Today in Postal History

Burma to England

May 25, 1892

This censored cover was sent from Thayetmyo.
Thayetmyo is about 300 km north northwest of Rangoon on the Irrawaddy River.

The sender was involved in the Pacification of  the Chins.
The Chins were among the tribes that lived on the west coast of Burma northwest of Thayetmyo.*

The sender was L/C G. H. Housman, 4th Batt., King's Royal Rifles.
The cover was addressed to his mother in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.
Bromsgrove is about 20 km southwest of Birmingham toward Worcester.
The cover was censored by another officer, a Lieutenant Colonel
in the King's Royal Rifles Commanding 4th Battalion.
The preparatory work was done by the sender and the
reviewing officer had only to read the letter and sign off on it.

The cover is franked with an 1883 1 anna brown purple Queen Victoria of India (SG 88).
Mail from Burma was routed through India.
The 1 anna rate was a concessionary rate for soldiers in the field.

The seller included these interesting notes excerpted from the letter:

Letter headed "THAYETMYO" "May 24".
With family details and conditions in Burma, casting a sacred bell with sketch -- "we have wasted a large quantity of ammunitions today in favour of H. M. The Queen.  The R.A. firing 31 guns.' -- "The remainder of Regt. left at Chin Lushai are on their way back, many without shoes to their feet -- on one occasion when we left them they marched 104 miles in 10 days cutting their own road.  I don't think people in England realise what these little expeditions mean -- a medal will probably be given for Chin-Lushai 92-93, if there is an expedition next year, so I suppose we shall get it about 94. -- We bring back with us the famous Manipur Bell which gave the signal for the massacre.  It was brought back from the expedition last year and is used to strike the time for the station."  and with other interesting items of news.

A soldier's life in the field has never been pleasant.

*Thanks to Richard Warren who caught a couple of typos and  provided this information:
"The Chins are a proud people. The Chin Hills were the only bit of Burma not to fall under Japanese occupation [in World War II], and a handful of post offices there still sent mail with various India and Burma stamps, including Burma overprinted "OHMS" by handstamp or typewriter.  Noted in Gibbons."


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