Indochina, Postage Free Military and Official Mail of Indochina; The first French military post office in Cochinchina was opened February 25th, 1861 in Saigon. The first military post office in Cambodia was established in 1865. (Desrousseaux SICP Journal, February 1972, Volume 2 Nr. 1). Military letters for the general ranks as well as official mail was transported postage free. This was not the case for military officers on account of their higher renumeration. They had to pay their own postage. Generally a unit cachet had to be applied to free letters on the envelope in order to prevent fraud but some letters or post cards do not carry them.

Early map that shows North Vietnam including the areas bordering China depicting the various towns and villages that later would become French military posts.

Military letter of a police officer that was engaged in the Tonkin Delta in Quang-Yen. Circular “Quang-Yen-Tonkin” cancel from January of 1888 and mute military circular “Corps.Expere, Annam” cancel  on front. Besancon arrival cancel on the reverse. The letter took about 40 days to be delivered. Ex Schwirtz.

Military letter sent by a soldier located in Hue to France in January of 1888.  The letter is cancelled with the standard Hue circular cancel. “Corps Exp.Tonkin, Ligne N4” military (Type 1.954/4 according to “La Poste Maritime Francaise Historique et Catalogue” from Raymond Salles” It was used between 1885-1904), Saigon transit and French arrival cancels on the reverse. Red military cachet on front and reverse.

Saigon was the initial entry point for the French military so the facilities there were more sophisticated than what one would find in the rural areas. Here is a postcard that shows the military barracks of the infantry in Saigon.

Military letter sent by a soldier located in Hue to France in February of 1888.  The letter is cancelled with the standard Hue circular cancel. Red “Corps Exp.Tonkin, Ligne N4” military cancel in front. “Type 1.954/4 according to “La Poste Maritime Francaise Historique et Catalogue” from Raymond Salles the red color warrants a 100% surcharge over the black cancel. Saigon transit and various French arrival cancels on the reverse. Military cachet on front and reverse.

Naval military letter sent from Ha Giang to a civilian in France in August of 1888. Cancelled with the circular Ha Giang date canceller along with the “mute” Tonkins Corps Expedit cancel. Blue circular naval cachet on front. “Marseille a Lyon Special transit cancel and Saint Deux arrival cancel on the reverse.

Military letter sent from Tonkin to France in April of 1890. The letter was cancelled with the octagonal “Corr.D.Armees Hai-Phong military cancel (Desrousseaux Type a2). Faint circular blue military cachet on front and reverse. Parsi arrival cancel on the reverse.

Military letter sent by a solder from Tourane (Da Nang) to France in October of 1890. Interesting red “Corps.Exp.Tonkin, Ligne N.2” (the Type 1.954/2 red cancel warrants a 100% surcharge according to “La Poste Maritime Francaise Historique et Catalogue” from Raymond Salles), Tourane departure and mute circular black “Corps Exp, Annan-Tonkin” on front. Large violet military cachet, Saigon transit and French arrival cancels on the reverse. The letter took almost a month to arrive. The French company operated a total of ten different ships. Ex Schwirtz.

Military letter sent by a solder from Hanoi to France in April of 1893. Hanoi departure and mute circular black “Tonkin-Corps Expedit. as well as circular “Corps Exp.Tonkin, Ligne N.3” cancel on front (Type 1.921/3 accord to “La Poste Maritime Francaise Historique et Catalogue” from Raymond Salles”. Large blue military cachet, Hai Phong transit and French military arrival cancels on the reverse. Ex Schwirtz.

Here is a post card that depicts the Hanoi military barracks, substantial masonry structures.

Rare military letter front sent from Phu-Lang Phuong to France in September of 1893. The Phuong-Lang post office was established on January 1st, 1885 and the military post office was operational until 1904. Mute circular “Tonkin-Corps.Expedit”. Illegible oval troop cachet. Ex Schwirtz.

Military letter (business card still inside) sent by the Commandant D’ Armes in Tien Yen in December of 1893 to a fellow military officer in France. The letter was left open analogue to a printed matter mailing. Tien Yen date canceler and “mute” military Tonkin Corps Expedit. cancel as well as blue military cachet on front. French arrival cancel on the revere.

Naval military letter sent from Hai Phong to France in November of 1894. Cancelled by the circular mute military “Corps Expedre.Tonkin” cancel and circular naval cachet on front. Ex Schwirtz.

