Indian Army Field Post Offices In INDO-CHINA 1954-1968

By Anurag Vajpeyi

\"\"Since Independence, the Indian Army has taken a leading part in the peace missions to KOREA, INDOCHINA, GAZA and the CONGO. A set of stamps was overprinted for the FPOs of Indian custodian Force and was released in KOREA on 17 October 1953. No First day cover was issued. The first overprint for the FPOs of the International Control Commissions was released with a first day cover on 1 Decemeber 1954. The second overprint became necessary when the \”India Map\” series of stamps were introduced on the change-over to decimal coinage. It was released on 1 April 1957. A similar overprint was authorized for FPOs which accompanied the Indian contingent to the UN peace mission in the CONGO in 1960.  The overprinted stamps and the First Day cover were issued on 15 January 1962 (Army Day). The famous Nehru stamp was overprinted and issued on another Army Day (15 January 1965) with a First Day Cover at the FPOs serving with the International Control Commissions in INDO-CHINA and the United Nations Emergency Force in GAZA.A new set of overprinted stamps for the remaining ICC FPOs at SAIGON and VEINTIANE was released on 2 October 1968 (Mahatma Gandhi\’s Birthday) along with a First Day Cover. The stamps were cancelled on the first day of issue with an obliterator of new design.    Wherever our field offices go, in India or overseas, they function as part of the India P and T system and use the Indian postage stamps. It is purely a matter of administrative convenience whether or not these stamps in a particular area or expedition and to discourage their purchase with cheap local money for eventual sale in INDIA. The modern overprints are intended to highlight the work and achievements of special Missions.

Though field post offices accompanied the India Army on its numerous expeditions and wars prior to Independence, postage stamps were overprinted only for the China Expeditionary Force (CEF) of 1900-1904 and the India Expeditionary Force (IEF) which took part in the First Word War.

\"\"International Control Commissions were established in CAMBODIA, LAOS and VIETNAM in August 1954 in pursuance of the Geneve Agreement for peace in INDO-CHINA. The Commissions were composed of members from CANADA and POLAND with Indian Chairman. Each of these countries contributed a contingent of servicemen to man the inspection teams. The Indian Contingent included a full-fledged postal unit to look after the postal needs of the three Commissions and their national contingents.

The International Commissions Postal Unit reached SAIGON on 3 September 1954 and established field post offices at HANOI, VIENTIANE, SAIGON and PNOM PENH. On completion of their tasks, the FPOs in PNOM PENH and VIENTIANE were closed down on 26 June 1958 and 25 July 1958 respectively. When the LAOS Commission was reactivated in 1961, its FPO was also reestablished in VIENTIANE on 22 May 1961. The FPO at HANOI was eventually closed down on 13 july 1966 as the inspection teams dependent on it had to be withdrawn due to the escalation of the war in VIETNAM.

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7 Responses to Indian Army Field Post Offices In INDO-CHINA 1954-1968

  1. prakash bubkiya says:

    Unique & collectable item ,

    thanks to sh anurag vajpai for this information ,

    i have good collection on indian forces ,

    • Abnash Singh says:

      Let me see your collection on Indian forces

    • J.L.Emmenegger says:

      Dear Sir,
      I do collect covers sent from the Indian Custodian Force military personel in Korea (Indian Army soldiers), cancelled with the FPO 739, 740 and 741 (NNRC) and sent to an Indian address.

      These covers are franked with overprinted India Stamps.

      There were also some Switzerland Observers who were in Korea and who did send covers from FPO 740 and 741.

      Do you have such covers for sale or exchange ?
      Or do you know where I can find such covers for my collection ?

      Thanks for your answer !
      Best philatelic regards

      J.L.Emmenegger
      Switzerland

  2. Abnash Singh says:

    I love collecting World War I & II covers, related stamps from world-wide….the Censor Covers, Military History, American War of Independence and the like in addition to my other themes ( Aerophilately being the major one ) and country collections.

    I have been collecting postage stamps and postal history items for the last 56 years.

    My collection includes : Classic stamps and Postal History items from
    – Great Britain ( 1840 till date ),
    – Australia ( including old Australian States ),
    – India ( 1854 till date ),
    – New Zealand ( Queen Victoria onwards ),
    – British Commonwealth countries,
    – the USA,
    – France ( classics till 1950 )
    – Switzerland till 1950
    – Belgium till 1950
    – Germany till 1950
    – Italy
    – Greece
    – Aerophilately
    – World War Covers
    – Censor Covers
    – Field Post Office Covers etc

    • J.L.Emmenegger says:

      Dear Sir,

      I do collect covers sent from the Indian Custodian Force military personel in Korea (Indian Army soldiers), cancelled with the FPO 739, 740 and 741 (NNRC) and sent to an Indian address.

      These covers are franked with overprinted India Stamps.

      There were also some Switzerland Observers who were in Korea and who did send covers from FPO 740 and 741.

      Do you know where I can find such covers for my collection ?

      Thanks for your answer !
      Best philatelic regards

      J.L.Emmenegger
      Switzerland

  3. Joy Daschaudhuri says:

    There are few discrepancies in the article.
    The C.E.F. functioned well beyond 1904,till 1923 though the main contingent returned to India in July 1901 following the suppression of I Ho Zhuan. Out of 20 FPOs established for the C.E.F.,5 FPOs were still operational even after 1904 viz., FPO 1 at Beijing,FPO 2 at Lutai,FPO 3 at Tongshan,FPO 4 at Tianjin and FPO 6 at Shankaiguan of which FPO 1 and FPO 6 alongwith the Base Post Office B worked till November 1,1923 when the C.E.F. was officially withdrawn. The Base Post Office B after 1904,functioned at Qinhuangdao (1904-1905),Tanggu (1905-March 1908) and then finally at Tianjin. Even after 1904,overprinted stamps for the C.E.F. were released on 15 different dates,the last being May 1922.
    For ONUC or Organisations des Nations Unies au Congo, India established 7 FPOs in Congo of which FPO 660 was the first which was set up at Kinshasa on October 10,1960 and it was also the last to operate till June 13,1964. Other FPOs were FPO 716 at Kinshasa,Kalemie and Lubumbashi,FPO 762 (Mobile FPO), FPO 770 at Kamina and Monono,FPO 771 at Kabalo,Nyanzu,Lubumbashi and Kolwezi,FPO 777 at Kinshasa and Kamina and FPO 893 at Likasi.
    For the Indian contingent to ICC in Kamboj,Lao and Viêt Nam,4 FPOs were set up i.e. FPO 743 at Hà Nôi,Viêt Nam on September 5,1954,FPO 744 at Viangchan,Lao on September 8,1954,FPO 742 at Sài Gòn,Viêt Nam on September 9,1954 and FPO 745 at Phnom Penh,Kamboj on September 10,1954.
    Lastly the reference credit for the article should have been given to An Approach to Post Office of India and Other Essays,Shivnath Dogra,The Army Postal Service Association,Ramakrishñapuram 2002;Section IV: Army Postal Service;Chapter XXIV: Korea to Congo;pp.134-5,142-3,146. I do not think there is more in-depth information on this particular subject of Indian FPOs of ICC published anywhere else.

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