The Chairman (pictured above with a 'bottle or champagne,' presented to her by the immediate past Chairman, Graham Mytton, after her display of course!) gave two displays, one on ‘Airgraphs’ dedicated to our late Trading Secretary, and the other on the ‘Centenary of the First Adhesive Postage Stamps’ dedicated to former member, Bill Larkin who died last year.
The chairman told us the story of Airgraphs in the first half by way of a PowerPoint presentation through some wonderful old Post Office photos. She also displayed the various forms and topical Airgraphs during the WW11.
The idea of Airgraphs was to get rid of ordinary mail, which was bulky and costly to move during the war. So, the GPO introduced the Airgraph Service for messages between servicemen and civilians. The message was written onto a special form that was then given an identification number and photographed onto microfilm.
The microfilm was flown to its destination, developed into a full size print, and posted to the recipient. Sending 1600 airgraphs on microfilm weighed just 5oz compared to 50lbs for the same number of letters. Copies of the microfilm were kept so that if they were shot down the messages could be resent.
The first Airgraph was sent from the Queen to the Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East.
The airgraph service from Britain to the Middle East began in 1941 and gradually extended to other war zones. The service ended on 31 July 1945. During these four years 135,224,250 Airgraphs were sent.
The second part of the Chairman’s display, again told through a PowerPoint presentation was the story of how we celebrated the ‘Centenary of the First Adhesive Postage Stamp.’ The first adhesive stamp, the ‘Penny Black’ appeared on 6 May 1840; a century later the Chairman showed us the various usages of the stamps issued to celebrate the occasion, and the various Post Office souvenir sheets from the three Centenary exhibitions, London, Bournemouth and Brighton. The Post Office also produced, what would have been the first minutiae sheet, but it was never used. Other countries also celebrated the Centenary, including our enemy at the time, Germany!