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Field Post Office 463 - 1943 & RAF (R10) 95 (West Africa)

Started by Peter Harvey, October 21, 2023, 09:06:46 AM

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Peter Harvey

I have the attached cover which was described as West Africa, but I have not confirmed that is the case.

Field Post Office 463 is recorded N/S this date by Proud, however allocated to the 52 Div to the October 1943, it does not appear to have been used after that until October 44, with the BLA.

RAF Censor R10 95 (the break in the 5 is small and I thought initially this was 6), is recorded by Nick Colley in the Gold Coast with US APO 806 at Accra.

Does anyone have any further records or information on this please?


Nick Colley

Hi, Pete,

It's type R11, so if the number is 95, then we have that recorded with FPO 46 (Lagos) August 1943-February 1945, and US APO 606 (Gold Coast) on 8/10/43. If it's no.96, then that was in use at RAF Shaibah at this time.

Now, Proud's assertion that FPO 463 was allocated to 52nd Division: the internet is annoyingly unhelpful, here: I'm unable get any deeper into 52 Div history than this for the time in question:

'From May 1942 until June 1944, the 52nd was trained in a mountain warfare capacity, originally for a proposed invasion of Norway. However, the division was never employed in this role. Following June 1944, the 52nd Division was reorganised and trained in airlanding operations.'

That's from the fount of all knowledge (??), Wikipedia, and other sources say the same (I wonder why?). I would have thought if the Division had seen oversees service, it would have merited an explicit mention. I wonder how reliable Proud's attribution is of FPO 463 to 52 Div?

Pensively yrs

Peter Harvey

Thanks Nick,

Sorry R11.... I also looked at Wiki and was not a great deal of help for the period. The more I look at the censor it is 95.... but that does not help with the location for the FPO, with a wealth of experience, it looks like a West Africa cover !


Michael Dobbs

Peter / Nick

The listing of FPO 463 by Proud comes from what I call a "semi-official" list I have, typed by someone unknown, when unknown - I haver a carbon copy on foolscap paper.  The information listed clearly comes from official records - FPO 463 is shown as follows:

10.7.40  3 Div
26.6.43  Trans to 52 Div
4.8.44  D.52

I have no recorded dates of use for this FPO.

I have attached an Order of Battle (ORBAT) for 52nd Division and also extracts from the Postal Unit War Diary.  As you will see, particularly from the latter, they have provided very little information.  Incidently the reference to FPOs 191 to 195 does not refer to datestamps but to the actual office designations.  Before the Breitish Army adopted designations such as D for Division and B for Brigade numbers it appears they simply designated Field Post Offices with a number.

It may not provide a full answer but may assist in some way.


Nick Colley

If I'm reading the Postal Unit War Diary correctly, it appears they were at Aberlour at the time in question.I can see from Google Maps that is about 50 kms north east of Aviemore (THE Aviemore - the one in Scotland....). Wouldn't you say, then, that there is still the problem of accounting for the use of an FPO in West Africa, when it was allegedly in the custody of (?) 52 Div in Scotland?


Michael Dobbs

Nick & Peter

[b]52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division[/b]

A recent visit to The National Archives has enabled me to have another look at 1943 War Diaries relating to the above Division as follows:

• WO166/10628 - HQ 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division - G Branch
• WO166/10636 - 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division Postal Unit RE

The October 1943 G Branch War Diary shows that the Division was involved in Exercise GOLIATH II from 10 to 31 October 1943:

• Part I run by the Division (10-20 October)
• Part II run by HQ Scottish Command (21-31 October)

Divisional HQ was at Aberlour during the period January to November 1943 but on 10 November the HQ moved to Broughty Ferry.  The Division Location Statement as at 23 November 1943 shows that Divisional HQ and those units associated with the Divisional title used the HOME FORCES address.  It also showed that the Postal Unit was located at 79 Brook Street, Broughty Ferry, Angus.

The Postal Unit War Diary as previously explained shows for each day from January to December 1943 (except for two entries given below) "Routine - Services normal".  The two entries were:

• 10 November 1943 - Unit location closes Aberlour, re-opens Broughty Ferry.  Otherwise same as before.

• 21 December 1943 - Orders received from War Office for this unit to mobilise under 79/MOB/5793/143 (AG5 MOB) dated 18 December 1943.  Unit to be complete to War Establishment, less 1st reinforcements in accordance with normal G1098 plus G1098/20 by 0001 hours 27 January 1944.  Otherwise same as before.

There was also a small typewritten note of apology dated 5 June 1943 sent by Lieutenant S.E. Lawrenson RE, Officer Commanding the Postal Unit to the Librarian and Archivist at The War Office regretting that the War Diary for April was not despatched in accordance with ACI (Army Council Instruction) 2044/41!

The datestamp recordings I referred to in my previous response show that the Divisional Postal Unit was issued with five datestamps on 26 June 1943 (this was the usual number allocated to a divisional postal unit) as follows:

FIELD POST OFFICE 227, 228, 230, 231, 463

They were all ex-3rd Infantry Division Postal Unit.

This does not answer the query raised by Peter but confirms the allocation of FPO 463 - unless this is the "second" 463 used elsewhere?? (We see after the war that GPO Proof Books usually show two datestamps per FPO number and I presume that was also the case for the WW2 FPO datestamps).

We need other recordings for FPO 463 - a query for the Journal perhaps?