Christmas Wishes from Egypt (1934)

Quite an unusual envelope this week… Sent in 1934 from a member of the armed forces based in Egypt, there’s an unusual addition to the envelope. Forwarded from Reading to Brighton to what we can only assume was its final destination in Ealing, the letter bears a quaint reference to the season of good will. We might more often associate whimsical stickers like this to modern post but it clearly has a much longer pedigree. Marked ‘Sealed until Dec XXV’, it must have proved a mighty test of the recipient’s self discipline, arriving as it did in the first week of October!

Below are some of the series of stamps and Christmas seals for letters sent from pre-war Egypt which would have been available in the NAAFI during the mid-late1930`s. 

WWII Memorial Scroll

This week we take a closer look at the Memorial Scrolls sent out to the families of those who died in war.

As per the example last week, this official record of gratitude was sent out during the Great War and as the Second World War began it was proposed (by the Merchant Marine) that this should be continued. The idea was quickly approved but the scrolls were not issued until 1946. It was estimated that it would have taken scribes two years to hand write the names of the nearly 400,000 soldiers killed in combat so again these were printed.

Items like this are commonly sold from £10 and upwards but care must be taken as there is an entirely legitimate trade in modern reprints by companies selling them to families who have lost the original.

Lest We Forget

Even though the ceremony proper is the following day, this Saturday the Market will pay its respects by having a two minutes of its own at 11am. We will be striking a bronze bell to mark the time. This was locally crafted from war debris and presented to a civilian, Mr N R Ground. He was one of the RAF medical personnel which transported prisoners of war from Burma and India.

Fittingly, today we’re focussing on some of the items which marked the passing of British soldiers. And the first of these is a condolence slip signed by Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for War.

Next, a memorial scroll sent to the next of kin in both wars.

And a bronze memorial plaque grouping. Factors which decide their value include not just the action, rank and unit, but more recently the extent of any corroborative documentation or photographs. It’s worth bearing in mind that these are all unique and you would double the price for a casualty group – as you would officers’ medals. Complete medal groups with supporting documentation can increase the price by a factor of ten.

The rust resistant Iron Cross

Rounding off our short series on Germany’s most iconic military decoration is this fine brass example. These were particularly popular among naval officers who liked its resistance to rust, preserving the decoration’s appearance.

What distinguishes this piece is its practical blade-like fitting on the reverse, intended for easy wear and removal. This is a departure from the conventional pin and hook found on most Iron Cross First Class decorations.

Also noteworthy is the screw-back design, featuring a circular securing disc — a variation that was quite popular among private purchasers. Owing to their appeal among collectors and their considerable value, these types have become the most frequently replicated.

Included with this item is the original LDO-marked box. The LDO, or “Leistungsgemeinschaft der Deutschen Ordenshersteller” (Approved Community of German Medal Manufacturers), was established on 1 March 1941 to ensure the quality and prestige of military awards and decorations were upheld through controlled and licensed manufacturing. During this period, a numbering system was in place, with some makers adding an “L” prefix to their marks.

To purchase such an item, one would need to provide a certificate proving the award had been conferred, adding to the historical value of this distinctive Iron Cross.