Military letter originating from the War Council in Hanoi (see circular blue military cachet on front and reverse) to the Direct of a library sent in December of 1894. Cancelled with the circular Hanoi and the “mute” Tonkin Corps Expedit” date cancellers.

Military letter sent by the army commander in Lao-Kai to France in July of 1895. Mute military “Corps Expeditionaire” and blue military cachet on front. Hanoi transfer and Paris arrival cancel on the reverse.

Military letter sent from Phu Lang Phuong in March of 1896 to France. Cancelled with the circular “Phu Lang Phuong” and mute “Tonkin Corps Expedit” military cancel (Desrousseaux Type Nr. 36). Black circular military cachet on front. French arrival cancel on the reverse.

Military condolence letter announcing the death of a soldier to his family sent from Dong Da to France in August of 1897. Cancelled with the circular Dong Da date canceller and the “mute “Corps Exp. Tonkin military cancel (Desrousseux Nr. 53). Blue bi-lingual Dong-Da military cachet on front. Lang Son transit and Paris arrival cancel on the reverse.

Military letters sent by a soldier located in a military hospital in Yen-Bai and sent to France in November of 1898. Yen-Bai circular cancel, mute military “Corps Expeditionaire” and blue military cachet on front. Hanoi transit and Lille arrival cancels on the reverse.

Military letter sent from Tien-Yen to France in May of 1899. The letter was cancelled with the circular Tien-Yen date canceller along with the rare circular military cancel “Corps Exp Annam-Tonkin” cancel (Desrousseaux Nr. 41). Blue circular “Commandant Tien Yen Tonkin military cachet on front. French arrival cancel on the reverse.

 

Naval military letter sent from Saigon to France in October of 1900. Cancelled by the circular “Saigon-Cochinchine-Corps Exp” cancel and circular naval cachet on front. Plouescat arrival cancel on the reverse. Ex Schwirtz.

Military letter sent from Tuyen Duang in Tonkin to a pharmacist in France in December of 1900. Cancelled with the circular “Tuyen Duang” and “mute” “Coprs Exped Tonkin (DEsrousseaux Nr. 52) military date cancellers. Manuscript “Corps Occupation du Tonkin” along with the signature of the commanding officer instead of a military cachet. Transported by paquebot “Ligne T, Nr. 4” as indicated by the circular ship cancel on front. Ligne T conducted only a single voyage to Tonkin and Annam (https://marcophiliedaniel.blogspot.com/2015/01/djibouti-paquebot-les-lignes-de-locean.html) as it was usually travelling from Suez to Australia. The Ligne T cancel on Mail coming from Indochina is correspondingly rare. Hanoi transit and Bordeaux arrival cancel on the reverse.

Military letter sent from Pho Binh Gia in Tonkin to the wife of a Lieutenant in France. The letter is cancelled with the circular “Pho Bing Gia” and “mute” “Corps Exeditionaire” (Desrousseaux Nr. 75) dat cancellers. Than Moi and Hanoi transit cancels as well as French arrival cancel on the reverse.

Rare postal notification to a customer informing him that a telegram had arrived. Mailed from the Cholon Bin Htay in January of 1901. Ex Schwirtz.

Military letter sent from a member of the military in Lang Son in September 1901 to a civilian in France. Cancelled with the circular Lang Son and mute “Corps Expedit Tonkin” military cancel (Desrousseaux Nr. 47) date cancellers. Hai Phong transit on the reverse. French arrival cancel on front. Bi-lingual blue military cachet “Commandant d’Armes Lang Son in front.

Military letter sent by a member of a French Infantry Battalion occupying China and sent from China to France in November of 1901. Cancelled with the circular “Tresor et Postes aux Armees 5 Chine 5” military cancel. Red large military cachet on front. Aurat arrival cancel on the reverse. Ex Schwirtz.

Military letter sent by a member of a French Infantry Battalion occupying China and sent from Shanghai to France in March of 1902. Circular “Cor.d.Armees-Shang-Hai” and circular “Exp.Tonking” military cancels. Violet large military cachet on front. Illegible arrival cancel on the reverse. Ex Schwirtz.

