South Vietnam, Postage Free SVN Military Mail from 1942 until July 1st, 1960; The South Vietnamese Military Postal System was basically an extension of the French Military Postal System. Native South Vietnamese military units fought alongside the French until they finally departed the country being gradually replaced by U.S. American soldiers and their allies. Prior to the issuance of military free franks on July 1st, 1960 letters sent by military personell to loved ones were free of charge and the same was true for family mail to a Khu Buu Chin (KBC) unit number. After that date active military members received two military free franks per month (Michel Nr. M1 and M2) that they could use free of charge. Of course troops could mail additional letters but then they had to pay a discounted rate using standard postage stamps. The tariff from a military member to a civilian and vice versa was 50% of the civilian rate.  Additional services, such as air mail, international mail, express and registration services had to be paid at 100% of the civilian rate. On January 1st, 1975 the standard letter rate changed to 25D and this what civilians had to pay to send letters to members of the military but military members continued to receive a break as they only paid 10 Dong for letters they mailed out.

Each military unit in South Vietnam had its own unique KBC number that was assigned to obfuscate the location of the sender/recipient for security reasons. All the soldier had to do, was to write “Franchise Militaire” (FM) on front of the envelope and have the unit cachet applied if part of French units  or “Quan Thu” or the abbreviation “QT” in the upper left or right corner of the envelope if part of a Vietnamese unit.

Very early letter sent by a Vietnamese soldier in the employ of the French Army in October of 1942 using the F.M. (Franchise Militaire) French military postal system to send a message from Van-Dinh to Saigon. Van-Dinh is a suburb of Hanoi. Hanoi transit and Saigon arrival cancels on the reverse.

Domestic letter by a French soldier using the Franchise Militaire (F.M.) French military mail system to send a personal message (full contents preserved) from Yen-Bai to Saigon in January of 1943. Black regimental military cachet at top right. Indochina was under Japanese occupation at that time and letters of the French military are very hard to find during this period.

Another early example of a Vietnamese soldier, fighting for the French, sending a domestic letter from Hung Yen to a French unit (S.P.4027). Hung Yen is located just South of Hanoi. F.M. (Franchise Militaire) indicated postage free transport within the French military system. Cancelled with a rare rural Hung Yen cancel. Approximately dated around 1945-50.

Air mail letters sent in April of 1953 by a Vietnamese soldier associated with Secteur Postale 4459 sent under the free Franchise Militaire (F.M.) military postal system to Saigon. Oval French Battalion cachet on front. The letter may have contained a photo as the sender remarked “do not bend” at the bottom left. Saigon machine arrival cancel on the reverse.

Air mail letter sent in June 1953 by a Vietnamese solider attached to a French Battalion from Hanoi to Cholon in the South using the postage free mail privileges using the Franchise Militaire (F.M.) military postal system. Cancelled with the mute “Poste aux Armees” military cancel. Rectangular “Duverte par la censure-KIEM DUYET” military censor mark on front.

Here is an example of a letter written by a Vietnamese soldier operating with the French unit S.P.4798 that was sent to a civilian in My Tho in July of 1953. Red circular S.P. cachet on front. My Tho arrival cancel on the reverse.

From the same correspondence is another letter sent from S.P.4798 to the same civilian in December of 1953.

Air mail letter sent in March of 1954 by a Vietnamese soldier attached to a Vietnamese Regiment fighting with the French Army. The letter was sent by air mail from KBC 4366 ( a KBC number yet unlisted in the official SICP KBC listing) to a civilian in Hanoi. Hanoi machine arrival cancel on the reverse.

Air mail letter sent in April of 1954 by a Vietnamese soldier attached to a Vietnamese Regiment fighting with the French Army. The letter was sent by air mail from KBC 4619 to a civilian in Hanoi. Hanoi machine arrival cancel on the reverse.

Military letter sent from a Vietnamese Battalion (S.P. 4.874) to another Vietnamese attached to S.P. 73.902 in August of 1954. Red cicular S.P. military cachet on front.

Official letter (full contents preserved) sent by the Head of the French Property Office within the French military postal system (Note the F.M. in the upper right corner) to a recipient in Saigon. Cancelled with the mute “Poste aux Armees” cancel from September of 1954. Circular red Government seal plus boxed address cachet. Civilian Saigon arrival cancel on the reverse.

Letter sent by a Vietnamese Transport military unit sent to France in September of 1954 using the Franchise Militaire (F.M:) military postal system. Cancelled with the mute “Poste aux Armees” cancel. Black circular military cachet on front.

