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The Nyasaland Rhodesian Field Forces in German East Africa 1916-1918

The Nyasaland Rhodesian Field Forces, under the command of Brigadier General Edward Northey, began their offensive in East Africa on 20 May 1916. Northey’s forces crossed into German East Africa on 25 May 1916. On May 30 they had occupied Neu Langenburg. On June 6 they captured Neu Utengulc. Alt Langenburg was occupied on June 13. Ubena was captured on June 30. The colony's military commander, General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, spent the war harrying 40,000 Allied forces with his band of 3,500 Europeans and 12,000 native Askaris. He surrendered only after receiving news of the armistice on 25 November 1918.

The
Nyasaland Rhodesian Field Forces troops could send normal letters without stamps via the field post office. If there was any additional postage required, such as for registration or for parcels, it required prepayment. At first unoverprinted Nyasaland stamps were used. Later at the request of Brigadier General Northey, to the Governor of Nyasaland, Nyasaland stamps were overprinted “N.F.” Northey had requested the overprint to be “N.F.F.” but the telegraph operator omitted one “F.” when sending the request to the Governor. Northey always denied that the issue was philatelically inspired; correspondence written by Northey clearly shows that he was an enthusiastic stamp collector. There is no evidence that these stamps were really needed. The overprinting was sanctioned by the Governor of Nyasaland and most of the stamps did see genuine postal usage.

These stamps were only available for use by troops of the Nyasaland Rhodesian Field Force. Sale of these stamps in large quantities, for dealing purposes, was forbidden. The stamps were available only from Field Post Offices of the
Nyasaland Rhodesian Field Force. Most of these offices were in German East Africa. The Nyasaland Rhodesian Field Force also had FPOs in Nyasaland and in Portuguese East Africa. The stamps were not available at any civilian post office or for civilian use.

Nyasaland Rhodesian Field ForceThe totals quantities overprinted, by the Government Printers in Zomba, based on a statement made by Northey, were as follows

½d – 60,000
1d – 120,000
3d – 12,000
4d – 6,000
1s – 6,000

The only major variety is the double overprint on the 3d stamp. All available evidence suggests that only a bottom row of six stamps on one pane was overprinted in this way. To date only four certificates have been issued by The Royal Philatelic Society for this double overprint in used condition. Two of the stamps show FPO 8, on the others only the FPO part remains on the stamp. Three are postmarked 3 March 1918 and one on 2 March 1918. The copy, which is in the Royal Collection, is postmarked 3 March 1918 from FPO 8, which at the time was in Mbamba Bay.

The earliest known usage of the ½d and the 1d is 7 August 1916. The 3d on 15 September 1916. The 4d on 13 September 1916. The 1s on 18 September 1916. When supplies of these overprint stamps were exhausted the field post offices used unoverprinted stamps of Nyasaland.

During the temporary stay in Mtangula, Mozambique, by one of the columns of the field force, stamps of Portuguese Nyassa (1911 Republica series) were used by the Field Post Office (FPO 2).

LIST OF FIELD POST OFFICES, LOCATIONS AND DATES
Base PO
Karonga, Nyasaland
04.09.14
24.12.15
FPO 1
Neu Langenburg, GEA
04.06.16
26.12.16

Old Njombe, GEA
16.12.16
17.12.16

Songea, GEA
01.07.17


Limbe, Nyasaland
02.08.18
31.12.18
FPO 2
Rungwe, GEA
20.09.16
01.12.16

Wiedhafen, GEA
28.02.17
09.03.17

Likuya, GEA
19.05.17
23.11.17

Mtangula, Mozambique
01.01.18
28.08.18
FPO 3
Mwaya, GEA
01.06.16
01.10.16

??, GEA
23.10.16
30.11.16

Tandala, GEA
30.11.16
??.??.18
FPO 4
Mwaya, GEA
01.09.16
30.11.16

Old Langenburg, GEA
01.12.16
11.03.17

Wiedhafen, GEA
12.03.17
??.03.18
FPO 5
Lupembe, GEA
01.12.16
01.02.17

Songea, GEA
01.03.17
01.07.17

Mpurukasese, GEA
01.07.17
01.12.17

Fort Johnston, GEA
01.12.17
01.05.18

Nameras, GEA
25.05.18
??.10.18
FPO 6
Mwaya, GEA
12.03.17
10.06.17

Limbe, Nyasaland
10.09.17
??.02.18

Malokotera, Mozambique ??.03.18
23.05.18
FPO 7
Old Langenburg, GEA
03.03.17
??.07.18

Reone, Mozambique
20.08.18

FPO 8
Fort Johnston, Nyasaland
11.04.17
01.12.17

Mbamba Bay, GEA
01.12.17
08.08.18
FPO 9
Zomba, Nyasaland
05.04.17
05.02.19
FPO 10
Neu Langenburg, GEA
30.07.17
31.03.18
FPO 11
Songea, GEA
06.08.18
13.10.18


BOOKS FOR COLLECTOR OF NYASA - RHODESIAN FIELD FORCES STAMPS AND POSTAL HISTORY

History of the East African Army Postal Service
by Stuart Rossiter, edited by Edward B Proud, 1982
Chapters 1 and 2, about the Nyasaland - Rhodesia Field Force 1914 - 1919, were written by Kenneth Pennycuick FRPSL, RDP.

The Nyasaland-Rhodesia Field Force, 1914-18
by Alan R Drysdall and Kenneth Pennycuick, published by A R Drysdall, 1986, 140pp


ARTICLES IN GIBBONS STAMP MONTHLY

March 1950 issue of GSM pp 80-82
NYASA - RHODESIAN FIELD FORCES 1915-1918 STAMPS AND CANCELLATIONS by W G Nodder
Historical backround of the Field Forces, details of the stamps issued, the postmarks used, details of locations of the field post offices as known at the time.
This article is based on the authors collection and he also gives the following two references.
(1) The South African Philatelist, Vol 10, No 10, page 146.
(2) The Encyclopaedia of British Empire Stamps, by Robson Lowe, Vol 2, pages 141, 208 and 209.

August 1991 issue of GSM pp 29-31
THE NYASALAND STAMPS OVERPRINTED 'N.F.' by Alan Drysdall
Historical background, details of stamps overprinted, sheet numbers, basic stamps, sheet format, varieties, proofs and specimens, dates of issue.
The author gives the following references for his article
(1) Gibbons Stamp Monthly, March 1950, pp 80-82. Nyasa - Rhodesian Field Forces 1915, stamps and cancellations by W G Nodder
(2) Stanley Gibbons Monthly Circular, March 1920, pp 18-19. Nyasaland Stamps Overprinted "N.F."; letter from Sir Edward Northey
(3) The South African Philatelist, 1944, Vol 20, No 10, pp 116-117. Postal Markings of the Nyasaland Field Force 1916-1918 by J L Oates
(4) The Postage Stamp, 1916, Vol 19, No 3, pp 34-35
(5) London Philatelist, 1987, Vol 87, pp 52-56. 'N.F.': the 1916 overprint on stamps of Nyasaland by Kenneth Pennycuick


Note  - I have acquired an almost complete run of Gibbons Stamp Monthly from January 1950 to May 2009. I will be working my way through these magazines and indexing them and adding notes in the same manner as above as I get to the articles.

REFERENCE SOURCES
This page is based on the following (full details above) -
Nyasa - Rhodesian Field Forces, Gibbons Stamp Monthly, March 1950
The Nyasaland Stamps Overprinted NF, Gibbons Stamp Monthly, August 1991
Nyasaland - Rodesian Field Force, History of the East African Army Service, 1982

© Jan Kosniowski 2010


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