11 August 2020

During a stay in Sliema (Malta) I payed a visit to the local stamp shop, aptly named Sliema Stamp Shop. The owners were very polite in helping me when I asked for Dutch covers. My search turned into a real quest though! Initially they thought that had only some Dutch stamps. After some minutes one of the owners found a stock book entirely filled with European stamps other than Malta, Italy and the UK. Alas, there were no gems inside, as the Dutch stamps were mainly Juliana and Beatrix definitives.

So I turned to a large bookcase opposite of the counter which was stuffed with a range of boxes containing a mix of European covers. Apparently, the owners never sorted this material because I bumped upon some great Dutch covers. All post-war era, but interesting combinations and registered items nevertheless. It remains a mystery how these covers finished up on Malta though! One of the covers is a registered Dutch field post cover.

Dutch field post cover, registered NAPO 880, 1993

The cover dates from 1993 and was sent from field post office (veldpostkantoor) 880. After some research I found out the field post office was located in Seedorf (Germany) between Bremen and Hamburg. In the late 50s of the previous century the NATO embraced a new strategy which was called ‘forward defense’. This implied that NATO’s first line of defense was to be relocated from the rivers Rhine and IJssel to the Weser river in Germany a few hundred kilometers to the east.

NATO asked the Netherlands to relocate their forces to this new line of defense, but this move created a range of logistical problems as all the Dutch active divisions were stationed in the Netherlands at that time. The West-German and Dutch governments therefore reached an agreement to let the Dutch units stay in a German base in Seedorf where there were plenty of facilities. From 1963 until 2006 the 41st brigade of the Dutch army was stationed there.

Queen Beatrix visits the base in 1986. Copyright: ANP photo, Royal Images, Marcel Antonisse.

The ’41’ mark in both the senders’ address box as the almost illegible black/purple hand stamp point to the 41st brigade. The cover was processed in Utrecht, where all Dutch field post is still collected. The meter mark reads ƒ 8.50,- which comprises both the then valid domestic rate of ƒ 1.00 and the extra ƒ 7.50 required for registered mail. As in other countries, field post was (and is) only liable to inland, domestic rates. I am puzzled a bit why this cover was franked in Utrecht, instead of Seedorf. Similar covers from Seedorf used Beatrix definitive and were cancelled with a Napo 880 postmark.

I guess that the envelope was sent by the Ministry of Defense, so that the cover was essentially classified as official mail. This might explain the absence of stamps.

For the original publication see the Dutch Philately blog by Hugo Brieffies.

Hugo Brieffies

Hugo Brieffies

See http://dutchphilately.blogspot.com/ for more articles by Hugo Brieffies

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