Dutch New Guinea Forces in Korean War

Military Mail

A member from the Netherlands philatelic group, the ZWP Study Circle, Han Dijkstra, helped me and Ivo Spanjersberg write an article about the postal history of New Guinea and detailed information about the postal issues of the United Nations “UNTEA” forces during the turnover of West New Guinea to Indonesia in the early 1960’s.

Han knows of my interest in New Guinea and Korea and was kind enough to give us this information about the Korean War.

Fig. 1: front of cover

He sent several scans of a rare example of military mail between Korea and Netherlands New Guinea:

In the attachments you will find scans of the Korean War 1951 cover to Dutch New Guinea, as previously promised. After my reporting it in ZWP nr. 154, Willem Put, League of Nations and United Nations specialist, now in Hongkong, sent a reaction, which was published in ZWP 157, June 2010.

He had a similar cover, to Biak, also franked 25c and also with the special flight handstamp on the reverse, which indeed also occurs on non-philatelic mail happening to be transported by the newly introduced air connection between Amsterdam and Sydney. Here very briefly his comments:

  1. All together 73 troops from Dutch New Guinea have fought in the Korean War.
  2. Some (incomplete?) specifications from the Ministry of Defense show that 1 military left DNG on 8 May 1951, to arrive in Korea on 28 May; next a group of 50 leaving DNG on 15 August 1951 and arriving 23 August 1951. Then 12 leaving Korea on 6 July 1952 and arriving in DNG on 12 July 1952.

Obviously, rare covers, but maybe more are known within the Korea Study Circle.

Fig. 2: reverse of cover

In his note to me, Han is referring to the Korea Stamp Society as the “Korea Study Circle”. If any reader knows more about the participation of the Netherlands New Guinea forces in Korea, please let us know.

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3 thoughts on “Dutch New Guinea Forces in Korean War

  1. Here is some information on the operation of Military Post Office APO 8, manned by U.S. Army Quartermaster Corp., the rate, and how this mail was handled and travelled from Korea to Biak, Dutch New Guinea.

    First, APO 8, and was stationed and located in Korea as follows:
    Seoul, Korea 13 – SEP – 1950 TO 22 – JAN – 1951
    Andong 23 – JAN – 1951 TO 5 – FEB – 1951
    Chunju 6 – FEB – 1951 TO 29 – MAR – 1951
    Wonju 30 – MAR – 1951 TO 22 – JUN – 1951
    Hongchon 23 – JUN – 1951 TO 4 – OCT – 1951
    Pupyong-ni 5 – OCT – 1951 TO 14 – NOV – 1951
    Yachon-ni. 15 – NOV – 1951 TO 11 – NOV – 1954
    Ceased Operations: 12 – NOVEMBER. 1954
    Reference: Geographic Locations of U.S. APOs 1941-1978, War Cover Club, James Chaffer (c)1979

    The cover, postmarked November 15, 1951, demonstrates a combination usage covering the 25¢ single-weight, half-ounce (½ oz.) Asia Airmail Letter Rate to Dutch New Guinea by the U.S. Military Post Office and U.S. Post Office in 1951. The 25¢ (1/2 oz.) Asia Airmail Letter Rate was in effect from November 1, 1946, thru June 30, 1971.

    The U.S. Military Post Office System, is one of three mail systems operated by the U.S. Government [3 services: U.S.Postal Service, Military Post Office (MPO), Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)] and not a member-nation of the Universal Postal Union (U.P.U.), so the mail had to be handled by a U.P.U. — the solution: the U.S. Postal Service.

    The Military Post Office in Korea would send the cover to a Base Post Office (BPO) handling the mail in Korea which was Japan, or the 7th BPO. The 7th BPO forwarded the cover to a west coast MPO-hub in the United States (San Diego, San Francisco, or Seattle) for x-ray (for contraband), sortation and re-entry into the U.S. Postal System, as the U.P.U. carrier of the mail to the Dutch West Indies. The mail was transferred from the MPO system to the USPS system, without transit postmarking, and be delivered to KLM Airlines for it’s Air Mail flight to Dutch New Guinea. Upon receipt, the cover received an international mail, roman letter, bi-sected, comb, double-circle, receiving cancel — both at SORONG and its final destination, BIAK.

  2. Some slight adjustments to the location of APO 8 based on my research into US Army Command Reports:
    The commencement date in Seoul of 13 September is impossible, as UN forces did not effectively recapture the city until 28 September.
    12 November 1950. Yachon-ri
    1 December 1950 Sunson-Songchon
    2 December 1950 Seoul
    4 December 1950 Yongdungpo
    Subsequent dates are as given by Hal.

    The Dutch National Archives has a very small amount of information on Dutch soldiers’ mail to New Guinea, Indonesia and Surinam. This primarily deals with the extension of ‘free postage’ to soldiers with homes in those places, and its subsequent withdrawal. Free postage (unlike the term as applied to US troops’ mail) meant that the senders of mail did not have to pay the postage personally. Instead, the battalion’s administrator would apply the postage and record the costs in his monthly disbursement reports.
    There is much more information on the establishment of the Amsterdam-Biak airmail route. However, as this is not specifically related to Korea, I would be happy to send copies of what I have on the subject to whoever is interested.

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