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RAF R4 censor cover of unknown origin

Started by Tommy Samuelsson, August 12, 2023, 03:30:22 PM

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Tommy Samuelsson

Recently an RAF R4 censor cover was shown on the facebook-page of the Military Postal History Society. The owner of the cover wanted to know more about it, above all from where is was sent. The only information I could provide was that the R4 No 50 censor is unlisted in the "Censorship in the RAF 1918-1956" handbook.  I suggested that I would show the cover on this forum to see if anybody here can tell us more about this cover. Where was the "On service" machine cancellation in use?

Michael Dobbs


Please see the topic heading "[b]ON SERVICE machine cancellation 1943[/b]" started by John Cranmer on 16 January 2023 (and last updated 8 March 2023).  His query was about the very same cancellation, but his is dated OCT 13 1943.  It is a Canadian cancellation. 


Tommy Samuelsson

Nick Colley

Ah, an interesting report, Tommy.

There's more to R4/50 than meets the eye, I think. Our good friend and colleague Ian Muchall reported it in January 2018 with a South African paquebot dated April 1941. This is interpreted as being from a troopship.Your recording (later in 1941, I think?) adds two more countries, Canada and Australia, to the story. This would presumably be from a later voyage, but why the censor R4/50 is STILL on board is difficult to account for.


Tommy Samuelsson

Thank you Nick for your additional information. As you may have guessed, I had forgotten that I had an R4 No 50 cover in my own collection that I also had reported to you. My cover with the South African Paquebot machine postmark is cancelled on 21/4 1941.

Ross Debenham

This is a very interesting subject. Can I make a further suggestion of where this cover may have originated As an example has been recorded with the South African Paquebot cancel and it is believed to be of Canadian sources and R4/20 has been observed used in Ceylon, may I suggest that this cover may have come from the Canadian Anti Submarine Squadron active in the northern area of the Indian Ocean, and posted from one of the more remote air bases, and handed to the supply boat or passing plane. This could be a reason for the scarcity of the censor marker. Most probably wrong but you never know.

Peter Harvey

Just trying to do the logic on this one and the fact that so many countries are thrown into the discussion confuses the basics for me.

It was posted in Canada (On Service datestamp) and held for censorship in Canada (security cachet - see attached examples) and went to Australia. So the question is how the cover came to be in Canada and receive the RAF Censor. If it was mailed in a convoy, why routed to Canada and not back through the UK like the majority of convoy covers, even with the Australia address this would have been normally unloaded at a port and then routed back through the UK.

This falls into the period of RAF reinforcements to West Africa and the date fits in with other records on the Gold Coast. At the same time the RAF and BOAC crew were flying the West African reinforcement route.

I am inclined to say the censor was used in the Gold Coast?