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The Malaya Study Group exists for collectors of the stamps, postal stationery and postal history of the states of Peninsular Malaysia which until 1963 formed the Federation of Malaya, including the Straits Settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singapore, the Federated Malay States, Negri Sembilan and Sungei Ujong, Pahang, Perak and Selangor and the Unfederated States, Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Trengganu. Many MSG members also collect & study all of modern Malaysia, Singapore, and the island of Borneo, comprising additionally  Sabah, Sarawak, Borneo, Labuan, and the states of Brunei & the peninsular state of Singapore. Study of the whole area so often adds to understanding and appreciation of the philately of Malaya. The Society has a JOURNAL, "The Malayan Philatelist" and a NEWSLETTER supplied free to members, EXCHANGE PACKETS, AUCTIONS and has produced a number of significant PUBLICATIONS on the stamps and postal history of the area.


WWI & WWII Censorship of the Mails

Members displays led by Mac McClaren on June 14th at the Buszy, Milton Keynes

Report by Dominic Morris, pictures by Susan McEwen


11 Members and two guests attended the second Milton Keynes display meeting of the MSG.



Some of the 11 attendees, at the start of the meeting.some of the 11 attendees, at the start of the meeting.

Firstly, thanks to Brenda McClaren for driving over to Aylesbury to collect and return the Aylesbury PS frames for the occasion; and to Mac for organising and leading what turned out to be a high calibre set of displays on the theme of WW1 and WW2 censorship of the mails. We had four Rounds.

Mac gave the lead display

Round one was from Mac himself, which focused on WW2 censorship. He opened with ‘British Naval Authorities’ censor marks. These were where the RN boarded neutral (mostly Dutch) vessels on the high seas and intercepted mail to Nazi Germany and Austria between September 1939 and May 1940, when Holland was invaded.

Mac and a frame of the display

His display included his famous ‘corners missing’ boxed censor cachets from the early weeks of the War when the number of censorship offices exceeded the number of censor hand-stamps. Mac has become the MSG’s expert on this interesting by-line in scarce censorship covers.

The Round was a mix of civil, military and fiscal censorship, with incoming, outgoing and transit mail.
Mac blew us away with an amazing range of incoming and transit mail. My favourite was a cover form Portuguese Timor to New York via Singapore (how many covers are there via Straits of any Portuguese Timor?); Thailand; Italy; Indo-china; China; Japan; Uganda (from the High Consul to the C-in-C of the NEI Naval Forces - I want this cover!!); Madagascar; Egypt; South Africa; Switzerland and the USA.
This is a great way to display interesting World stamps in a Malayan context. Acquiring these is not easy but a very rewarding pursuit.

Round Two was a medley from several members.
Andrew Norris opened with 30 sheets, including six WW1 items covering the ‘Passed by Censor’ on POW mail and the Eye mark (censor has his eye on you); a postcard of The Raffles Hotel with ‘Singapore’ excised just in case the enemy might guess where The Raffles was (the bureaucratic mind for you!); incoming/ transit from Kenya, Mozambique to Java and Brazil to NEI; a triple censored South Africa, Singapore and NEI Navy- just how secure did we need to be?; Jamaica to Bahrain; Japan to South Africa; US Philippines (and they are anti-colonialist? Iraq, W Bush anyone????); Switzerland. And a censor mark used as a cancel on stamps.
Len Stanway showed 23 covers, two from WW! And the rest from WW2 including clipper censors; RAF censor 93 and a triple censored item (Singapore, India England).
Gordon Peters showed some lovely WW1 material, including Singapore and Penang Internee Mail; a straight line censor mark; circular censor marks; Straits Settlements with a Crown printed label and Penang circular cancels No. 1, 9, 15 and 16; a perfect Soerabja (NEI) registered to Japan transit cover; USA to Singapore NEI to England with a blue label inscribed: ‘The British Examiner is not responsible for the mutilation of this letter’.
Joe Robertson displayed (what a surprise!) postage due WW! Censored. The two most interesting Your Correspondent observed was the Letter Censor Mark used in both WW1 and WW2; and the Circle through line mark (again ‘We have our eye on you’)
David Tett showed one item but it drew the greatest level of comment and thought: a 12c Chef’s Hat Kelantan cover from Mrs Rawlings to a Mrs Arathoon in Monte Carlo dated June 1940, marked Retour and DLO all within 15 days of postage (so far so simple: Kelantan to Singapore and sent back) so what was the 1218 Censor White Label doing on it? This stumped all of us.


Postcard where the censor removed the name of the hotel

Round Three was the second Round from Mac which included incoming, outgoing and ‘nearly outgoing’ from Palestine: a ‘returned to sender’ from the Haifa censor. Why? Plus a Japanese US Occupation mark to Singapore an unusual censor mark in the post-War era; and the lovely Fiji 3/- to Singapore cover; common to other destinations (if nice) but scarce to Singapore.
Gordon Peters put up a few queries. Some were simple (wrong rate applied); but he added a lovely ‘Jusqu’a’ double barred cancel of a Hong Kong via Singapore cover; together with an extremely rare ‘Premises Vacant’ mark and DLO .Why this mark? None knows.
Andrew Norris put up some ‘corners missing’ censor mark boxed cachets for Trengganu (hard to collect at best) but with two and three corners missing into 1939 and 1940. Gordon Bennett! Strewth! (i.e. I want these!)
Round Four was led by Susan McEwen who did Japanese Occupation and resealing tape. On her calculations (admittedly imperfect) 75% of JapOc mail was censored. The remainder was philatelic covers and mail to the Inland Revenue. Susan showed some lovely Trengganu (from the Yokohama Specie Bank, natch) and some very interesting forgeries. John Bull where are you when we need you?
Dominic Morris concluded the Round with a medley of Kelantan (Frith collection), Perak (including one corner clipped censor and a printed paper rate); Selangor, including many covers from Malcolm Wade’s collection; Straits, including a scarce and tied by censor 36 V label (1068 Nazi German planes shot down over Britain during Battle of Britain in past year); and Jap Occ, including single frame chops, a nice NEI ‘Singer Sewing machines’ piece; various ‘passed by censor/ passed for transmission’ in Kanji; one forgery (a bogus pre-War cancel, identified by Mac on an otherwise good First Anniversary cover of Penang Dai Nippon- why? It just reduces value of cover??)
Overall messages of the day? It doesn’t need that many members to create a buzz at the Buszy. It was a great day.
For new-ish Members: Don’t be afraid to display or ask at the Q&A. If Members as experienced as Gordon or David don’t know the answers, there is no reason why you should. Just put them up there at future displays and let’s see what happens.



A frame of censored covers


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