Friday, June 20, 2008

Sea Eagles - Vietnamese 8th Marine Battalion

This cover, adorned with a picture of children with rain coats and bunny rabbits, was sent from the Vietnamese 8th Marines Battalion in Thu Duc at KBC 6618. The sender was apparently out on an operation as indicated by the "H/Q" (hanh quan) in the return address.

The addressee was aboard a Naval "Landing Craft Utility" class ship, with hull number 543. Mail was directed to this ship via KBC 3328, the Naval Fleet Headquarters in Saigon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Military Construction and Supply Correspondence

KBC 3126 was assigned to a construction unit (Kien Tao). The preceding letter 'D' in the return address probably stands for "Doi" (small group) or "Doan" (large group). The recipient was a member of Supply Group 61 (Lien Doan 61 Tiep Lieu) associated with the 6th Air Division at KBC 3533. A 1.50d stamp pays the military letter rate, although mail between KBCs should have been sent postage free.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

RVNAF Military Postal Service

I just obtained a copy of the Indochina Monograph series The RVNAF by Lt. General Dong Van Khuyen. Buried in the center of this 400 page document are three pages on the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces military postal service.

Some key items of interest:
By 1966 the Military Post Office Center (formerly the Directorate of Military Post Office) controlled 29 post annexes which served more than 1,500 KBC units and addresses. In 1973 there were 40 annexes servicing more than 3,000 KBC units.

The most frequent shortcoming in the military postal service was the time the mail took to reach the responsible person or beneficiary. An extensive investigation .... revealed that the delay did not take place between one KBC and another as many servicemen had thought, but primarily between the sending unit and the original KBC or annex, and between the destination KBC or annex and the receiving unit. The delay was also caused by the unit's internal distribution system.

There was also a lack of coordination between the unit and the area logistics command to have the KBC changed in case of [a] long-term operation outside the military region.

As for mail security, several measures were taken to prevent loss or interception. Mailmen, with proper security clearances, were chosen from good and reliable personnel. Each mailman was issued a register to record the receiving and delivery of mail, which was daily inspected by the chief of the mail and message section. Each mailman was also issued a leather case with lock for carrying mail in transit.

The book was reprinted by and is available from Dalley Book Service in Virginia. They have also reprinted a number of other military titles, including Bernard Fall's The Viet Minh Regime and Documents Relating to British Involvement in the Indo-china Conflict 1945-1965 originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Tell George I sent you!

Monday, June 16, 2008

3rd Infantry Division Cover

This cover was sent from a member of the Vietnamese Armed Forces 3d Infantry Division (3 Bo Binh) at KBC 6534. Nhac Doan is a group in charge of the military band and other entertainment.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mobilie Riverine Military Police

This cover is addressed to a Mobile Riverine Military Police Officer in Phong Dinh province in the 4th military zone. It was sent on 26 November 1970 from Trinh Chi Hieu, Class 5 Radio Operator, Company 4 Specialist Battalion at the Naval Training Center in Nha Trang or aboard a ship that reported to Naval headquarters (KBC 3318).

A 3d stamp pays the military postage rate (half the civilian rate). Had the recipient been considered military, the letter could have travelled postage free. MPs were considered military in the sense that they had their own KBC numbers, but no KBC was used in this case.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Services Suspended to Cambodia

Although the London postmark date is illegible, this cover was presumably sent after mid-April 1975 when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouges and the Cambodian infrastructure had ground to a halt. The cover is notable for its hand stamp marking "Services Suspended to Cambodia". What other countries applied this type of marking?

Phillippe Drillien writes that France used markings for mail bound to Cambodia. He believes this type of marking was used twice. First in 1970 when Sihanouk has been abdicated, and a second time, in 1975, after the fall of Phnom Penh.

Ferocious Tigers - Vietnamese 9th Marine Battalion

This rather unassuming cover is interesting because the address includes an explicit reference to the Vietnamese 9th Marines mascot, the Ferocious Tigers (Manh Ho), at KBC 6626. The sender was at KBC 3198, the 1st Air Division in Danang.

Friday, June 13, 2008

MSA Mission to Saigon

This cover has a return address from the Mutual Security Agency (MSA) mission to Saigon, which was formed in 1951 under Truman.

Averill Harriman was the Director of the MSA at this time and was focused on organizing covert operations and psychological warfare in Vietnam. In 1954 the MSA became the Foreign Operations Agency (FOA), then the International Cooperation Agency (ICA) and finally the Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1961.

The cover was sent from Saigon on 29 Jul 1952 to Portland, Oregon but was redirected to Parks Air Base in California, which had just re-opened in the previous year after sitting abandoned since 1946.

A Portland machine cancel on the front and hand stamp on reverse peg the cover's arrival as August 5th. Straight line date markings of August 14 and 15 probably mark its arrival at its destination. Somewhat ironic is the sender's notation on the reverse, "P.S. Rich this went as air mail - check delivery time."

Three copies of the first Vietnamese airmail stamp issued March 8, 1952 (Scott #C1) attractively grace the cover. At 9$90, the sender likely overpaid the rate, which was 8$50 to North America as of December 1953 (John Carroll).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

KBC 4076 Cover "K.V.K."

Can anyone help with the abbreviation "K.V.K." on this 1965 cover? It has a return address of KBC 4076 (actually sent via registered mail at KBC 3030) and was sent to a VA hospital in the United States. I am stumped...

Thanks! Andrew

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Indo-China Revenue Catalog 2nd Edition

The Society of Indo-china Philatelist's Indo-china Revenue Stamp Catalog Second Edition was awarded a vermeil medal at NAPEX in early June. The literature exhibit is the third largest in the United States with 40 entries.

The updated catalog, released at the show, provides comprehensive revenue stamp listings for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Indo-china. Sections are included for Indo-china revenue stamped paper and pecule overprints. Most items are priced and shown in full color.

The price is $20 post-paid in the US, $25 mailed to other countries. Order it from SICP Executive Secretary, Ron Bentley.