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WW2 Southern African Pioneers in the British Pioneer Corps

During the war the 'Springbok Shuttle' air route from Zwartkop Air Base to Cairo and then to Rome was well developed especially for returning South African servicemen. My guess is that it arrived in Cairo on a SAA flight and was censored there. But why was it censored in 1948?


Brilliant! Cover.

In reply to Jim's question, "why was it censored in 1948?", my guess is that perhaps, long-shot, it relates to the developing conflict in Palestine. Cyprus and Egypt were central to the unfolding events in Palestine which in 1948 was still run by the British military. On 15 May 1948, Britain gave up her mandate. The British Army departed from Palestine leaving the Jews and the Arabs to fight it out. The cover is dated September 1948.... so maybe not. It was just a guess. However, as the cover was going to Cyprus, how about the Greek Civil War that ended in 1949?

Think that two of the main questions have been answered. We know the reason why the letter went to Cairo. In September 1948, the Arab - Israeli war, that broke out on May 14, 1948, was still ongoing. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon? invaded the British Mandated territory when the British withdraw on May 14 and the Israeli declared independence. The conflict continued until the 1949 Armistice, but still is ongoing today as we just have seen. 

The letter is addressed to something called 'Co. Operation Department, Nicosia.' Could that be associated with the British Army on Cyprus (still there?)? and thus part of the enemy as far as Egypt was concerned. Or maybe just part of a general lockdown of the whole area.

Thanks to Jim and Steve for their help. 


PS. I have deciphered the text in the lower left back using a magnifier.  It reads "Censored in Egypt / 1st Arab/Israeli war" The cover came from the collection of John Inglefield-Watson who during WW2 served in the British Army in northern Africa and thus may had some insight into the development in the area. It was written with his typical hand. 


The Egyptian censor marks on the cover (Civilian), were normal at the time. See page 796, Egypt Stamps and Postal History, P. Smith. 

The letter was addressed to a Government Department to a Zenon Alevras (Greek name). Why his name was underlined by the censor is not clear, but maybe it was a name on censor watch lists? Many Greeks lived in Egypt (some from historical times) during this period and most of them migrated to South Africa, when they were expelled by Nasser some years later. 

Cyprus in 1948 was under British rule. After independence (1960) Britain retained two Sovereign Bases (military) in perpetuity.  After World War II, many Jewish refugees were put into Camps in Cyprus, before a decision was taken to resettle them in Palestine. 

I am not too sure how the cover traveled  from Egypt to Cyprus at the time (possibly BOAC, flying boat?) The Egypt Study Circle has many experts and possibly can provide a better explanation.