Christine Earle then gave her display “The Post Office Went to War.”

Christine gave a highly entertaining and informative display which illustrated the effects that going to war in 1939 had on the Post Office.

Losing nearly a third of its workforce itself presented problems, but these were compounded by the greater volumes of mail, especially from official and government sources, as well as providing new or greatly increased service volumes in other areas.

The Post Office was involved in the distribution of Identity Cards and Ration Books, in supporting National Savings and other wartime campaigns, in distributing leaflets of every kind to every home in the land.

Evacuation caused other problems as did the movement of members of the general population due to bombing and other enemy action. Services abroad were affected.

Much mail had to be censored, later “Examiner” was preferred, and there were over three-hundred reasons why a letter might be refused further transmission and returned to the sender. There were special arrangements for stamp dealers.

The Post Office itself had to make savings, the pale colours of the stamps issued in 1941 was one way of making the ink go further, the supply of ink from Germany for the some of the higher values stopped, leading to colour changes.

The use of slogans such as the well known “Dig for Victory” encouraged the Post Office to use “Grow More Food”, “Save Waste Paper” and “Kitchen Front” as part of its postmarks.

The quality of board used for Postal Stationery cards progressively deteriorated. Colourful Greetings Telegrams in gold envelopes eventually became monotone, and smaller in size.

All of these and other subjects were supported by an amazing array of covers and letters, postcards, original leaflets, documents, telegrams, badges and insignia, stamp magazines of the period, even a gas mask.

Many examples of reused envelopes and labels produced for this purpose were shown. Savings cards enabling children to save at a penny a week showed that everyone was involved in the war effort and that the post office was innovative in its approach. The Spitfire Fund was another example.

The Society meets in the Public Halls, Bromley Road, Beckenham, @ 7.30pm for New members and visitors are always welcome.

Contact David Rennie on 020 8778 7001 or Chris Sands on 020 8402 1263 for more details or visit our website