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Westlake Camp - World War II

I found this one by pure chance.  I was looking at Westlake Camp in U.S.A. which was a Japanese internment camp, I was put on the right track by Christopher Stephany-weddell of the Facebook postal history site.  He remembered seeing the name connected to Cape Town.  Does anyone have further information on the camp and on the British censor's cachet.  Was this cachet applied in Cape Town or in transit bearing in mind that it appears to be self censored.  The cancellation is also similar to the War Train's cancellers, are they connected? 

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This is a nice post to which I can contribute a few covers but none with your PBC cancellation.

Westlake lies against the Constatiaberg Mountains close to the bottom of Ou Kaapse Weg  between Silvermine and Pollsmoor. I recall Westlake as a golf course, presumably now it is a suburb while Pollsmoor is famous for its prison that held Nelson Mandela, as well as Dave Rabkin, Jeremey Cronin and the least committed of all, me.  It is ironic that Westlake shares the name of a WW2 Japanese internment camp given Pollsmoor's association with Madiba. 

Your Westlake single circle canceller is a skeleton relief datestamp. These were temporary rubber cancellers brought in when the existing datestamp was lost or became knackered beyond usefulness. The collecting of skeleton relief stamps is popular among some postmark collectors. Some are highly sought after, like the War Train skeleton relief that you refer to and the Verneuk Pan canceller that was used in the temporary PO when Malcolm Campbell attempted to break the World Land Speed Record. (See the display on Campbell in the Display section). The War Train canceller is not connected to Westlake nor is Campbell's Verneuk Pan canceller. They were simply used to fill a short-term but immediate need for a datestamp, hence the use of a cheap rubber one. The Westlake skeleton relief, while uncommon, is not scarce. One was for sale recently in Kenny Napier's SA auction, I think.

The cover with the BTA (British Troops Africa) has been sent from Westlake by 1850137 AC2 Morris JPM, RAF. 

The three line violet cachet SA NAVAL FORCES, PO POLLSMOOR CAMP, PO WESTLAKE suggests two camps, one Naval, the other RAF. I will leave this to you to decide which was which.

The final cover is not relevant other than it is addressed to 3 AA (Anti-Aircraft) Regiment, Pollsmoor, Retreat. Posted in Maseru, Basutoland, its reverse shows the route it took to get there. Do not assume that this was a black Basuto regiment. At this time and for a long time after Europeans living in Basutoland were subject to National Service in the Union Defence Force. Gunner Jones, a good Welsh and British name, suggests he was European volunter. The Native Labour Corp was based in the mountains above Simonstown. This is a rich postal history theme also.

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Looking at your cover again. I would say the censor mark was applied in transit.

I take it this cover went by surface mail. Do you know which route?

I will look at all the information on these censor marks and see if I can find anything out.

Here is one of a lot I picked up in an auction many moons ago. The sender of the Air Letter was in transit between the Air Station at Driftlands near Port Elizabeth and Number 41 Training School at Collondale, near East London. I think there is no doubt that Westlake was a transit camp.  Besides being hit with the British Troops in Africa circular cachet, it has been hit with the previously rare R56 censor marker, of which I have a few others, no doubt was applied at Westlake. I think the sender was a dentist that worked in the two RAF stations.

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I've written about this before so forgive me if you've seen this already. Some 20 years or so ago (yes, many moons) I picked up two photo albums detailing an RAF Pilot Officer Dentist's time in SA during WW2. He was sent there to provide dental treatment to RAF servicemen participating in the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme. It appears he was based in Queenstown but his album shows fascinating photos from all over SA. He would fly around SA by Anson aircraft which he called his "taxis" to the various RAF Training Stations of which there were many in SA. The dentist's name was Roy Baker and he lived in the Brighton area after WW2. I attach a photo of him standing third right at the back of the group photo. The menu for the reunion at the Prospect of Whitby pub, (one I infrequently visit on trips to London is the site of Captain Kidd's slow execution), is worth a skwizz for those who recall tickeys and harpic. Cheers!

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Wonderful material!  Closing time on the menu reminded me of the Englishman in South Africa who couldn't understand why all of the dogs were called 'Voetsak!'

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