Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


Sahara an' ra Camels

Russell Walker


Well known "Caley" member and President of ASPS, Russell Walker entertained us with his display entitled "Sahara an' ra Camels" recently. With his main collection being Algeria (a Saharan country) he explained how he'd developed the display from there, with the title coming from the words of a Hamish Imlach folk song!

The Sahara, the "breadbasket" of the Roman Empire only 2000 years ago is a recent desert, but also a frontier land, with frontiers, of course, creating wars. Russell went on to show material charting the Sahara with material from Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, as well as Algeria, which included postcards showing rock paintings, Taureg tribesmen, an early crossing of the Sahara by a Scotsman, Angus Buchanan, and material from Algeria which showed how that country was a popular destination with the British (particularly during our "winter" months!).

Railways, for which Russell featured timetables and stamps, played their part in the history of the Sahara, with main lines running east to west, a north to south "Trans-Saharan" line being only partially built. Camels, of course, featured with material from the French (Army) Camel Corps including a WW1 telegram, a "Mulready" cover with a camel in the design and postcards featuring the famous camel "trains". Also featured was material relating to Camp Verde, the US Army Camel Corps, based in Texas, which existed during the 1860's.

Russell's second round dealt with military material, principally Algerian, which included the French Foreign Legion and their uniforms. Material relating to Algerians under French command and the Tunisian campaign of World War 1 featured along with US Army Air Force material, from Egypt, and the US 8th Army in Libya during World War 2. He also featured material relating to "Operation Torch", the invasion of North Africa, in which US and UK forces combined, and covers showing the "darker" side of war; POW covers and deceased mail. Finally, Russell featured airmails across the Sahara, with material showing the (principally) north to south routes developed after WW2 and a first flight/landing cover to central Sahara from 1920. Russell completed his display with a cover from a Scots member of the French Foreign Legion to his Scots girlfriend in Greenock.

A most interesting, and enjoyable, display was accorded a warm vote of thanks by Phil Longbottom.