Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"France & French Colonies"


Mr. Jim Moffat


The Lanarkshire Philatelic Society had a wonderful evening on Friday, 10th September, when guest, Jim Moffat, of the Glasgow and Caledonian Philatelic Societies, gave a truly fascinating display of the postal problems faced by France during the Second World War.

In 1940, the German Occupation began and, after the signing of an Armistice with Hitler by Marshal Petain, the north and south of France became two separate areas – the north being German ‘Occupied’.  Postage between the two areas gradually deteriorated into non-existence except for military postage. From September ‘family cards’ – open to censorship – were permitted – but no stamps were allowed.  Gradually stamps  - German stamps – were allowed – but the cards were still open to scrutiny.

‘Stamp Day 1942’ was marked with a bit of vengeance!  Some 50 towns throughout France marked the day with a special handstamp of each of their towns – used on German commemorative issues - and this was also the first time an illustrated handstamp had been used.

By June 1943 the Demarcation line had been abolished but, although normal postage was gradually restored, cards were still used and sealed letters were opened and resealed with German CENSOR tape.

In 1944 the Free French used special messengers for their own correspondence using official envelopes and Free French vignettes.

The special ‘Liberation’ issues – 1944-1945 – were also displayed.


After tea, Jim continued with another most interesting display  - this time of ‘French Colonies’.   

In 1886  France had 4 French Colonial possessions in Africa – Tchad, Gabon, Congo, Oubangui-chari. In 1910 the 4 countries collectively became French Equatorial Africa. They each continued to issue their own stamps but, through the years, used different titles – eg – Congo Francais Gabon; Afrique Equatorial Gabon; Oubangui-chari-Tchad- etc -until, in 1936 stamps of Middle Congo, Gabon and Oubangui-chari were overprinted ‘Afrique Equatorial Francais’. Tchad used stamps of Middle Congo and these remained valid for use throughout the lifetime of ‘French Equatorial Africa’.

In 1940-41 some Free French issues appeared – with the overprint ‘Afrique Francaise’ & in 1959 all 4 countries became republics and all were fully independent in 1960.


Ed Archer led members in giving the Vote of Thanks for the most historically informative and interesting displays.


Our next meeting in St Andrews Parish Church Hall, Avon Street, Hamilton,  is on Friday, 1st October, 2010 at 7:30pm when ‘gentlemen’ members will display on this ‘Gentlemen’s Evening, A-L’.  

Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc is very welcome to attend.