 Domestic letter sent by a Vietnamese soldier attached to a Vietnamese Battalion under French command sent to a civilian in Saigon. The letter (full contents preserved) was censored by censor Nr. 38 in the S.A.X military censure unit. Saigon machine arrival cancel on the reverse.

Two letters from December of 1954 and January of 1955 sent by a Colonel in Saigon using the French military mail system (F.M./Franchise Militaire) and addressed to a Vietnamese soldier located in S.P./Secteur Postale 4.239. The Secteur-Postale represents a field post code that was intended to protect troop locations, similar to the KBC and Hom The numbers in South and North Vietnam.

Domestic letter (full content preserved) sent by a Vietnamese soldier working for the French Army (S.P./KBC 4024/4721/Air Force Training Center in Nha Trang) to a Vietnamese civilian in Saigon. F.M. (Franchise Militaire) indicated for postage free transportation within the French military postal system. Cancelled in January of 1955 by the mute “Poste aux Armees” cancel.

Domestic air mail letter sent by a member of the military (KBC 4531 a Navy Marine Unit) to a civilian in Saigon. Red circular naval KBC cachet on front. Cancelled by the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel in April of 1955. Saigon machine arrival cancel on the reverse.

Domestic letter sent by a Vietnamese soldier working for the French Army (S.P./KBC 4027/National Military Academy in Dalat) to a civilian in Gia Dinh. F.M. (Franchise Militaire) indicated at top right for postage free transport. Cancelled by the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel in July of 1955.

Domestic letter sent by a Vietnamese soldier working for the French Army (S.P./KBC 4027/National Military Academy in Dalat) to a civilian in Paris, France. F.M. (Franchise Militaire) indicated at top left for postage free transport. Dalat and Saigon transit cancels from July of 1955 on the reverse. President Diem changed the original name of the military from “Quan Dei Quoc Gia Viet-Nam (Armed Forces of the State of Vietnam-Nam) to Quan Luc Viet-Nam (Viet-Nam Armed Forces).

International letter sent by a Vietnamese member of the military (KBC 4719) to a school in France. F.M. (Franchise Militaire) indicated for postage free transportation. Cancelled by the mute “QUan Buu” military cancel from October of 1955.

Here is an example of a letter written by a Vietnamese soldier in a Vietnamese unit. It was sent from KBC 4821, which so far is an unlisted unit in the official SICP KBC list. Note the red rectangular cachet on the top left “QUAN THU” and the red circular KBC cachet. Circular mute “Quan Buu” military cancel from December of 1955. Saigon machine transit cancel on the reverse.

International letter sent in June of 1956 by a Vietnamese soldier located in KBC 4041 (Children’s Army School. Program ran 1955-1960 located in Vung Tau) to a school in France. F.M. (Franchise Militaire) indicated for postage free transport. Red propaganda cachet on front. Red circular KBC cachet on front.

Intra KBC mail was also free of charge as it was considered essential business and that persisted even after the military free franks had been issued for individual soldiers. Here is a intra KBC letter sent from KBC 4600 (The Gereneral Military Hospital in Go Vap, Saigon) to KBC 4098 (a yet unlisted unit on the official SICP KBC list) in what appears to be September of 1957. Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel. Note the manuscript “Quan Thu” in the upper right corner.

Intra military unit correspondence (full contents preserved) sent in November of 1957 from KBC 6068 (a KBC unit yet unknown on the official SICP KBC listing) to KBC 6036 (equally unknown). Cancelled with the “mute” Quan Buu military cancel.

Military correspondence in the form of a short typed letter sent from KBC 3352/Naval Anti-Aicraft Unit located in Saigon) in 1958. Công Văn (Documents) hand cachet and red Government seal on front. Triangular KBC seal on front.

Letter (full contents preserved) sent by a member of the military in KBC 3019 in May of 1958 to a civilian in Saigon. Note the manuscript “Quan Thu” in the top right corner. Illegible circular red unit cachet on front. Cancelled by mute “Quan Buu” military cancel. Machine Saigon arrival cancel on the reverse.

Letter sent by a civilian in Dong La to a member of the military located in KBC 4217 in March of 1960. Note the manuscript abbreviation “QT” on the top right. Illegible transit/arrival cancels on the reverse.

