Spectacular 1918 Canadian Forces in North Russia covers

Spectacular 1918 Canadian Forces in North Russia covers

Cherry Stone Auctions has a trio of Canadian Forces covers that should generate interest from military collectors, especially those specializing in WW1 pieces. These are rare items. The 3 covers were mailed by members of the Canadian Military Expedition North Russia during Canada’s short-lived fight with the Red Army.  These types of covers don’t see the light of day often and are listed at a decent price of $500 (US). After watching so many stamp auctions since the pandemic hit, I’m betting they go for substantially less.

Screen capture of 3 postal covers sent from Siberia to Canada

1918-19 three covers to Canada, “Field Post Office 201” On Active Service endorsement

The covers appear in their December 15-16, 2020 auction and are set to sell on the first day. Cherry Stone has a full pdf catalogue you can download or, if you haven’t stripped Flash out of your computer yet, use their flip catalogue. You can find both on their home page at https://www.cherrystoneauctions.com/ However, you really need to remove Flash before the new year. I posted an article about the security issues surrounding Flash in Oct. Read it here -> Uninstall Adobe Flash Now

UPDATE – price realized

Updated Dec 30, 2020

I just checked and this lot sold for $450, slightly under the catalogue value.

About the North Russia Expedition

These Canadian Forces covers would be an extraordinary addition to any collection. Covers like these are rarely offered. The three have historical and military significance that goes beyond the Canadian Forces aspect. The North Russia Expedition is a little-known chapter in Canadian history, often neglected because of the larger battles being fought across Europe.  Ostensibly, the joint international expedition was to ensure no German troops landed in the Murmansk region, but it quickly turned into a fight between the Red and White armies, with international troops supporting the Czarist White Army.

Here’s a brief geography lesson. Murmansk (where Arkangel is located) is above the arctic circle, bordering Finland, hence the concern Germany might cut up through the area. Murmansk was of strategic importance to both the Germans and the allies because of the open port and abundance of minerals. When German troops arrived in Finland, alarms went off throughout the allied forces about the possibility of Germany seizing the Port of Murmansk and the rails used to move vital supplies. Canada sent 4,192 troops from the Canadian Field Artillery (67th and 68th Batteries of the 16th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery). They arrived in the fall of 1918 and withdrew June 1919. If you have information you’d like to add (or correct what I’ve written) feel free to leave it in the comments field below. Always happy to have more information on these posts.

Three Canadian Forces Covers

Each cover has a military cancel and marked “On Active Service” (OAS). The top left was sent Dec 8,1919 and backstamped Jan 10, 1920. This came from one of 53 soldiers transferred to British command when Canadian troops left Russia for home in June 1919. No mention of the soldier’s name, but a little research into which of the 53 were from New Brunswick might bear fruit.

The second, top right, was sent Nov 1918 to Markham Ontario. Markham, at the time, was a small agricultural township, and a search of Canadian records for soldiers from the Siberian Expedition might lead to a possible identify.

The bottom right cover was sent March 1919. It has a cancel from a Royal Army Medical Corps Hospital Ship anchored off Archangel. The address is here in the heart of Toronto, at near Wellesley Streets and Sherbourne. I did a quick record check for the recipient and came up empty. A deep dive into Toronto churches would be required to find more information.

Despite their obvious faults, these 3 covers are still highly collectable.

A few resources to check out

If you’d like to learn more about the North Russian Expedition aka the Siberian Expedition, hop over to the University of Victoria, BC website on this chapter of Canadian history. It’s titled Canada’s Siberian Expedition.

This brief trailer is also worth a look. It packs a lot of info into a short clip.

If you’re interested in Canadian military related stamps and covers, check out this article I published last month.

Amazing German FDC – Tag der Briefmarke 2020

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Amazing German FDC – Tag der Briefmarke 2020

Amazing German FDC – Tag der Briefmarke 2020

I acquired an impressive German FDC recently, courtesy of a fellow collector in Germany. He posted a message on a stamp collecting forum about a special Deutsche Post commemorative cancel honouring the Canadian army. He kindly sent 3 covers/postcards that had the cancel. What I didn’t expect was the FDC displayed below. It has 3 elements that make it one of the more attractive FDCs I’ve seen in years.

