late 1960s. The ones in Brunei lasted until the early 1980s. It was not my intention to collect this complex area but recently obtained an item by chance.

I bought this postcard for less than £1 thinking it was an unused item. Anyway, it shows a nice view of Jesselton probably from the early 1960s looking from Signal Hill with Kampung Ayer in the distance. It has serrated edge on the left side indicating it was removed from a booklet of postcards.
Imagine my surprise when I looked at the back to find that it was used with a GB stamp. There was no date to the message. Interestingly, it is marked at the top with the word "Forces". Looking at the poor postmark carefully, I can make out the letter (FIEL)D followed by a P(OST) after a gap. It would correspond to a Cave type 3 FPO postmark. The date is also unclear. At the bottom, one can perhaps with a bit imagination make do with the number 1061. FPO 1061 was based in Simangang, Sarawak as well as Brunei where it was used by the 40 Commando squadron of the Royal Marines.
The message appears to be one from father to son. Neil was probably on a training exercise in Sabah. At the end of which he had some time for some R&R (rest and recreation) in Jesselton. The card was bought in Jesselton but posted back at the base.

Brititish Field Post Offices in Sabah:
BFPO 660 Labuan 1964-68
BFPO 663 Tawau  1964-66
BFPO 670 Jesselton 1965-67

Field Post Offices in Sabah:
FPO 154 Jesselton 1965
FPO 166 Labuan 1964-65
FPO 169 Tawau 1964
FPO 450 Tawau 1965-66
FPO 573 Labuan 1963-64
FPO 766 Labuan 1965-68
FPO 1030 Tawau 1964
FPO 1035 Kota Belud , Jesselton 1966
Besides the British, there were also various Australian Field Post Offices.

Ref: Sarawak Journal vol 49 p 93-95

Just another example which I picked up for £1 at a popular fair in London. Sadly, that was probably the last Philatex Fair in London. It has a very clear example of a post WW1 FPO in Milan, Italy. I really like the censor cachet, if only it were in red! It shows that one does not have to spend lots and lots of money for interesting items of postal history.

I know this is not Borneo but how can one resist this? A beautiful $2 dollar Straits stamp with a very clear pre WW2 FPO S.P.501 with a date which was a few months before the war. I wished this piece extends a bit further below to gives us a complete view of the interesting red naval censor cachet.

A FPO SP501 cover. This shows the naval censor cachet very well at the left lower corner. Unfortunately, it is not in red.

This cover has a very nice strike of a Cave type 1 cancellation of FPO 51 based at Brunei. There is an index c above the date. FPO 51 was one of the FPOs allocated to BFPO 605 in Brunei. It is also interesting that the sender's address also referred to the Royal Brunei Malay Regiment where the British troops were housed.

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