The postage free transportation of military to civilians came to a halt on July 1st,1960 when the first Military Free Frank was issued to members of the forces. From that time on they were limited to send only a number of free letters as they had received an equivalent of free franks. However, while military to civilian mail had to be affixed by stamps that was not true for military correspondence between two units if the subject was “business” related. This explains that postage free envelopes were still possible after July 1st, 1960.

Example of a unit to unit message sent in February of 1961 fro KBC 3011 (VNAF General Headquarters an Air Force unit in Tan Son Nhut) to KBC 4961. Cancelled by the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel.

Rare official correspondence (full contents preserved) sent by the Defense Ministry to KBC 4241 sent in August of 1961. Circular red Government cachet and red Defense Ministry hand stamp. Cancelled by the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel.

Content of the above letter

Postage free military mail sent from KBC 4151/nothing is known about this unit) to a suburb of Saigon in December of 1962. Boxed hand stamp “Quân Thủ” means “Military Master”. Two different sized triangular KBC seals on front. The letter was apparently forwarded to the “Mission Enagelique in Vientiane in Laos” which is indicated by an Vientiane arrival cancel on the reverse dated February, 6th, 1963. Unusual item as it demonstrates that free Vietnamese military mail also functioned across country borders.

Very rare correspondence between Trần Quang, Representative of the Partneship, Chairman of the Provincial Council of Quảng Ngãi Privince to the President of the Republic in the Palace in Saigon sent in July of 1963 from Quang Ngai to Saigon. Note the rectangular “DUONG-NHIEN BAO-DAM” which was the military term used or secured/warranted mail. Saigon arrival cancel on the reverse.

Military form letter sent in 1963 within KBC 3317 a Navy unit located in Saigon . Red triangular KBC cachet on front. Red Government seal inside. The document represents the official release papers for a hospital patient from the hospital.

Military form letter sent in 1964 from KBC 3320 a Navy unit located in Saigon to KBC 3328 the Naval Fleet Headquarters in Saigon. Red triangular KBC cachet on front (note that the KBC number was manually altered from 3317 to 3320). Red Government seal inside. The document represents the official release papers for a hospital patient from the hospital.

Intra military unit correspondence (full contents preserved) sent in March of 1966 from KBC 3452/Ranger Command Zone 3 in Bien Hoa to KBC 4091/Quang Trung Training Center located in Quan Tre. Red circular KBC seal on front. Cancelled with the “mute” Quan Buu military cancel.

Military form letter sent in 1966 from KBC 4800 (a yet unknown KBC number on the official SICP KBC listing) to KBC 4003 (nothing known about this unit yet). Red triangular KBC cachet on front. Cancelled with the “mute” Quan Buu military cancel. from November, 1966  Black Government seal inside. The document represents the official release papers for a hospital patient from the hospital.

Unit to unit correspondence of a folded hectographe letter sent from KBC 3663 to KBC 4002 (General Staff and Command lofted in Saigon) sent in July of 1967. Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel from July 10th. Another “Quan Buu” arrival stamp (dated July 12th) was applied on the reverse. The “QUAN VU”  red rectangular cachet on top right is probably the equivalent of the Quan Thu free frank marking. Triangular and circular KBC cachet on front.

Unit to unit correspondence mailed in January of 1968 from KBC 3313 (Coastal Navy Division 11 in Cua Viet). Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel. Triangular and circular KBC cachets on front.

Unit to unit correspondence from the same correspondence. Two small letters sent from KBC 4955 to Quan Tri in January of 1968.

Unit to unit correspondence sent by what looks like KBC 3120 to Trieu-Phong in 1968.

Three intra unit letters sent from the same KBC Nr. 4447 sent to Quang Tri in January of 1968. All letters are cancelled with the mute “Quantity Buu” military cancel. Circular red KBC cachets on front.

Unit to unit correspondence mailed in January of 1968 from KBC 4379 (located in Saigon) to Quang Tri. Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel. Red circular KBC cachet on front.

Unit to unit correspondence sent in April of 1968 from KBC 4121 (a yet unlisted KBC number of the official SICP KBC listing). Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel. Red circular KBC cachet and KBC hand stamp on front.

Rare unit to unit correspondence sent in December of 1968 from KBC 4002 (General Staff and Command in Saigon) to another unit in Saigon. The letter is stamped “BAO-DAM” which translates into “SECURED-WARRANTED” and is similar to the civilian registration process which offered a higher level of security. There is also a black rectangular “B.D. with a red registration number 74748. Triangual KBC cachet on front. Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu”military cancel. Saigon arrival cancel on the reverse.