German FDC honouring the Canadian Army – Deutsche Post

Photo of a German FDC showing 2 Canadian soldiers in front of the Leer, Rathaus in 1945

2 Canadian soldiers in front of the Rathaus (townhall) in Leer, Germany

Deutsche post issued the First Day Cover (FDC) with a special cancel commemorating both the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and Canada’s role in liberating Leer, Germany. The cancel displays both the Leer Rathaus and the Canadian army badge. It’s a touching design.

Canadian army badge showing crossed swords and three maple leafs

Emblem of the Canadian army

It took some detective work to find details about both the cancel and the photo used on the FDC. I started with a (very) rough translation from the German FDC.

Original German:
Tag der Briefmarke  202075 Jahre Ende des 2 Weltkriegs1945 befreien kanadische Truppen die
Stadt und den Landkreis Leer
Verein der Briefmarkenfreunde
Leer E.V.
Rough translation:
Stamp Day 202075 years end of World War II

In 1945, Canadian troops liberated the
City and the district of Leer
Association of Stamp Friends
Leer E.V.

Leer is in the Northwest of Germany, across the river from Groningen province, Netherlands. When Canadian troops swept across the northern parts of Europe, they crossed the bridge from Groningen to Leer and liberated the city.

The cancel was created for the annual German-Dutch exchange day. Apologies for the following bad translation from the original German.

The traditional German-Dutch Exchange Day 2020 will take place on 26 September in Hesel.

The hall, which philatelists know from the Northwest German Collectors Exchange, held in 2019, is large enough, with an area of around 600 square metres, to allow all visitors to maintain the necessary safety distance.

Exchange and day of the stamp.
The village community house in Jemgum, (Germany) on the other hand, measures only 300 square meters. Therefore, the event had to move from Jemgum to Hesel. On September 26, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Leer stamp society will not only be inviting you to the Big Exchange Day, but also to the release of a cover, which this year is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the city by Canadian troops.

An “Experience Stamps” team will be there with the new “75 years of AM Post” stamp as well. The association will have available the cover containing both an historic photo and the AM stamp.

Contact: Oswald Janssen, Am Helling 11, 26802 Moormerland, Tel. 04954 / 6346, Oswald.Janssen (at) t-online.de, www: briefmarkenfreunde-leer.de.
From: https://www.briefmarkenspiegel.de/2020/09/23/tipp-zum-wochenende-deutsch-niederlaendischer-tauschtag/

Closeup of the special cancel

Scan of the special Leer/Hesel stamp cancel honouring the liberation of Leer

Excellent cancel showing the badge of the Canadian army


AM – Allied Military stamp on the German FDC

There was a pleasant surprise on the FDC – the commemorative AM stamp. It has been released for the upcoming 75-year anniversary of the original AM (Allied Military) post war stamps. AM stamps were issued after the fall of the Nazis, under the US and Great Britain forces. These general issues were in use from Feb. 1946 to June of 1948.

Reproduction of Allied Military stamp issued in Germany 1946

Modern stamp showing Allied Military stamp issued in Germany 1946

The originals are an interesting grouping to collect. Aside from the basic set, avid collectors can hunt for varieties in colours, types of paper, cancels, perforations, and plate numbers. They are mostly inexpensive and easy to find.

The Allies had set up a temporary postal service in the occupied German Reich, which could also be used for civil mail from March 1945. The “AM-POST” stamps (“Allied Military”) were the first stamps of the Allies on German soil at that time. They initially came from the USA (MiNr.: 1-9), later they were printed in England (MiNr.: 10-15) and Germany (MiNr.: 16-35). – Duetsche Post website

The “75 years of AM-POST-Brands” stamp came out Sept. 3, 2020, just prior to the release on Sept. 26, 2020 of the German FDC with the Canadian soldiers’ photo.

Canadian soldiers stand in the Leer city harbour

Photo of 2 Canadian soldiers standing near riverside in Leer, Germany, with Rathaus in background

Two Canadian soldiers stand in the city’s harbour after the conquest. Images: Dieter Simon, The End of the War 1945 in Leer, Verlag Schuster 1995

It was difficult to find any reference to the photo used in this German FDC. I found only one in an online newspaper from Germany. Beyond this one link, I couldn’t find anything else. I searched Canadian archives too, but nothing popped up.

This is a good find for any Canadian militaria collector as well as stamp fans, both German and Canadian.