A long-time friend of mine from the Netherlands gave me the slightly tattered envelope shown in Figure 1 when I visited him last May. According to the address on the back, the envelope was mailed from Wageningen to Brunssum. It carries a 10 ct + 10 ct surcharge stamp that was issued on February 10, 1953 to aid the victims of the flooding that occurred in the south-western part of the Netherlands during the night of January 31 and February 1, 1953. Almost sixteen million of these stamps were sold!
The ‘AUTO-POSTKANTOOR 3’ cancel drew my attention. It has the date 18 February 1953 (17 hours), thus barely a week after the stamp was issued. Contemporary newspapers reported that two mobile post offices would start a nationwide tour to sell the flood assistance stamps on February 10 (see Figure 2). Two vehicles were used; the mobile office of the PTT, and a bus from the N.S. (Nationale Spoorwegen = National Railways) equipped as a post office. The list of towns to be visited and the dates the offices would be there show that the N.S. bus was scheduled to be in Wageningen on February 18.
The PTT bus was a replacement of the one lost during World War II, which was put into service on 18 June 1952. The PTT bus had three service booth, each with its own cancel, marked ‘AUTO-POSTKANTOOR 1’ and ‘2’ and ‘3’, respectively. The cancels were delivered 29 April 1952.
In 1945, the N.S. asked DAF (van Doorne’s Aanhangwagen Fabriek = Trailer Factory) to build trailers for people transport. These trailers were referred to as ‘emergency buses’ (nood bussen), and they were pulled by tractors built by Crossley (England). The blue print for these transport vehicles is shown in Figure 3.
One such assembly was made available to the PTT for use of a temporary mobile post office to promote the sale of the Children’s Welfare stamps in 1948 (see Figure 5). The cancels used showed a picture of the bus, with the period of use, see for example Figure 4.
The same bus was used from February 10 through March 10 for the sale of the flood disaster stamp. Service Order No H.121 concerning the flood disaster action and dated 11 Februari 1953, stipulated that the ‘AUTO-POSTKANTOOR 3’ cancel had to be used in the N.S.-bus and the other two cancels in the PTT bus. Also, the mobile offices were to be open between 9 am and 5 pm. This fully explains the cancel on the cover shown in Figure 1.