Military letter sent from Dong-Dang to France in April of 1902. Cancelled with the circular Dong-Dang and the “mute” “Corps Expedit Tonkin” date cancellers. Transported by Paquebot “T” as indicated by the circular ship cancel. Ligne T conducted only a single voyage to Tonkin and Annam (https://marcophiliedaniel.blogspot.com/2015/01/djibouti-paquebot-les-lignes-de-locean.html) as it was usually travelling from Suez to Australia. The Ligne T cancel on Mail coming from Indochina is correspondingly rare.Faint circular “Commandant d’Armes Dong Dang” military cachet. Lang Son transit and Lyon arrival cancel on the reverse. Postcard sent through the military mail system sent from Dong-Da to a civilian in France. The card was cancelled with the circular Dong-Da date canceler from January 1903. Blue bi-lingual Dong-Da along with a rectangular red military cachet in ancient Chinese. Circular military cachet “Commandant D’Armes” along with a red signature on front. Illegible boxed blue cachet on front.

Rare domestic military letter sent from Nacham to the Lieutenant of Grave Art Works in Hanoi in March of 1903. The letter is cancelled with the circular Nacham date canceller. Circular military cachet and signature of the commanding officer in front. Lang Son transit and Hanoi arrival cancel on the reverse.

Post card sent by a member of the military from Nacham to a civilian in France. The letter was franked with a 5C Allegory of Peace stamp that was not necessary as military mail to France was delivered free of charge for common soldiers. The card mistakenly received a triangular “T” hand stamp that indicates that postage was due upon delivery of the card as the correct postage at the time amounted to 10C. But the mistake was recognized at some point during the cards transportation and the “T” was stricken out. Cancelled with the circular Nacham date canceller. Transit cancels from Langson and Saigon on the reverse. Circular blue Na-Cham military cachet and signature of the commanding officer on the reverse.

Saigon was the main administrative center for the Southern parts of Indochina where the harbor played an important economic role. This led to other nations, such as Germany, to establish consulates. Here is a cut-out from a large envelope that was dispatched by the “Royal German Consulate” in Saigon via the Yokohama-Marseille Ligne N Nr. 6. This Type 1.926/6 cancel was introduced in 1898 according to “La Poste Maritime Francaise Historique et Catalogue” from Raymond Salles. Circular Limbach, Saxony arrival cancel from February of 1912. Blue Consulate seal. Ex Schwirtz.

Post card of the Saigon Harbour building

Military letter sent by a soldier located in Dao Bang, close to the Chinese border, to France. Blue military cachet on front. Hanoi transit cancel on the reverse.

Rare military post card sent in October of 1907 by a German in Hanoi and employed with the French Foreign Legion sent to his parents using the military postal system. Ex Schwirtz.

Military letter sent by a soldier from Hanoi to France in February of 1907. Hai Phong transit cancels on the reverse.

Domestic military mail sent from Tay-Ken (rare cancel) to Hanoi in May of 1907. Tay-Ken departure and Hanoi arrival cancels on the reverse. Blue military cachet on front.

Military letter sent by a soldier located in Tonkin to France in September of 1910. Cancelled with the Hanoi-Chateu circular cancel. Blue military cachet on front.

Rare military post card written during World War I by a French soldier located in Mon Cay (rare cancel) and sent to a fellow solider who was located in a German hospital in Darmstadt as a prisoner of war. Ex Schwirtz. Schwirtz annotated this card with “During World War I French colonial troops also fought in France. If they were captured, there was a postal connection established via the Red Cross. Mail was handed over in Pontarlier, a French border city.”

Military letter sent by a soldier located in Tuen Quang, north-west of Hanoi, in May of 1917 to France. Hanoi transit cancel on the reverse. Black military Tuyen-Quang cachet on front.

Letter sent to the Inspector of Indigenous Troops in Lang Son using the “Franchise Militaire” postage free provision. The letter took quite a while to be delivered. It originated on May 8th, 1923 as indicated by the “mute” Tresort 1 Postes 619 cancel. It was then routed through Hai Phong (June 13th, 1923), Langson (June 15th, 1923) and finally Hung Yen (June 16th, 1923).

The military posts of the French in the Indochina-China border region were often a rather primitive affair more reminiscent of the wooden forts one would expect to see in the historic American West. Here is a postcard that depicts the military post in Yen-The near Langson.

Letter sent by a doctor from a military hospital in Vinh-Long on April 30th, 1929 to a recipient in the same city. Cancelled with the rare “Poste Rurale Binh Long” rural cancel. Vinh Long arrival cancel on the reverse. Black boxed bi-lingual military cachet in front. Ex Schwirtz.

Letter sent by the Residence Superieure du Cambodge (Government Building) in Pnom Penh, Cambodia to the Chef du Service Colonial in Marseille, France in August of 1932. Violet Government cachet on front.

Registration Nr. 090004

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