Leaping Soldier military aerogramme Type II (first issued on April 1st, 1968) that could be mailed postage free from one KBC unit to another. In this case sent by KBC 4975 (Paramilitary Police Force Headquarters) to a military engineer in KBC 6010 on February of 1969. Red boxed propaganda cachet on front. The reverse shows the printed inscription “Hate the Viet Cong because they cause war and destroy the South”. Cancelled with the mute “QUan Buu” military cancel.

Unit to unit correspondence (full contents preserved) sent from KBC 4004 (a yet unlisted KBC unit in the official SICP KBC listing) to a unit in Saigon. Circular red KBC cachet on front. Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel.

Unit to unit correspondence sent from KBC 3319 (Cam Ranh Naval Training Center) to KBC 6646 (a unit yet unlisted on the official SICP KBC listing) in July of 1971. Red circular KBC cachet on front. Note the blue naval decal on the top left and there ship decal at bottom right. Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel.

Unit to unit correspondence mailed postage free inSeptember of 1971. In this case mailed from KBC 7096/Military District Police in Than Tri to KBC 6755. Cancelled with a rare hexagonal civilian rural Than Tri cancel. This means the item was initially posted in a civilian post office which was illegal as this could identify the location of a military unit . Later on the letter entered the military mail system as indicated by the “mute” Quan Buu military transit cancel on the reverse.

Intra-unit military correspondence (full contents preserved) sent by a member from KBC 6107 in Gia Dinh to KBC 6168 in March of 1972. Nothing is known yet on KBC 6168. Red circular KBC seal on front. Cancelled by the machine “mute” Quan Buu military cancel.

Unit to unit correspondence sent in May of 1972 from KBC 3533/Tram Hang Khong Quan-Su Qui Nhon an Air Force unit in Quin Non to KBC 3004/ 3rd Air Division in Bien Hoa. Violet circular KBC  seal on front. Cancelled with the “mute” Quan Buu military cancel.

(Cam Ranh Naval Training Center) to KBC 3317 (Naval Headquarters in Saigon) set in June of 1972. Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel. Red circular KBC cachet on front. The document represents the official release papers for a hospital patient from the hospital.

Unit to unit correspondence sent from KBC 3319 (Cam Ranh Naval Training Center) to KBC 3317 (Naval Headquarters in Saigon) set in June of 1972. Cancelled with the mute “Quan Buu” military cancel. Red circular KBC cachet on front.

Postage free military mail (full contents preserved) sent by a member of KBC 3892 located in Chu Lai to what appears to be a civilian in Quan 11. Cancelled with the “mute” Quan Buu military cancel. It is unclear why this letter was transported postage free as it was not directed to another military unit.

Rare registered military correspondence containing a printed matter sent from KBC 3567 (nothing is yet known about this unit) to Saigon in September of 1973. Unusual hand stamped R-label on front. Cancelled with the “mute” Quan Buu military cancel. Two different Saigon arrival cancels on the reverse.

Intra-unit military correspondence (full contents preserved) sent by a member of KBC 6481 (a yet unknown KBC number in the official SICP KBC listing) to KBC 4007. Red circular KBC seal on front. Canceled with the “mute” Quan Buu military cancel.

Military correspondence originating from KBC 4388 ( a yet unknown unit number on the SICP KBC listing) sent to Saigon. Triangular KBC seal on front. Since there is no postal cancel on front an back it is likely that this letter was transported by a military courier.

Letter sent from KBC unit 3105 (a yet unknown unit on the official SICP KBC listing) to Saigon. Triangular KBC seal on front. Probably transported by military courier as no postal markings are visible.

Letter sent from KBC unit 4634 (a yet unknown unit on the official SICP KBC listing) to Phong Dinh. Triangular KBC seal on front. “Khan” (=Urgent) cachet on front. Probably transported by military courier as no postal markings are visible.

Military correspondence sent from KBC 4558/Military Training Academy in Da Lat to another Government office. The letter was most likely transported by military courier as there are no postal markings visible.

Letter sent by a member of the military in KBC 4073 (nothing is known about this unit) to a civilian in Saigon. Black circular KBC seal on front. Cancelled with the “mute” Quan Buu military cancel. It is not clear why the letter was transported free of charge.

Very few unused intra-military envelopes have been found. Here is one that was prepared but never used. It is from KBC 33397 the 4th Marine Battalion “Killer Sharks” located in Vung Tao.

Registration Nr. 200002

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